Health care is a field that’s always changing for the better. Looking back even 20 years, it’s easy to see all the ways technology has streamlined and improved nearly every facet of care. From telehealth to touchscreen-based monitors and charting, wirelessly-connected devices to programmable implants that help patients live healthy, active lives for years longer than they once might have, technology drives today’s treatments and the quest for tomorrow’s cures.
Like many other fields, the basic foundation of the technological revolution in medicine is sound, modern telecommunications and networking infrastructure; the wiring, cabling, access points, wireless internet hardware and more that allows our digital world to operate with efficiency, security and speed. Making sure your networks have sufficient capacity, proper installation and are designed with easy upgrades and maintenance in mind is crucial to meet the needs of today and the challenges of tomorrow.
DESIGN COMES FIRST
First, well-designed technological infrastructure is the best way to “future proof” your operations. Again, look back 20 years at the innovation we’ve seen. Now think ahead to what the next 20 years might bring. Interactive, 3D digital models of a patient’s tumor, shared via virtual reality between specialists over thousands of miles. Physicians working with Artificial Intelligence to diagnose rare conditions and find groundbreaking treatment options. Real-time manipulation of robotic instruments by surgeons located halfway around the globe from the patient they are providing life-saving care.
It’s all possible. But it will require massive amounts of data and medical-grade technological infrastructure that’s built to handle it, both in terms of capacity and utmost reliability. By making sure your physical networks and cabling are ready today, you prepare your facility for next-generation medicine and techniques we can’t even dream of yet.
Next, sound technological infrastructure prepares your facility for “Black Swan” events that might change the way health care professionals interact with their patients almost overnight. That might have sounded alarmist only a few years ago. Then we all saw how the Covid-19 pandemic reconfigured nearly every facet of health care in weeks, not months.
As we emerge from the pandemic, many patients are still more comfortable with touchless, kiosk-based check-in experiences and the convenience of telehealth. By making sure your facility’s wiring and cabling is modern, reliable and built for easy upgrades, not only are you preparing your operations to meet that ongoing demand for low-contact care, you are ensuring that your team can quickly pivot to meet unexpected challenges. Whether that’s a global pandemic or extreme weather events like the mile-wide F3 tornado that recently struck Staley Technology’s home city of Little Rock, facilities that invest in modern infrastructure are better prepared to continue providing care when their communities need it most, in whatever form that care has to take to be effective.
Finally, by upgrading your technological infrastructure, you’re preparing your facility for a future that includes ever-bolder and more proficient hacking and cyber intrusion efforts.
According to a cohort study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2022, between January 2016 and December 2021, ransomware attacks on health care organizations exposed the confidential health information of almost 42 million Americans. During that period, ransomware attacks on health care facilities more than doubled. In almost half of cases, the attacks lead to disruptions of electronic systems, with 38% involving cancellations of patient procedures. Increasingly, cyberattackers go after not only large urban hospitals, but even rural hospitals, small clinics and specialists’ offices.
Today’s hacker isn’t skulking in a basement. Modern cybercriminals are often part of well-organized and technologically-sophisticated gangs, sometimes backed and financed by rogue governments whose goal is not only easy money but also spreading fear, chaos and mistrust in our systems.
PREPARATION FOR THE FUTURE
By making sure your health care facility’s technological infrastructure is modern, up to date and well-designed, you can potentially close avenues of cyberintrusion, and give information technology personnel the ability to quickly “wall off” hacked systems before the infection can spread and impact care. Sound, well-designed cabling, wiring and wireless infrastructure also gives you the ability to efficiently upgrade cybersecurity hardware and software on the fly, to meet today’s new breed of cybercrime head on.
Inside the walls of every modern facility, hospital and doctor’s office, there’s an unseen nervous system of fiber optics and conventional cabling that’s crucial to the success of today’s health care operations. By turning your focus to your technological infrastructure, you can not only modernize the level of attention and treatment you can provide to patients, you can simultaneously get your facility ready to meet the challenge of whatever comes next in health care.
Andrew Faulkner is the owner and CEO of Staley Technologies, a national turn-key technology solutions provider based in Little Rock, Ark. The firm offers an array of services nationwide, including electrical work, network configuration, medical-grade cabling, secure wireless networking design and installation, cable remediation, fire-stopping solutions and complete technology deployment. For more information about Staley Technologies and their services for health care providers, visit StaleyTechnologies.com.