Eliminating Downtime and Ensuring Reliable Connectivity in Healthcare

By Greg Davis, CEO, Bigleaf
Twitter: @BigleafNetworks

Telehealth is on the rise, and it’s not linear – it’s exponential. Internet downtime can severely damage your reputation, operations, and your ability to stay competitive with other practices and clinics, even if your services may be of a better grade.

To stay connected in an increasingly global and digital world, you must ensure that your downtime is minimized or eliminated. Let’s take a look at some strategies to make this happen.

Redundant Network Infrastructure

All healthcare organizations and clinics need backup in case something goes down. This is important for customer service and operations, but overall for the security of your patients. Of course, you may have an offline backup of client files; however, the files stored on your drive or cloud could be at risk.

Multiple internet connections, power supplies, switches, and intelligent routing for data transmission are just some of the things that can help you stay online during a cyber attack or outage.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning

Internet downtime doesn’t just affect your business, but it also affects your clients. Of course, your team may be under excessive stress dealing with ad-hoc and ongoing issues, but your clients may be confused, angry, and frustrated. In this case, a plan must be in place for your staff to remain calm under pressure and to communicate this peace of mind to clients that call in or try to contact you.

Ensure that your plan includes data recovery processes, backup communication channels, and communicating updates as they come. This demonstrates to your clients that you can handle stressful situations with precision and will give them the confidence to champion your brand and become loyal patients.

Proactive Network Monitoring and Maintenance

The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true, especially in healthcare. The best time to check whether you’re prepared for a disaster is when you have the resources to plan. With a well-laid-out plan, monitoring your network and overall business can help you track performance and security threats.

A fantastic way to do this is automated and even real-time notifications to you or whoever is responsible for your IT infrastructure. Regular updates include security patches, equipment inspections, and even firmware updates.

Additionally, load-balancing tools should be incorporated into your IT infrastructure. Using a load balancer, your application traffic is continuously matched with the available Internet connection. By evenly distributing traffic across multiple servers, load balancers prevent any single server from being overwhelmed, which helps maintain consistent performance and prevents system failures due to excessive load.

Maintenance should not only be done to your online systems. Regular team training seminars and drills are instrumental to dealing with the blowback that an emergency can cause. Ask yourself difficult questions, such as “If the systems go down and we’re understaffed, how can we recover?”

Bringing everyone on the same page and conducting regular spot checks of your operational procedures and systems will save you heartache and revenue during challenging situations.

Your Business, Their Way

Digital solutions and telehealth came quickly and are here to stay. As they become more instrumental to your practice, the increased reliance does pose some potential threats. This does not mean you should not implement them completely, but take a risk-based approach.

Continuous maintenance of your equipment and solutions, backing up and creating redundant systems, and ensuring that a plan is in place and well-communicated are critical ways to guarantee that your clinic can weather any storm it gets thrown into.

Embrace a comprehensive approach with a positive attitude to eliminate downtime and demonstrate your commitment to high-quality healthcare as more and more patients rely on technology.