Analytics technology has transformed the healthcare industry in recent years. Healthcare organizations are projected to spend over $80 billion on analytics services by 2028.
There are many benefits of leveraging analytics in healthcare. Hospitals and individual healthcare providers are using analytics tools to predict the likelihood a patient will develop a disease, minimize medical error rates, reduce costs of delivering treatment and provide a better overall patient experience.
However, there are some downsides to shifting towards a data-driven healthcare delivery model. One of the biggest issues is that the system can break down when healthcare organizations have trouble accessing data.
These problems become more pronounced when healthcare providers have Wi-Fi problems. Their data delivery models become disrupted, which hinders the entire organization.
Wi-Fi Connectivity Problems Can Cripple Data-Driven Healthcare Organizations
With the rise in telehealth services, a doctor’s visit no longer has to be an in-person affair. No more fighting traffic, taking time off from work, or finding a sitter for the kids or unruly pets. You can launch an app or a web browser and go through a medical consultation from the comfort of home.
Digital technology has not just made things more convenient for the patient. It has also made it easier for healthcare companies to store data and improve the efficiency of their business models. They can easily collect data through the company intranet or Internet services that engage with patients and third-party services.
But what happens when your Wi-Fi isn’t working properly? Is your data-driven healthcare organization going to suffer?
Although telehealth and online healthcare options offer patients more conveniences, they depend on reliable internet. Problems like slow and spotty connections can get in the way and make telehealth sessions difficult to impossible. Even if you just need to refill a prescription or schedule an appointment online, Wi-Fi issues create obstacles to healthcare. They can also create problems for companies that rely on the connection to collect data. Since data collection is vital to modern healthcare, this can be a huge problem for hospitals and other healthcare service providers.
Let’s look at some of the ways Wi-Fi difficulties could impact online medical services.
Most home Wi-Fi setups involve a single router or modem. While this solution may work OK in smaller apartments and condos, it’s more challenging in single-family homes. Even condos or townhomes with basements might struggle with poor signal strength if the modem is on the main floor. Symptoms of weak signal strength include dropped and slow connections.
This might not be a huge problem for regular consumers that don’t depend on data to be seamlessly transmitted for their lives to function. A poor connection might be annoying when it prevents you from streaming your favorite show. But it’s a real impediment when you’re discussing your medical history or trying to go over lab results. It can be a huge problem when you need to collect real-time data for your stakeholders. It can also be a problem when you need to make sure the data you are collecting is complete, so your data-driven healthcare organization can function properly. In addition, a virtual healthcare appointment is still an appointment in the eyes of providers and insurance companies. A doctor might reschedule, but you’re more likely to delay or give up on things without a stable connection.
Some people use signal boosters or mesh systems to solve Wi-Fi signal strength problems. However, a smart home Wi-Fi solution takes things a step further. The solution’s artificial intelligence learns how you use Wi-Fi in your home and adjusts the signal strength accordingly. Need more capacity in your home office at 10 a.m. and a boost in the living room during evening hours? Smart Wi-Fi’s on it. Slow and unreliable connections will become a distant memory.
You may have heard about data caps and network limitations but don’t pay much attention to them. That is, until your Wi-Fi suddenly starts moving at the speed of a tortoise just as you’re showing the doctor your nasty rash. Or you look at your bill from last month and see extra charges for going over your plan’s data limits.
Data caps are something that service providers implement to discourage extensive network use. That’s because there’s only so much capacity, especially in areas with antiquated or insufficient infrastructure. During the pandemic, the FCC’s Keep America Connected Pledge encouraged ISPs to temporarily suspend data limits. The goal was to accommodate increased network activity from remote learning, work-from-home arrangements, and telehealth.
However, now that pandemic concerns have waned, data limits and ISP throttling practices are mostly back in place. Throttling is when your service provider slows down your Wi-Fi connection because of high network use. It could be because you’re over your data cap or the network is busy. Throttling can make it difficult to stream a telehealth session or use a health app.
Fortunately, some ISPs don’t impose data limits on a few plans, pandemic or no pandemic. They might also restrict their throttling practices to extreme circumstances related to infrastructure problems. Investigate your current provider’s practices and their competitors’ policies. If you can, switch your plan or carrier to one that better suits your needs.
To help expand healthcare access, the FCC gave out over $350 million in grants to medical organizations. These grants were meant to increase telehealth capabilities and services, particularly in remote areas with limited facilities. Yet these grants don’t help expand broadband access, which is what many people need to make telehealth work.
More bandwidth and higher speeds are necessary for videoconferencing and viewing or downloading graphic-intensive files. Just try to pull up a CT scan or MRI image on a slow connection, and you’ll struggle. But over 14 million homes in urban cities and another 4 million in remote areas still don’t have broadband internet.
Technically, broadband speeds begin at 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. However, some say it’s not enough for telehealth services. That’s because homes are putting more strain on internet connections with multiple smart devices, remote work, gaming, and streaming. In areas where broadband infrastructure like fiber may be lacking, alternatives from cellular carriers can be viable options.
Wireless carriers leverage existing cell towers to provide broadband speed and capacity through fixed wireless or small cell technology. Some providers are doing this at a lower or stable cost for subscribers. People in remote towns don’t necessarily have to resort to DSL or satellite, which is prone to latency. That’s good news for those trying to keep telehealth appointments with far-off providers.
Wi-Fi Problems Create Problems for Data-Driven Healthcare Organizations
Big data is becoming more important than ever for healthcare providers. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi connectivity problems can cause real havoc for data-driven healthcare businesses.
Online medical services are convenient and can reach patients who don’t live near doctors’ offices. However, telehealth isn’t possible without reliable internet and Wi-Fi connections. Issues like spotty signal strength, data caps, and a lack of broadband infrastructure create obstacles to adequate healthcare.
Getting around those obstacles requires innovative and alternative solutions, such as smart or adaptive Wi-Fi. More people can take advantage of online healthcare’s offerings and capabilities with these solutions. Healthcare providers will have more accurate data and can deliver more seamless services. After all, the promise of telehealth rests on more than its availability.