How Network Outages Impact Rural Health Care Providers

Rob Nicholson

The phones or the Internet being down is always a hassle, but for rural health care providers, it can be far worse than that. Patients become highly dissatisfied when they can’t get basic information or make appointment during network downtime. Doctors and facilities can’t order needed supplies. Even worse, downtime can cause patient services, such as tests and operations, to have to be rescheduled. For mid- to large-sized organizations, such disruptions can cost up to $300,000 per hour. Even for smaller ones, it is very disruptive and costly.

Network outages impact rural healthcare providers more often than those in the city thanks to the fact that rural areas often have poorer connectivity in the first place. Cables and telephone lines are both more likely to be old, and there are fewer providers. This leaves little redundancy in a system that is already more prone to failure.

The solution is to take steps to increase redundancy in the connectivity at your rural health care office. This is necessary even if a provider promises 99.5 percent uptime. That percentage actually amounts to four hours of downtime every month! If those four hours happen during operating hours, it can cause extreme disruptions.

One of the most well-known ways of providing a backup is to have a separate T1 or T3 line installed. This, however, is very expensive – and it isn’t bulletproof. Most connectivity problems happen at the “last mile” of service, which is to say, close to the customer. Something that affects one line at this location is likely to affect them all. Therefore, a better solution is needed.

The Solution

Here at SecureNetMD, we work with healthcare providers and their facilities to provide custom solutions that work with their specific environments and configurations. One example is our work for Beebe Healthcare. This group has several facilities, many of which are in rural areas. We realized that if they could all be part of the same network, then we could set up multiple points of connectivity. This way, if one facility’s connectivity was lost, it could seamlessly piggyback onto the connections of those who were still up.

This was accomplished by setting up a WAN (wide-area network) using top-grade Cisco routers and Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless services. Using wireless services eliminates the dependence on hardwired connections. These services also allow for the transmission of both voice and data, so full connectivity could be maintained even in the event of localized interruptions in wire service.

Further protection against business disruption is gained by hosting data in remote locations. Already, 83 percent of providers use offsite data services. The problem is that only 35 percent have a backup or redundancy service in case of a WAN outage. This leaves most facilities with the possibility that they won’t be able to access their offsite data and services at least some of the time.

  • 83% of providers use offsite data services
  • 9.3% plan to implement remote services in the near future
  • Only 35% have a backup to cover for WAN outage

With our 4G LTE-based solutions, avoiding the possibility of network downtime is easy and cost-effective. We will work with you and your facility to devise the best possible configuration for the service. This will not only ensure that it works, but is also easy to use and trouble-free. Our solution is superior to hardwired options like T1 lines not only because it is less costly, but because it has no wires. You’ll never have to worry about road construction cutting your lines or windstorms blowing them down simply because there aren’t any physical lines involved.

Read through our FREE Business Continuity Whitepaper for a more in-depth overview of our 4G LTE solution for Beebe Healthcare.

For a consultation on how you can eliminate your downtime problems, just contact us. We’re the leading provider of business continuity solution for healthcare providers. Let us show you how we gained this trusted position.

Leave a Comment

Top 5 Reasons Healthcare Providers should Outsource IT Service DeskThe Top Reasons Why Outsourcing IT Service Desk Support Saves Healthcare Providers Money