Telcos Reshaping Healthcare With Digital Transformation

Trent S. Anderson, Chief Revenue Officer, Bluebird Network

Across all industries, the virtual shift  has accelerated the adoption of digital tools to enhance productivity, adapt to changing consumer expectations, and deliver better services. Healthcare is no exception, and has grown increasingly reliant on digital tools, such as telehealth, to provide care to patients, whether that care occurs in a physical office or in a virtual setting.

Enabling ease of digital care solutions for the healthcare industry is the wide-spread adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). From its roots in the 1960’s, EHRs have come a long way, now allowing providers to record and share patient data to support treatments and diagnosis across a variety of practices and disciplines. At home, patients can have face-to-face interactions with a healthcare provider through their phone, tablet, or computer. Adding to EHR capabilities are  wearable or other health devices that automatically record and transmit data to their electronic files, informing doctors in real-time to assist in treatment decisions.

What do all of these interactions have in common? They would not be possible without internet connectivity, especially high-speed broadband. As healthcare only continues to grow, more network operators will continue to be at the forefront of this digital transformation movement, ultimately reshaping the future of healthcare.

Why Do Healthcare Organizations Need Robust Infrastructure?

Hospital operations must be efficient and accurate to deliver the best care to patients. EHRs help physicians maintain correct records of a patient’s condition and enable them to share the records securely with other providers for consultations and collaboration. Having a reliable and fast internet connection facilitates these interactions, which may require physicians to transmit large files and quantities of data like MRI, radiology, or x-ray results. Information that has become essential to diagnosing and treating many conditions. This communication can happen in real-time with distant healthcare providers, reducing overall healthcare costs. Collaboration is also more accessible by allowing healthcare providers to transition to cloud-based applications to improve efficiency. Network operators can build the infrastructure that these systems require to support digital transformation and enable technology to transform the future of healthcare.

This technology not only benefits the provider but the patient as well. When patients can also access their health information, they are empowered to make better, more informed health decisions for superior health outcomes. Technology also helps meet patient expectations, shifting to a more personalized and timely digital experience.

Technology is Shaping the Future of Healthcare

We have seen that a technology-driven approach to healthcare works, especially as the deployment of broadband networks extends to traditionally underserved communities. In a growing distributed environment, telehealth will still be the needed link between patients and healthcare providers, especially as 136 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. Even some providers have become accustomed to the benefits of a tech-driven health industry and are unlikely to return to old, less efficient processes.

Healthcare systems will have to be continuously  supported by network operators , as their services will be required for the success of these institutions. For example, extremely low latency will be a mandatory element of digital infrastructure for healthcare providers to cross-communicate effectively and transmit imaging and other data as needed. In these cases, having the lowest latency and packet loss is essential for healthcare providers’ day-to-day operations. This need is especially prevalent in more remote areas which need the most access to outside resources and medical providers or individualized care providers.

Without reliable internet, healthcare providers will be unable to maintain the tech-driven systems to enable day-to-day efficiencies. For so long, healthcare providers have been overburdened and burnt-out because of the sheer amount of administrative tasks they are required to complete, in addition to seeing patients. Network operators will address this by enabling high-speed internet that powers automation and AI to reduce the administrative burden. 92% of healthcare providers agree that there are too many administrative tasks, while 64% of executives believe there isn’t enough staff to cover vacancies, making efficiency even more valuable.

Healthcare Needs Data Centers

With the healthcare industry growing rapidly and organizations dealing with significant amounts of data, there will be an increased need for an advanced data center to store and secure data. A key consideration will be for these organizations to choose a data center with locations that are generally free from major weather events or natural disasters to ensure that medical records are always available, safe, and accessible. Even diversity in the locations themselves can help to improve data protection. Lastly, the data center power should run consistently to ensure reliable connectivity around the clock. 

As every aspect of our lives grows more digital, it is only natural that the healthcare industry would follow suit to deliver better services and care to patients. However, having the technology does no good without the digital infrastructure to support the increased demand for high-speed connectivity. This is where network operators come in and will continue to lead and power this digital healthcare transformation.

 

Bluebird Network, EHR, electronic health record

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