But what does that really mean for healthcare facilities? Do you need to abandon your current technology investment and move it to the cloud?
To help you decide whether you’re ready to move to the cloud, here are a few important elements to consider.
1. Distributed vs. centralized facilities
The first consideration should be whether your health facility operates out of a single location, or has multiple satellite offices. If all staff work out of one facility, you may not need a cloud-based solution. But if you have multiple office locations, moving to the cloud simplifies management of communications and applications – which, in turn, improves collaboration between medical staff.
With cloud-based unified communications, the technology is hosted in a single location and services are then delivered to the others. This method eliminates the need to have IT staff in each office location, or have them travel between locations to provide support.
2. Prepare the infrastructure – ditch the public Internet
Once you’ve determined that the cloud is right for your facility, it’s important to look at your network infrastructure. Networks at healthcare facilities with multiple satellite or affiliate offices are often a hodgepodge of carriers and equipment that were built over a period of years.
With cloud computing, an inadequate infrastructure can quickly become overwhelmed by the sudden up-tick in voice, video and data traffic. When that occurs, you will become frustrated and will experience a level of service from your cloud-based applications that doesn’t meet your expectations.
But there’s more to it than bumping up bandwidth. A fully managed, Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network provides a better alternative for both reliability and network performance. When configured correctly, an MPLS network will have multiple connections and redundancies built in; if the primary carrier’s network goes down for any reason, it will automatically switch over to another that is still operating, providing the high-level business continuity and disaster recovery that many healthcare facilities still lack today.
3. Controlled migration or rip-and-replace?
Once the infrastructure is in place, it’s time to start moving applications to the cloud. One of the prevailing myths is that this is an all-or-nothing proposition. In reality, migration to the cloud is a complex proposition, so performing a complete rip-and-replace is a bad business decision fraught with risk.
A better approach is to start with smaller, lower-risk environments such as a satellite office, and implement less complex applications such as a cloud-based communications platform. Typically you won’t be housing the software at the satellite office, so it provides an ideal “lab” with which to work.
With the right partner, your healthcare facility can migrate to the cloud intelligently and successfully, allowing you to achieve the operational excellence you demand while delivering superior patient care.
James Whitemore is Executive Vice President of Smoothstone IP Communications, a provider of cloud-based communications for enterprise-level companies (www.smoothstone.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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