Maybe you've heard complaints about the high cost of health care, maybe you've thought that industry is wasting money.
I work in Health Care and support about a hundred hospitals and clinics, many in remote, rural areas. The are places where folks need access to highly educated doctors and high tech tools to save lives and improve them, but there are no health care specialists to help locally.
My organization relies on Telehealth technology that enables a doctor to help someone several hundred miles away. It's a kind of video phone solution that's portable and uses wireless and WAN bandwidth to let the doctor see and speak to the patient. It enables the provider to coach other doctors or nurses at the patient's location, and give the patient great care without requiring the patient to drive hours (sometimes through heavy snow on icy roads) to meet the specialist in person.
But what happens when there isn't enough wireless or WAN bandwidth available to support these kinds of services across a WAN? Or when something works one day, but not the next? Patients go without needed care, appointments aren't kept and have to be rescheduled for some distant future date when the specialist is available again.
Here's where NTA steps in and saves the bacon.
The first time I saw NTA and NPM reporting that WAN thresholds for utilization were being exceeded, the problem was already affecting patients. NTA enabled me to identify the problem bandwidth consumer and their technology, which enabled me to coach the site about how to better manage their WAN resources for patient and corporate and reduce its use for personal entertainment.
Maybe you're bored at home, and want to watch streaming videos or listen to streaming audio over your Internet. Maybe you become accustomed to that, and decide to try it at work--and it works! So you make a habit of it, streaming across Guest Internet services that use corporate WAN and WLAN bandwidth. Suddenly the necessary bandwidth isn't available to provide care for a patient using Telehealth, and you're not even aware you're causing the problem. NTA immediately shows the source & destination IP addresses, identifies the type of traffic as streaming audio/video for personal entertainment--separate from Telehealth A/V profiles-- and enables me to let the site know which computer is involved in the flow. I look up the PC's records and find who was logged into it at the problem times, and answer the site Manager's questions about the use. The problem was resolved, the entertainment flow was stopped, and the Telehealth session was able to continue. And the patient gets their needed care.
Thanks to NTA.
It's not the only time NTA has found and solved problems for me.
When the organization adopts a new technology, they test it on campus in our big hospitals where everyone has gigabit connectivity to the wired desktop, and multi gig connections from access switches to Distribution switches, and 40 gig connections between Distribution and Core services and the Data Center Distribution gear. But when those new applications or technologies are deployed to neighborhood and remote regional sites across much smaller WAN pipes, Management may not think about those sites being much different from campus sites. However, some of those sites were only able to afford a 5 Mb broadband VPN WAN connection back o the data centers. Which means bandwidth-intensive technologies and applications may not work at all there, or may work very slowly.
NTA alerts when WAN pipes are full, shows the conversations going across them based on source & destination IP addresses and ports, and identifies the kind of traffic taking place.
My team can look at NTA's information historically or in real time and know which users or technologies or applications are causing problems to other users across those small WAN pipes. Meaning we can explain to the customers and their managers which the technologies are interfering, and why the applications are slow or unable to work at all.
That gives us the ability to guide and coach Administration in their drive to better support rural health needs. We can show how much bandwidth must be purchased at any given site for successful application use based on the technologies required for care at that site.
A case in point: a new voice transcription technology called Dragon was tested and approved on campus. Providers were trained on its use and began saving time and money with it by getting cases transcribed directly, instead of first recording it and then send it to folks who would listen to the recordings and key in the information manually. But when Dragon was deployed to regional sites with tiny WAN circuits, other WAN-based services began failing at those sites.
NTA identified the site's conversation addresses and technologies and showed 99% of the bandwidth was being consumed by Dragon, leaving nothing left for telephony, e-mail, or electronic health care record access.
We were able to use this information to help Management understand that either more bandwidth was required at these sites, or Dragon could not be used. More bandwidth was purchased, and patients and providers were no longer frustrated--all due to NTA identifying the problems quickly and efficiently and accurately.
I could go on and on about how NTA has proven its worth--most recently it showed how deploying Guest WLAN services for public Internet was negatively affecting patient care WAN services at various sites. The solution was to either provide additional bandwidth equal to what the Guests were consuming for Netflix and Youtube streaming, or restrict bandwidth for those applications, or restrict Guest Internet utilization completely at problem sites. Now Management has the tools to help them understand the cause of the issues, and some options to consider and from which they can choose solutions appropriate for any given situation.
Thanks NTA, for making my life easier, and for giving Management the facts and making options available to them.
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