SD-WAN: The Right Treatment for Managing Growth in the Healthcare Sector

Healthy growth is something every company strives for. As with human development, the rate of growth can impact a business’s well-being: Grow too slowly, and the business can become stagnant or obsolete. Grow too quickly, and the business will experience growing pains that could threaten its overall health.

In every sector, managing growth effectively can ensure longevity for the business. In the healthcare space, however, it can mean the difference between life and death—for the business and its customers. As a medical practice or healthcare facility expands, either organically or through acquisition, is its existing network capable of handling the increase in data, voice and video traffic? Will the IT department (if it has one) be able to manage new users and new locations without delay? Will expansion include new locations—and, if so, will they be able to get up and running quickly?

Government mandates to move to electronic health record (EHR) systems, as well as adoption of newer health information technologies, mobile health and other data-driven and cloud-based solutions, current networks are being taxed to the point of impeding healthcare providers’ ability to send and receive information in real time. And in situations when seconds count, healthcare facilities cannot afford to wait for their networks to catch up.

SD-WAN could be the cure for what ails healthcare providers as they grow, expand and adopt new technologies. SD-WAN offers myriad benefits for healthcare providers, including central management and “always on” and intelligent connectivity at every location, not to mention security and compliance with HIPAA and other government regulations.

SD-WAN centralizes the management of each location’s network from one central place, which is beneficial for healthcare providers with more locations than IT staff. Not only can this reduce the number of people necessary to manage multiple networks, it also ensures all locations are up to date with the most recent application SLA policies, security updates and compliance requirements. It also means new networks can be provisioned in days, not weeks or months as with MPLS circuits.

Because SD-WAN separates the intelligence from the data plane, traffic running over the network can be prioritized and routed logically to ensure critical data reaches its destination with little to no delay. And, should issues occur, traffic is automatically rerouted along the fastest or most optimal path (or paths) to ensure continual uptime.

Using SD-WAN, companies can reduce their connectivity costs by integrating less-expensive internet and broadband with their existing MPLS services. SD-WAN then maps the different applications across the connections based on business policy and each application’s SLA. Lastly, another benefit is providing optimized connectivity for SaaS based healthcare applications and services. SLA based policies and intelligent connectivity ensure new cloud-delivered applications are always on and available/reachable.

One Versa customer, a national dental practice with more than 50 locations, is using SD-WAN to streamline its operations, save money and increase customer satisfaction. Management of all of its locations and connection types is now centralized through a single pane of glass, saving the practice 40 percent in maintenance and support costs. What’s more, capacity on each location’s network has doubled through load-sharing and aggregation across multiple locations.

Other benefits the practice is reaping through SD-WAN include increased network reliability, completely automated data and compliance management and accelerated time to service with centralized, zero-touch provisioning and mass deployment capabilities.

Healthcare providers of all sizes can benefit from SD-WAN. The hot-button issues impacting health care—compliance, privacy, digitization, costs—all are addressed by SD-WAN technology, helping companies in the healthcare space and beyond ensure their networks are secure, agile, reliable and fast.

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