The corona crisis is increasing the need for reliable connectivity

The coronavirus has accelerated the process of digitalization in the care sector. The online exchange of patient information, remote consultations and patients taking their own blood pressure, etc., at home: these are just some of the digital resources currently being used by care healthcare providers. This increased digitalization demands good, reliable, secure connectivity. Dark Fibre is increasingly being recognised as the solution to these needs.

Our healthcare sector specialist, Edwin de Steenhuijsen Piters, is now having more contact than ever before with healthcare providers and systems integrators, who often arrange the services for these providers. We asked Edwin about his vision for the future.

Edwin de Steenhuijsen Piters: the corona crisis is increasing the need for reliable connectivity

Previously, digitalization of healthcare services has not really got up and running throughout the sector: although healthcare providers are enthusiastic, they are also cautious. Since the coronavirus, however, everything has changed. Digital resources that people were looking at but not yet using so much, are now essential to the ongoing provision of healthcare.

Edwin: “eHealth was on care providers’ agendas, but not always close to the top. COVID-19 has changed this. Whereas previously care providers were taking baby steps, now they are making giant strides. Despite the trauma of the past months, these new developments are seen in a positive light. I am regularly in contact with parties in the healthcare sector, and the change is palpable. Digitalization is making healthcare more efficient. Connectivity, essential for the implementation of eHealth, has become a basic requirement. In order to deliver connectivity, you need a reliable highway. More and more, Dark Fibre is being seen as such a highway.”

Trends in the area of digitalization of healthcare

The past year has been a hectic one for all healthcare providers. Care professionals have been working day and night to provide optimum care. Care providers’ working methods have also had to change. They have been looking for ways to facilitate communication between patients and professionals, professionals and next-of-kin and professionals among themselves, without physical meetings.

Video calls have proven a good, safe, less time-consuming alternative to visits to a care professional. Electronic health records, apps and home measurements of blood pressure, etc., are being used, and digital resources are also making it possible for people to participate in webinars, meetings and courses. Digitalization of healthcare is making new demands of connectivity.

How have care providers dealt with this?

Edwin: “Corona demands considerable creativity and flexibility from care providers, while putting extra pressure on the IT infrastructure. After all, the amount of data being sent is increasing immensely, meaning that a lot more bandwidth is needed. In addition, all this data traffic has to take place securely, especially as cybercriminals are striking now more than ever. Initially, care providers quickly sought (temporary) solutions for the supply of connectivity. Now, six months on, these providers are reflecting on their experiences. What went well? What could be better? How can we ensure that our data is secure and available 24/7? They are busy optimizing their IT infrastructures, and we as a supplier of Dark Fibre are more and more intensely involved in this process. We are able to supply the basis that allows them to build up reliable infrastructure and to respond to the many trends in the digital provision of healthcare, and these are only set to continue, also after the coronavirus pandemic.”

The major trends increasing the need for connectivity

  • Mobile solutions for patients: there are many mobile applications and devices that help patients take measurements themselves and track their own state of health. This means the patient is more involved in the healthcare process. In 2020, for example, many COVID-19 tracking apps were downloaded.
  • Digital consultations: there has been a massive increase in remote provision of healthcare using video conferencing and special care applications. Consultations with the doctor combined with patients taking their own measurements at home are a good way of avoiding physical contact.
  • Diagnoses using artificial intelligence: artificial intelligence for the analysis of medical data and to provide insights by combining data from different sources can help in early diagnosis or preventive treatment. This requires access to data from a wide range of sources.
  • Electronic health records: digitization of patient data and electronic health records have become essential. This allows healthcare processes to be improved, patients to have remote access to their data and also facilitates support by artificial intelligence in making diagnoses. Assuring data privacy and the accuracy of this data is a major challenge.

Will these healthcare trends continue after Corona?

Edwin: “Most certainly! The care that has had to be postponed will have to be made up, and this will take months. Use of digital resources can mean more efficient provision of healthcare. However bad the situation may be, healthcare providers are recognising this now. People are no longer talking about temporary solutions, but about the ‘new normal’.Good connectivity is a basic requirement of this new normal.”

What is good connectivity?

It starts with a good foundation: stable IT infrastructure. The connections must be reliable, secure and scalable. It is also crucially important that continuity of these connections is assured, for example through redundancy. If connections are redundant – which means physically separate, with no crossovers – the risk of the whole network going down is reduced to zero. Relined’s Dark Fibre network allows this to be achieved.

What effect are these developments having on our provision of services?

Edwin: “The number of requests we are receiving is increasing, both from healthcare providers and from systems integrators. I anticipate an even more explosive increase in demand for good connectivity in the New Year, and I expect that Dark Fibre will form the basis for this. The market is much more favourable now than a few years ago. By choosing your own Dark Fibre now, it is possible to deliver better quality for less expenditure. And this opens up a whole range of possibilities for healthcare providers.”

Relined Fiber Network

Relined can help you create a reliable IT network for your healthcare provider using our nationwide, dense Dark Fibre network. We can supply your stable, redundant connection from A to B. As you light up these Dark Fibre connections using your own equipment, you have greater control over the security of your connections. In addition, you can easily scale these up if necessary in the future. And if you need your data to be even more secure, the (light) signal can also be encrypted.