Written by: Daniel Haurey on 05/30/24

The presence of legacy equipment within a network carries tremendous risk for any organization, but for some industries, it can create widespread liability. As healthcare practices continue to embrace digital transformation, the importance of a modern, resilient, and secure network is growing exponentially.

Not only are organizations in the healthcare field governed by some of the strictest regulatory compliance standards, they deliver lifesaving services 24/7/365. That means their technology must be responsive constantly, with very little margin for error when every second counts.

A recent blog from leading network infrastructure vendor Extreme Networks outlines the impact of IoT and mobile devices in healthcare facilities and the challenges to the network that accompany the use of those connected solutions. It’s clear that obsolete technology isn’t capable of handling the load, certainly not securely. The blog notes several issues related to legacy tech:

  • IoT and mobile devices increase surface areas, making the network vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially if outdated technology has unpatched vulnerabilities
  • Web consoles that are used to control medical devices don’t encrypt data adding to security risk
  • Often devices are attached to legacy PCs, which further widens the surface area for potential attacks and has a significant impact on performance
  • Legacy system upgrades require expensive, time-consuming processes that administrators often skip

The blog points out that managing legacy networks is a daunting task for administrators and IT staff who subsequently avoid needed updates, heightening the risk of downtime, lost patient data, cyber attacks, and more. Yet, recent research for Extreme Networks by HIMSS found that 59% of healthcare industry respondents ranked cybersecurity challenges among their top three organizational challenges.

Updating Critical Healthcare Network Infrastructure

Any player in the healthcare industry should be examining legacy technology within its network and proactively planning for upgrades to resolve not only performance but also security issues. New network components provide the multilayered security needed to support IoT and mobile devices while also safeguarding patient data. More easily managed, monitored, and supported, new network technology can simplify procedures for overwhelmed healthcare administrators, practice managers, and IT staff. Better yet, pairing modern network technology with managed IT support from a reputable managed services provider well-versed in healthcare technology can create a secure, reliable, responsive network that enables better patient care and more productive staff.

In that research completed by HIMSS for Extreme Networks, the vast majority of respondents – 93 percent – agreed that a modern network is considered a strategic asset essential to the success of healthcare operations. But while there appears to be an acute awareness of the importance of investing in a resilient, reliable network, only 59% of respondents ranked technology modernization and digital transformation as a top priority.

The reasons could vary, but with limited staff and knowledge about technology, many healthcare organizations focus on cybersecurity and applications that enable patient care or employee effectiveness but overlook the technology needed to effectively deploy modern solutions – sophisticated network infrastructure crucial to the success of those other IT projects. Without it, it really doesn’t matter what else a healthcare organization invests in because adjacent systems won’t function as they should, significantly degrading performance.  While that may be inconvenient for most organizations, the critical and timely nature of healthcare means lives could literally be at stake if a disruption occurs.

To learn more about creating and supporting a resilient network, schedule a consultation today. Let Exigent’s expert collaborate with your healthcare practice to create an effective, affordable roadmap to a modern network infrastructure.