The foundation of all electronic communications in healthcare is a robust and dependable data network. It is the fundamental requirement for electronic medical records, imaging, scheduling, billing, medication dispensing, and financial reimbursement. Network management is also complicated – for the largest and smallest healthcare organizations. Operating a network efficiently, securely, and to user expectations in a post-pandemic world where remote services are widely accepted and preferred is tough. This is especially true when combined with the need to ready your network and resources for new technology goals. A quick review of professional certifications developed to train network management staff and keep their skills current reveals there’s a lot of ground for a healthcare network team to cover.
Common Network Management Certifications
Some of the professional certifications and skillsets that network management service providers or healthcare IT teams need for strong network operations:
Making the Decision to Involve a Network Services Partner
Often, these skills and certifications are not all present on an internal network support team. Given the complexities of administrating cybersecurity, change management, remote connectivity, and configuration compliance for a 24/7 healthcare organization, many turn to the expertise of an IT staffing partner. And when they do, choosing the right partner can go far to ensuring success. When a team tries to go it alone, they are often strained to maintain the basics. That leaves no time or energy to sustain and improve the end user experience.
Source: From a 2022 survey sponsored by CereCore and conducted by HFMA
Partnership Standards for Healthcare Organizations
Healthcare and other life science organizations can be particularly hesitant to involve a network services partner given the high complexity of their current environment. That can include networked medical devices and equipment, specialized clinical applications that must be accessible locally and/or across the Internet, and the patient data they collect and protect. That’s why it’s important for their partners to:
1. Understand the unique requirements of network infrastructure in healthcare (ex: telemedicine, clinical decision support, image access, and information protection). In healthcare IT partnerships, trust, shared goals, and similar values are critical, as is the knowledge required to act with compassion and integrity when patient and care team experiences are at stake.
2. Understand patient safety criticality and have well-defined escalation processes. Often there’s a back and forth between application and network incidents. Ensure your partner has processes and procedures that are appropriate for incidents that could impact patient care.
3. Enable cross network access to data and connectivity for the wide range of possible devices and applications so results (ex: lab results, appointment scheduling, ER waiting times, and specialist teams) can be delivered quickly. This improves the provider and patient experience as well as clinical care.
4. Guard against present and future risk. This includes advising on network protocols that can minimize outages, prioritize recovery, scale during surges, and build or protect competitive advantage. Again, the intended result is performance on a 24/7 basis considering after hours scenarios, escalation paths, and critical incidents.
5. Provide “keep the lights on” services while your staff takes the lead on your organization’s strategic projects or vice versa. It is difficult to support and maintain existing networks while building the network for future workloads. That’s why it’s ideal to have a partner who can focus on network operations or network planning, depending on the capabilities and capacity of the in-house team.
According to the 2022 Digital Health Most Wired Survey National Trends Report
6. Help the IT organization prepare for what’s next. This could include assessment, design, planning, and/or training to ensure that the organization is able to budget and plan for the future.
The Bottom Line
The point is there are many facets to the complicated work of a well-managed healthcare network. Healthcare IT organizations must consider their capabilities and resources. Budgets don’t always stretch to allow employment of every expert needed. That’s why choosing the right network management model and bringing in experts with the right knowledge and focus can bring real value and peace of mind.
For more information:
See our article in Becker’s Hospital Review featuring CereCore experts on strategies to improve the operational efficiency of your IT team through strategic sourcing.
See our summary of the 2022 CHIME CIO Survey Results.
See an overview of Network Services offered by CereCore.