Four Things Every Health Care Provider Needs to Know About Telecom

When lives are on the line, details matter. It is critical for health care providers to assess the efficiency of an office, clinic or hospital from top to bottom to ensure every gear works toward the end goal of treating patients. This is especially the case for a health care provider’s telecommunications infrastructure.

In today’s digital world, telecom plays a more vital role in health care than ever, and its influence is positioned to grow. With that dependence constantly increasing, here are four things every health care provider must know about telecom:

1.)  Buy enough bandwidth. Online and hosted applications are now a primary resource for assessing patients and storing information. As such, health care providers must provide their offices with sufficient bandwidth to support these applications.

This is especially true for providers sending and receiving images, such as X-rays. Without sufficient and dedicated bandwidth, for example, transferring images will result in significant and costly lag time. The amount of bandwidth your organization needs can vary from organization to organization depending on the volume of business and the type of applications and systems employed.

Providers need to ensure its telecommunications infrastructure is scalable so that it can quickly adapt to future bandwidth needs without major construction or contract re-negotiations.

2.)  Backup, backup, backup. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who backup, and those who wish they did. In health care this is especially true because losing data or network ability can not only cripple vital operations, it can also cause serious HIPAA compliance issues.

Every provider should invest in either broadband or wireless redundant access for when, not if, the primary network goes down. Having a failover provision will ensure you are still able to access your network in the case of an unexpected outage because of network maintenance or any other means of failure.

Health care providers should also back-up their data off-site. Catastrophes happen unexpectedly. A fire or flood can ruin an internal server and lose critical patient information. Backing your data up off-site functions as insurance for the unthinkable. As with any business, the only thing you cannot replace and the only true asset you have is your unique data.

3.)  Give voice your attention, too. Communications with your network of patients, doctors, pharmacists and all other key personnel is essential to daily operations—you can’t ignore a serious investigation of your support voice services needs.

For example, while fax machines are becoming obsolete in many areas of the business world, it is still a critical component to health care communications. Make sure you have dedicated voice lines set aside for faxing purposes. You should also make sure you have enough voice lines for personnel for proper internal and external communications. The number of lines you need will depend on the volume of staff, patients and daily business communication for each individual provider.

Also, work with your telecommunications provider and ensure that your critical redundant features are properly installed and functioning, such as call redirection and E-911. If these are not directed to the proper phone numbers and addresses, you may not know until an emergency has occurred.

4.)  Use telecom advancements. Telecom is a major player in the advancement of the health care industry, and every provider should investigate the ways in which new technologies can help streamline and enhance health care offices.

We already see many providers transitioning to networked tablets and laptops to build electronic medical records (ERM) on the front-end of a patient visit, and there is so much more to be offered in the EMR field alone. Advances in telemedicine also provide unprecedented opportunities for remote care and outreach. Leaving tech advancement idle will only put your office further behind the swiftly evolving curve in health care.

 

Eddie Hooper is the Director of Carrier Services for RCG, a single-source telecommunications provider based in Franklin, Tenn. To learn more about RCG, visit www.myrcg.com

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