Healthcare is big. Really big. According to researchers at the Altarum Institute the US spent about $3 trillion on healthcare in 2014.
Lost in all the bigness of healthcare, though, is how small it can also be. Think of a rural clinic that’s trying to help people that live in a remote, mountainous area. The clinic doesn’t have a vast array of equipment. They most likely do not have specialists on staff.
What they have is a small group of dedicated people trying to help people live longer, higher quality lives. What they need is scale and connections to other resources in the healthcare system.
That’s what the Colorado Telehealth Network (CTN) is all about. CTN is a non-profit whose mission is to connect physical and behavioral healthcare providers, hospitals, emergency medical systems, and community clinics across the state of Colorado via information and communications technology.
If you’ve been to Colorado, you know it’s a state of contrasting topography. You’ve seen the soaring mountains, but there are also plains in the east and high desert in the south. It is a rugged place and no matter how rugged the individuals living there might be, they still need healthcare. CTN makes the connections between rural clinics and links the countryside with the specialists and other resources in the denser urban areas such as Denver. Bandwidth and reliability are required for the large imaging files the network has to carry on a regular basis. Uptime is crucial since medical staff rely on the network to help their patients.
CTN worked with CenturyLink to turn its patchwork history into a more integrated solution. Together, we established dual hub and spoke network configurations to reach all participating clinics. At the center of each hub is a CenturyLink colocation data center site, one to serve clinics located in the southern part of the state and one to serve sites located in northern Colorado. CenturyLink data centers provided the reach required to have a facility in northern and southern Colorado. As a HIPAA compliant facility, CTN was able to ensure the data center provided the needed security and compliance measures as well as proven reliability. The dual colocation data center sites provide redundancy and business continuity as well as coordination for their respective spokes. The spokes are composed of Metro Ethernet solutions that tie the data centers to the clinics in each end of the state.
And, of course, a healthcare network can never be too secure. So, security is a foundational consideration in designing the Service Level Agreements (SLAs), the network and even the compliance reporting protocols.
This integrated network solution facilitated the sharing of medical images and now, in many cases, local clinics can provide specialist consultations in their home communities without the necessity of having a specialist provider physically onsite. In industries where people’s well-being is involved, connectivity to information and resources is essential. Read our case study to learn more about how CTN is transforming health care access across Colorado.