Making Your EHR Applications Work with Complete Performance Visibility


Guest post by Sean Armstrong, Director of Product Management at AppNeta.

Today, healthcare practices run on critical applications that connect remote users (hospitals, physicians, clinics) to centralized and hosted resources. From the largest medical centers to small clinics, healthcare organizations depend on network-sensitive applications every day. Electronic Health Records (EHR), ePrescriptions, medical imaging, online medical registries, desktop virtualization, VoIP, IP storage, cloud–based system, Software-as-a-Service — all of these critical applications help keep hospitals, physicians and clinics running. When these slow down or crash, so do the healthcare providers and the offices relying on them.

Here are five main reasons why every healthcare provider needs be able to monitor and manage application and network performance:

  1. You need to quickly find and fix network performance problems before they impact the performance of EHR records and other critical applications to ensure doctors don’t need to forego these methods for pen and paper. 
  2. You want to minimize problems associated with unpredictable connectivity to centralized data, which frustrate and compromise the efficiency of overworked clinical and clerical staff whose time is so valuable. 
  3. You are charged with ensuring that the migration and consolidation of electronic health records, as well as the rollout of new, network-dependent services like video conferencing, goes smoothly and does not negatively impact existing applications. 
  4. You are looking to optimize the performance of an ever-growing number of wireless devices from mobile nurse stations to tablets to wearable medical devices like heart monitors. 
  5. Any healthcare provider’s ability to successfully leverage virtualization, infrastructure-as-a-service and similar initiatives depend on its ability to guarantee application service levels from the user’s perspective. 

As all sectors of the industry are transitioning to EHRs, the effect from new network-dependent applications failing can be catastrophic. Without truly understanding network health and available capacity, important applications and services stall or fail completely. When bandwidth, latency, and other key parameters fall below acceptable thresholds, network-dependent services and applications abruptly become unusable. This potentially compromises not only business efficiency, but also patient care.

Unfortunately, many IT professionals responsible for delivering site-to-site access to clinical data lack visibility into the various WANs, remote LANs, and service provider clouds that connect centralized resources to remote offices. However, this lack of visibility can easily be resolved by purchasing and implementing an effective performance management solution. You should search out a solution that offers broad (yet granular) visibility, which will allow you to identify tough performance bottlenecks. The proper solution should bring together detailed application performance insight, comprehensive end-user monitoring and 360-degree network performance visibility.

Here are three key attributes to look for in a performance management solution for assuring EHR and application performance:  

  1. End User Experience for EHR web application performance:  Traditional network traffic analysis tools don’t provide the web application insight needed to guarantee a quality user experience of EHR services and other critical applications. It’s imperative to find a performance management tool that not only monitors what’s happening on your network, but also provides deep visibility into the performance of your web application. Your performance management solution should provide you with a deep and detailed view of the specific elements of the web-based application that are causing performance degradation. 
  2. Ease of use/speed of analysis: In emergency situations with patient health at risk, seconds can save lives and it’s vital to be able to monitor and troubleshoot the issues quickly and efficiently … without needing a PhD in computer networking. Look for solutions that feature a well-designed, configurable and vendor-supported dashboard to ensure that you know accurately and immediately if application performance is suffering. 
  3. Support for remote sites: As your health care organization grows, so do the number of remote branches, all of which need high-functioning networks. This means you need to be able to gauge the impact of their activities on the WAN. Likewise, you need to be able to monitor and troubleshoot networks at remote branches without actually visiting them. That rules out tools that require instrumentation you don’t have at remote sites, or that otherwise aren’t easy to deploy and manage remotely. 

With these key attributes in hand, any hospital IT executive should be prepared to select and implement a performance management solution that will provide them with the visibility needed to assure the performance of mission-critical applications, especially EHR.

Sean Armstrong is the Director of Product Management at AppNeta, a leading provider of SaaS solutions for exceptional performance of business-critical applications. As Director of Product Management, Sean oversees the vision and execution of product innovation, ensuring that AppNeta is continuing to lead the performance management industry.

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