information technology & healthcare facilities
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Robaidek brings forth a thorough understanding of methodologies that integrate telecommunications systems into project objectives, and managing the coordination of equipment requirements. With a career spanning 26 years, he has extensive experience designing and implementing WAN/LAN, broadband, CATV/CCTV, wireless, and audio/visual technology solutions for healthcare clients. He holds a BS in Education/Mathematics/Computer Science from University of Wisconsin and has earned the distinction of Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and Network Transport Systems Specialist (NTS).
The application Information technology in the healthcare industry has improved patient care and outcomes, reduce operating and maintenance costs, and created new opportunities to generate revenue.
Among the information technology trends in state-of-the-art healthcare facilities is the convergence of telephone, data networks, nurse call, paging, television, security, energy management systems and other communication systems onto a common telecommunications infrastructure using a standard set of communication protocols. The industry standard for this convergence is an Ethernet network running TCP/IP protocol over unshielded twisted-pair copper and optical fiber cabling.
The common telecommunications infrastructure for converged technologies typically includes Category 6A cabling from Telecommunication Rooms to devices to support future 10 Gigabit per second (Gbps) applications and single-mode and 50/125 micron laser optimized optical fiber cabling between Telecommunication Rooms to support current 10 Gbps applications and future 40 and 100 Gbps applications
Converged technologies are already evident in telephony systems where Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become prevalent. VoIP is digital voice signals running over the same network as the data systems. Once the voice traffic is digitized and is transported on the local area network, voice applications can be integrated with databases, directories and other network resources. Nurse call and paging systems can be integrated with VoIP systems so that staff carrying wireless IP-enable phones can be located and contacted.
Implementing VoIP requires careful planning to ensure the quality of the voice signal stays intact and to ensure that other applications running on the network are not adversely impacted by the VoIP application. The network must have capacity to accommodate the additional voice traffic. The network equipment must be configured correctly so the different types of network traffic are segmented and prioritized. The network must also be fault tolerant to provide a reliable phone service.
ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS
The transition to electronic medical records has been aided in recent years by incentives from the federal government including grants and subsidies. The evolving capability of storing video, sounds, medical images and patient data in a common electrical format has enabled, recording, monitoring and retrieval systems to be integrated for improved patient care and workflow. The integration of patient data also enables physicians and staff to improve response times, provide quicker and more accurate diagnosis, and to work collaboratively with other healthcare professional in prescribing treatment. Electronic health records require more storage capacity on the network; the network must be capable of transferring the larger files without noticeable network delays or latency.
Wireless technology makes it possible for medical equipment and communication devices to be mobile and portable so that accessing and recording medical can be done from anywhere within the healthcare facility. There are also wireless applications for tracking and monitoring patients and staff as they move about healthcare data centers, facilities and campuses.
The design of wireless networks must consider the construction of the facility and the structural barriers to wireless transmissions as well as potential sources of interference.
|TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE CONSIDERATIONS|| CONVERGED SYSTEM
| WIRELESS SYSTEM
Networks bandwidth capacity to handle influx of high demand applications
Storage facilities sized to accommodate large electronic medical records and diagnostic images
The Wide Area Network (WAN) link sized and configured to provide enough bandwidth to support the higher transfer rates required for teleconferencing, remote access and transporting large files.
The Telecommunication Rooms designed to facilitate:
Space for additional servers, Storage Area Networks and cabling infrastructure
Proper cooling and environmental control
Additional power and emergency power
Pathways and cable management system sized to manage additional cabling and larger cables.
Redundancy built into the infrastructure to ensure the entire system remains operation in the event of a failure.
Compliant with codes and regulations (UL 1069 for nurse call systems, and NFPA 72 for fire alarm systems)
|Reduced labor costs by standardizing on a cable that is easier to install
Fewer parts and inventory are required to support and maintain the infrastructure
Reduced training requirements for maintenance staff by reducing the knowledge base required to support the infrastructure to a common set of infrastructure and protocols
Greater system reliability, fault tolerance reduced downtime
Greater flexibility since the common infrastructure across systems
Migration path for future equipment and technology
Enables systems to be integrated and interoperate
Functionality can be combined onto a single device. The TV monitor can be used to access local cable programming
|Greater flexibility and convenience by mobilizing medical equipment at the point-of-use
An overlay or extension to other systems such as nurse call
Standard wireless networks are now replacing traditional telemetry systems, making it cost effective to extend to the entire facility the capability to identify the location of patients and their current status.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses a small microchip-based device called a ‘tag’ to transmit information over the air using the radio frequency bandwidth. RFID applications can be used for tracking physical assets, medication management, flow of patients and staff, and infant security