Are you ready for the future of digital care?

14-04-2021

Digitalisation is the order of the day throughout society. More and more of our information is being given digital form – a complex, painstaking process. In the care sector in particular, it is vitally important that this development is undertaken in the right way. The pace of change within the care sector is rapid: the way work is carried out is changing, as are the means of communication and how information is shared through technological developments and new infrastructure. The digitalisation of care is having radical consequences – also in terms of connectivity. How can you set up your connectivity in such a way that you are ready for the future of digital care?

Key developments for connectivity in digital healthcare

Digital care

What do we mean by digital care? Renowned consultancy McKinsey defines digital care as:

“The application of both digital information and communication with the aim of supporting and/or improving health and health care” (bron: Digitale zorg in Nederland van McKinsey).

This doesn’t mean one single big development, but rather several solutions that combine information in smart ways. It means the possibility to use a variety of apps, sensors and other systems to automate smaller processes. For example, eHealth applications: a good example of these is patients being able to measure their own blood pressure, weight and ECG values at home and pass on the readings using an application. Thanks to remote patient monitoring, doctors and care workers can monitor vital signs remotely and sound the alarm the moment there is cause for concern. This means fewer hospital visits for patients, and that doctors can focus their time on the most urgent matters. And this is just one example of digital care. Digital care means that we are now able to take great strides forwards.

Developments within digital care

We are embracing these technological developments in the Netherlands. In this country, we have good digital infrastructure and a natural aptitude for innovation. Digitalisation is an issue of general contemporary relevance, and the digitalisation of care is a major talking point. The Netherlands is aware of the transition to digital care and has already set out clear goals in this respect. Three other important factors play a role in digital care.

  1. COVID-19 as an impetus for accelerated digitalisation

The corona crisis has made a lot of things more difficult in a testing way. Nevertheless, the pandemic has also greatly accelerated a number of developments – for example, digital care. What about matters such as the swift implementation of e-consult and eHealth applications? If one thing has become clear, it is that COVID-19 has imparted momentum to the digitalisation of care and that healthcare facilities must make use of this momentum.

  1. Better, more pleasant care for patients and care providers

Digital care is changing the experience of care for both patients and care providers, and the quality of care is increasing. eHealth applications, for example, give patients more ‘control’ over their own health, as well as greater insight into this. These kinds of applications also allow patients to get closer to their care providers, who in turn are able to deal more efficiently with administrative work.

  1. Investing in digital care gives great dividends

Investing in digital care can potentially deliver great benefits. McKinsey states: “If just some of the existing, digital care technology that has proven effective is rolled out between now and 2030, the benefits gained represent a potential saving of billions in the estimated annual care budget for the Netherlands. If these savings are re-invested in further innovation, implementation and integration of digital care, in 2030 the total regular gross yield could amount to some 18 billion Euros.” Of course, we will be making investments in the technology and organisation needed to support this technology, but these costs are far outweighed by the benefits.

  1. Exchange of data

Data sharing is a major development within digital care. For example, better treatment methods through the safe sharing of patient details. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are able to arrive at models that help us better predict health risks for patients based on this data.

Risks in relation to digital care

The digitalisation of care also brings risks, including systems going down, while 24/7 availability is crucial to your operation. But also loss of data and dependence on external parties for your IT infrastructure. In addition, lack of the required bandwidth is a big risk. Digital care demands a large quantity of stable bandwidth. The fact that this stability cannot be taken for granted therefore represents a potential risk.

The greatest challenge of all, however, within digital care is keeping data secure and reliable. The increasing switch from physical to digital information is accompanied by increasing instances of hacks and data leaks. For care facilities, it is of course hugely important that sensitive patient data is stored and protected as well as possible. These risks are also being recognised in legislation; for example, in it being a criminal offence to fail to disclose a data leak, in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the European ePrivacy Directive.

Given the security risks digital information entails, it is of the greatest importance to care facilities that they have sound protocols in place governing how data is dealt with and how this is secured. How connectivity is achieved also exerts considerable influence on security risks.

Connectivity in a nutshell

Connectivity is “the ease with which connections to other (company) systems can be made” (source: encyclo.nl). Good connectivity offers you a stable internet connection to which all the devices in your care facility are connected. This digital basis must be capable of meeting the challenges posed by the future of care. You need sufficient bandwidth and devices, and the connections must be well secured.

Fibre-optics is a next step in the improvement of connectivity. As fibre-optics make use of light to carry data, you can imagine that the speeds reached across the internet can be unparalleled.

Also, fibre-optic cables offer far greater stability than copper. With copper, the further you are from the local hub, the less stable your connection. As fibre-optics literally transport data at the speed of light, distance becomes a negligible consideration, and your connection is many times more stable.

Secure connectivity with a Dark Fiber connection

Within the context of fibre-optics, there is also Dark Fiber. This means fibre-optic connections to which no active equipment has yet been connected. Secure connectivity through Dark Fiber is contributing to the network care of the future. A Dark Fiber connection is your own, unshared connection between several locations – for example, between different branches of your organisation. A regular fibre-optic connection is linked to a central network source used by several parties.

Dark Fiber offers a number of benefits:

  1. Unlimited bandwidth;
  2. superfast scalability;
  3. and – one of the most significant aspects in terms of security – complete control.

Together with your system integrator(s) and/or IT services provider, you can set up this Dark Fiber in the best possible way to meet your connectivity needs, as well as easily make adjustments as these needs change.

Relined Fiber Network

Relined Fiber Network is the independent supplier of Dark Fiber connections in the Netherlands and Germany. In cooperation with a range of System Integrators and/or IT service providers, we are able to provide a complete solution for your IT infrastructure. Relined will help you with the connections, and your System Integrator or IT service provider with setting up and managing your network.

Determining the right Dark Fiber infrastructure lays the basis for the further formation of your IT network. Together, we will identify what we want to create and how this should be done. For example, do you require redundancy? A redundant connection is a connection between one or more locations that offers separate routes between the various locations. The benefit of this is that, in the event that one connection goes down, your data traffic is automatically routed through the other connection. This gives you better protection against loss of your connectivity, so ensuring continuity of digital care.

Want to know more about Dark Fiber and the possibilities it offers your care facility? Read our blog about Dark Fiber here. Or contact our care specialist Edwin de Steenhuijsen-Piters.

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