Of all the specializations in the healthcare industry, mental health providers face some of the most complex sets of data and regulatory challenges.
As researchers continue to uncover significant links between mental and physical health, the mental health patient load has increased dramatically. And in this period of rising mental illness and a shortage of mental health resources, these same healthcare organizations are tasked with improving data privacy and security, provider access, personal and professional communication, storage, and analytics. Moreover, mental health providers face some of the most stringent legal and regulatory burdens in the industry.
When a North Carolina mental healthcare provider came to CBTS to update its network infrastructure, the primary goal was to consolidate the wide disparity of equipment and platforms that had evolved over the years, as the practice had expanded from a single office to multiple sites across several states in the southeastern U.S. With only two members on their IT team, the new infrastructure had to meet numerous requirements:
- Low cost.
- Easy to operate.
- Easy to upgrade.
- Supports HIPAA compliance and other regulatory requirements.
- Top-notch security.
- High availability.
- Dynamically scalable.
After reviewing several on-premises and service delivery options, it became clear the best approach was a Network as a Service (NaaS) solution with Cisco Meraki technology at its core.
Unlike traditional network environments, NaaS provides a virtualized, software-defined solution that is cheaper and easier to deploy and operate, with a level of flexibility more in tune with the dynamic nature of today’s data flows.
As a managed service, NaaS provides the robust connectivity organizations need without requiring the addition of personnel to maintain it. Once the Cisco Meraki Dashboard is in place, day-to-day operational responsibilities—such as resource provisioning, network mapping, and security monitoring—are handled by experienced professionals at CBTS, while preserving the ability for internal IT staff to monitor and adjust the network as necessary.
This level of fine-grain visibility extends across the network architecture, from the local data center to branch or secondary locations and beyond to the next-gen UTM edge. Technicians on the enterprise side maintain full control through a simple, user-friendly interface, and can see all alerts, discrepancies, and operational metrics on any device no matter their location.
And to support HIPAA compliance efforts of healthcare organizations, NaaS can be configured to encrypt data before transmission. Although not formally designated as a HIPAA-compliant solution—since that extends beyond the scope of networking—NaaS nevertheless reinforces compliance by adding an extra layer of data protection at the network level, which is coming increasingly under attack by hackers. With data encrypted in motion, criminals who manage to break into the network are not able to decipher the data without access to the original encryption keys.
The NaaS framework is deployed easily and tailored to the organization’s unique data demands without expensive retrofitting or forklift upgrades. With NaaS, the networking infrastructure is continually updated, so the organization is always equipped with state-of-the-art technology without significant upfront capital outlays. Additionally, NaaS facilitates the expansion of new sites and easily handles ever-increasing data loads. In these scenarios, business policies can be set to ensure the network can manage increased volume without interrupting or degrading performance for existing users.
Serving mental health needs in today’s hectic, chaotic world is a stressful endeavor, which can ultimately wear on the mental health of providers. One of the ways to relieve that burden is to shed responsibility for support services, like networking, to a provider whose core business is to deliver stress-free IT services to clients.
With NaaS, organizations tasked with improving the mental health of patients will find that they can deliver improved services and achieve better outcomes than those that continue to rely on aging infrastructure. And in this way, they can help make entire communities safer and more productive.
To learn more about how CBTS can help you solve your networking pain points with NaaS, visit cbts.com/communications/network-service-naas.