Like many vertical markets today, the healthcare industry depends as much on the availability of information as it does on the skill and specialised expertise of its workforce.
Although technology has not yet been able to assist the healthcare industry with the creation or retention of that expertise, substantial leaps have been made on the information movement front, something that has gone a long way towards improving the quality of healthcare points the world over.
"Timing is everything in the healthcare environment," says Marius Vermeulen, Cisco technical specialist at Tarsus Technologies, "the ability to quickly call up information like a patient's medical record from a central database, or to swiftly get test results or radiology reports to the relevant medical expert for a diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.
"The same goes for accurately communicating a prescription for medicine to the pharmacy," he says. "Clear, legible type transferred in a digitally signed e-mail from the doctor goes a long way towards eliminating both fraud and mistakes."
"It's therefore understandable that best-in-class, standards-based, high-performing networks are critical to the successful functioning of any hospital or clinic," he adds.
By taking the next step and deploying new high-speed wireless networking technologies, Vermeulen says the benefits of networking to the healthcare environment can be extended even further.
"Using wireless networking technologies, high-end equipment, computers and other data-capable devices need no longer be tied to one place in a hospital – all of that equipment can now travel (within reason) to the patient's bedside," he says.
"Furthermore, when an expert opinion is required on a set of test results or a radiology report, the caregiver no longer has to wait for the expert to be in their office or near their computer – the information is accessible wherever they are," he adds.
Apart from the direct healthcare benefits of using a well-designed, high-performance network that consists of wired and wireless components, Vermeulen says that a top-class network can be a huge differentiator for the private healthcare industry.
"Once the underlying infrastructure has been put in place, there's literally no reason why it can't be employed for services such as IPTV, Internet access and other services that make a patient's stay at a private healthcare institution that much more comfortable," he explains.
"Then of course, there's the ability to extend the healthcare institution's infrastructure even further, providing for services like video-conferencing that improve collaboration and efficiency between healthcare experts.
"It's clear that technology can make a vital difference to the quality and speed at which care is delivered – and with benefits that impact on the efficiency of systems and processes, as well as the potential revenues that private healthcare institutions can earn, it's becoming a no-brainer for many institutions," Vermeulen concludes.