In 2016, the NSW government allocated $400 million to support technology advancements in hospitals and health facilities, to ensure safer, higher quality and more efficient patient care. With technology being harnessed like never before, IT departments are experiencing unprecedented levels of demand and increasing challenges to ensure no disruptions are experienced. With increasing numbers of devices being added to hospitals every day, network monitoring is becoming incrementally important to ensure there are no interruptions to patient care. The fact is, when a patient is in a critical condition, every second counts; doctors, nurses and technology all have to work together with seamless precision.
 
As a result, the healthcare industry has recognised the need for improvement, and is undergoing a digital transformation to streamline treatment and patient care processes. Now, we’re witnessing a ‘digital first’ mentality taking over, as administrators switch from traditional paper methods to digital channels.
 
Keeping the environment alive
 
If hospitals and their patients are to survive, the complex healthcare environments they operate need to be managed effectively to ensure the best outcome for patients. But this is, perhaps, easier said than done. These environments don’t only include traditional IT equipment anymore, such as servers, computers and printers. Today, hospitals have a complex environmental infrastructure that includes medical equipment, appliances, research labs, and backup power supplies; and all of these entities need to be considered when monitoring the network environment.
 
To ensure all aspects of the network remain online, comprehensive monitoring is essential. For example, taking an image using an x-ray or MRI machine and sending it to the correct clinician – it may seem simple enough, but in reality, there is a huge amount of process involved that relies on a robust network. If this process isn’t working correctly it could mean that images aren’t displayed or sent correctly and this could cause delays for both the patient and the doctors.
 
Consider the impact of a delay if the machinery isn’t functioning or communicating correctly. Alternatively, consider the role of environmental monitoring going on within hospitals – the fridges (containing medical supplies like blood and drugs) and the operating theatres that are required to stay at recommended safety temperature levels
 
In both instances, the role of network monitoring is to use software to understand the happenings of equipment, rooms and even staff to ensure they are functioning as they should. Such software is able to automatically generate disruption alerts for IT staff so that they can quickly identify issues as they unfold, even proactively in some cases. Monitoring ensures any unusual activity, malfunctions, failures or security breaches are immediately taken care of, allowing hospital staff to focus on saving lives.
 
In case of emergency – monitoring 24/7
 
The healthcare industry is always-on and is constantly looking to the latest technology for efficiency gains. With new technologies entering the fold, network monitoring has fast become the foundation of hospitals to ensure the optimum patient care and return on investment from technology investments.
 
Despite the growing environment, hospital IT teams are notoriously under pressure and under resourced. As such, effective monitoring has become even more vital to an IT department to provide a detailed overview of all infrastructure, alerting staff when anything out of the ordinary occurs and reducing troubleshooting or potential downtime. This continuous monitoring of the hospital infrastructure can not only save time, money and resources, but save lives, as issues can be resolved before they become catastrophic failures.
 
Network monitoring saves lives – literally
 
Network monitoring can easily be overlooked when thinking about hospitals and patient care, however, by ensuring healthcare IT teams can act quickly, resolve issues, and be proactive – network monitoring holds the key to increasing patient safety. Seamless integrations across equipment and systems within a hospital could mean the difference between life and death, where significant downtime has the potential to impact patient care.
 
George Wilson is APAC Director of Operations at Paessler AG