by adgrooms on May 11, 2019

Network systems comprise a pivotal piece of hospital infrastructure. Everything from communications to research to patient information is accessed through the vast wired and wireless network. We have made great advances in the speed and efficiency of these networks, but those institutions left behind could be affecting patient safety and losing millions of dollars in lost time.

We often think of slow networks in terms of a program or web page loading sluggishly repeatedly over a period of time. But to understand what a normal speed is, you need a baseline for comparison. Ideally, first you would set benchmarks on the creation of a network and with any major change. You would then monitor to identify fluctuations in performance ongoing from that point.

From this baseline, you can be aware of changes, particularly increases, in network utilization. Network utilization is the amount of traffic at any point in time versus the total capacity of the system. Just like a jammed rush hour interstate, too much traffic on the existing infrastructure will cause bottlenecks. And like streets and avenues, application specific traffic can be observed for sources of congestion and targets for improvement.

Monitoring a network can also uncover anomalies that may indicate malicious software. Network behavior anomaly detection (NBAD) can be used to bolster firewalls, antivirus, and spyware detection, traditionally used in defense of malware and other undesirables that could shut down a hospital.

Demands on a network will change with time as staffing, software, and systems change. To keep networks zipping along at full speed, new technology should be assessed and applied and infrastructure expanded as the demand warrants. This is another area, similar to SSO investment, where the upfront cost is justified by long-term improvement in patient outcomes and time saved by medical staff.