LanDynamix has successfully utilised software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to connect pilot pharmacies located in supermarkets to the network of its client, First Care Solutions.

Peter Clarke, MD of LanDynamix, says the technology’s inherent flexibility, cost-effectiveness and relatively easy deployment played a big role in the pilot project’s success.

First Care Solutions provides outsourced administrative services for 26 emergency practices and other platforms in the telehealth, aviation health and primary health care arena across South Africa. It is a medical administration and services company that enables health care professionals to focus on what they do best. First Care manages administration services for its partners operating in the emergency medicine industry and provides practice digitisation with patient applications, electronic medical records, dashboards, and data sharing repositories.

LanDynamix has an established relationship with First Care whereby it handles all its IT services requirements. Mr. Clarke says recent projects have involved connectivity and backup.

“First Care has recently deployed an EMR system, (Electronic Medical Records) to move away from paper based notes and records,” says Clarke. “As part of this deployment of EMR to all the emergency rooms that they administer, First Care needed to have reliable and redundant connectivity to each of these sites.

“Each site had its own unique connectivity options and LanDynamix deployed hybrid solutions. Some locations have dedicated fibre, some have microwave, and some make use of SD-WAN. Most sites have some sort of redundancy, this could be failover using ADSL or 3G, to outline just some of our services to First Care,” he adds.

LanDynamix also recently completed First Care’s backup solution; complementing its own backup servers by replicating the data to LanDynamix offsite servers.

In the case of the SD-WAN deployment, First Care and the prominent supermarket group wanted to test the concept of providing a range of in-person and virtual consulting services in two stores, for possible rollout more widely across the chain.

Clarke says that the pilot pharmacies needed to be connected rapidly and relatively inexpensively to the First Care network. It was also important to provide a high-quality and stable link that could cope with voice, video, and various applications–all necessary to provide the right experience for clients and staff.

“SD-WAN’s inherent flexibility enabled us to deploy the new network very rapidly, using LTE links from two leading mobile networks, to connect back into the First Care network. The SDWAN device’s built-in intelligence meant we could prioritise the traffic according to business rules to ensure network performance was appropriate,” he says.

Because the SD-WAN makes use of broadband to link into the First Care network, long-term and expensive contracts were avoided–when the pilot is completed, the contract can simply be terminated. This flexibility will also prove useful should the concept be approved for wider rollout–if certain stores moved or the pharmacy was found not to be profitable, the partners would not be tied into long-term contracts. By the same token, if more bandwidth is needed to maintain the necessary performance levels, more broadband links can be easily purchased.

“Because it is software-defined, SD-WAN offers a great deal of flexibility and scalability coupled with rapid deployment–ideal for a business environment in which the ability to roll out new service offerings is crucial,” he says. “Equally important, companies need the ability to quickly pull back if a concept is not working in a particular location. While the choice of network technology is always a function of what the business wants to achieve, the use case for SD-WAN is well demonstrated in this project.”