What are a few key steps that medical practices and physician groups should take to reduce the amount of downtime they have and maximize their uptime?
In the current environment, so much of the medical field depends on the internet, and with a growing number of patients depending on digital communications and telehealth visits, internet uptime is more important than it has ever been in the past.
Unfortunately, not every medical system has a reliable internet connection, and this can lead to downtime, which can harm patient outcomes and disrupt revenue growth. What are a few key steps that medical practices and physician groups should take to reduce the amount of downtime they have and maximize their uptime?
One of the first steps that medical systems and hospitals need to take is that they must make sure they have redundancies in place. Everything has to be backed up regularly, and that includes everything from medical records to research information and administrative documents. That way, in the event the internet goes down, all is not lost, and there is a way for the practice to continue moving forward.
Ideally, at least one backup copy should be stored off-site, disconnected from the rest of the digital information. If the hospital or medical practice falls victim to a virus, not all of the files will be corrupted.
Unfortunately, domain name system (DNS) problems can also pose problems for medical practices, and during times when there is a significant amount of internet traffic, the system can become overloaded, interfering with its efficacy. There is a chance that your local router could be configured to operate as a DNS server, but you can address this issue quickly. Check your network’s dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) settings, and ensure you directly access your DNS servers to solve this problem.
Just as you encourage your patients to schedule their routine physicals at least once per year, you need to invest in routine maintenance for your network as well. For example, a bad cable, a poor Wi-Fi signal, or a failing network card could make it difficult for you to ensure your internet connection remains intact.
In addition, you should leave all of your workstation TCP/IP settings as “automatically assigned.” This can go a long way toward preventing many of the problems discussed above, ensuring that you minimize potential downtime.
There is a saying that a castle is only as strong as its weakest wall, and in some cases, this could be the staff at the hospital or the practice itself. You can go a long way toward preventing potential issues by investing in extra training.
For example, make sure you train your staff members on proper password hygiene. Everyone needs to change their passwords from time to time, and they need to know what a strong password looks like. You should also educate your employees on what a phishing attack looks like so they do not fall victim to one themselves, jeopardizing the entire facility’s data. By reducing the chances of a potential cyberattack, you can ensure reliable uptime.
Finally, you also need to plan for the future. As the baby boomer generation continues to get older, more stress will be placed on the healthcare system. This means that your practice and hospital system needs to be prepared for this growth, which is going to come with an increase in digital traffic.
You must make sure your hosting provider and internet connection can handle this type of increased traffic, which means investing in scalability. You should test your system from time to time to make sure it is ready to handle more traffic, and that is where a professional can help you.
The reality is that you need to think carefully about how you can minimize your downtime because it plays a significant role in your ability to deliver reliable patient care. So much of the medical field depends on a reliable internet connection, and if you have too much downtime (or unusable uptime), it can lead to untenable delays in patient care, harming patient outcomes.
On the other hand, if you maximize your uptime, you can streamline the delivery of quality patient care, leading to improved outcomes. Do not hesitate to reach out to an expert who can provide you with a comprehensive audit of your network connectivity and ensure you can deliver the care your patients deserve.
Greg Davis is the CEO of Bigleaf Networks, a leading provider of network optimization solutions. Davis has a record of scaling businesses through revenue growth, operations, and strategic acquisitions. He has 25+ years of tech leadership, leading start-ups to $100M+ in annual revenue. He has been on the board of directors for Bigleaf Networks since 2020.