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Edge Computing in Healthcare
In a healthcare organization, IT’s goal is to ensure network and system stability to improve both patient outcomes and ROI. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides many recommendations for how to achieve these goals, and they place a heavy focus on resilience engineering (RE). Resilience engineering enables a healthcare organization to resist and recover from unexpected events, such as surges in demand, ransomware attacks, and network failures. Resilient architectures allow the organization to continue operating and serving patients during major disruptions and to recover critical systems rapidly.

This guide to healthcare network design describes the core technologies comprising a resilient network architecture before discussing how to take resilience engineering to the next level with automation, edge computing, and isolated recovery environments.

Core healthcare network resilience technologies

A resilient healthcare network design includes resilience systems that perform critical functions while the primary systems are down. The core technologies and capabilities required for resilience systems include:

  • Full-stack networking – Routing, switching, Wi-Fi, voice over IP (VoIP), virtualization, and the network overlay used in software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN)
  • Full compute capabilities – The virtual machines (VMs), containers, and/or bare metal servers needed to run applications and deliver services
  • Storage – Enough to recover systems and applications as well as deliver content while primary systems are down

These are the main technologies that allow healthcare IT teams to reduce disruptions and streamline recovery. Once organizations achieve this base level of resilience, they can evolve by adding more automation, edge computing, and isolated recovery infrastructure.

Extending automated control over healthcare networks

Automation is one of the best tools healthcare teams have to reduce human error, improve efficiency, and ensure network resilience. However, automation can be hard to learn, and scripts take a long time to write, so having systems are easily deployable with low technical debt is critical. Tools like ZTP (zero-touch provisioning), and the integration of technology like Infrastructure as Code (IaC), accelerate recovery by automating device provisioning. Healthcare organizations can use automation technologies such as AIOps with resilience systems technologies like out-of-band (OOB) management to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot critical infrastructure.

Using automation to observe and control healthcare networks helps prevent failures from occuring, but when trouble does actually happen, resilience systems ensure infrastructure and services are quickly returned to health or rerouted when needed.

Improving performance and security with edge computing

The healthcare industry is one of the biggest adopters of IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Remote, networked medical devices like pacemakers, insulin pumps, and heart rate monitors collect a large volume of valuable data that healthcare teams use to improve patient care. Transmitting that data to a software application in a data center or cloud adds latency and increases the chances of interception by malicious actors. Edge computing for healthcare eliminates these problems by relocating applications closer to the source of medical data, at the edges of the healthcare network. Edge computing significantly reduces latency and security risks, creating a more resilient healthcare network design.

Note that teams also need a way to remotely manage and service edge computing technologies. Find out more in our blog Edge Management & Orchestration.

Increasing resilience with isolated recovery environments

Ransomware is one of the biggest threats to network resilience, with attacks occurring so frequently that it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a healthcare organization will be hit.

Recovering from ransomware is especially difficult because of how easily malicious code can spread from the production network into backup data and systems. The best way to protect your resilience systems and speed up ransomware recovery is with an isolated recovery environment (IRE) that’s fully separated from the production infrastructure.


A diagram showing the components of an isolated recovery environment.

An IRE ensures that IT teams have a dedicated environment in which to rebuild and restore critical services during a ransomware attack, as well as during other disruptions or disasters. An IRE does not replace a traditional backup solution, but it does provide a safe environment that’s inaccessible to attackers, allowing response teams to conduct remediation efforts without being detected or interrupted by adversaries. Isolating your recovery architecture improves healthcare network resilience by reducing the time it takes to restore critical systems and preventing reinfection.

To learn more about how to recover from ransomware using an isolated recovery environment, download our whitepaper, 3 Steps to Ransomware Recovery.

Resilient healthcare network design with Nodegrid

A resilient healthcare network design is resistant to failures thanks to resilience systems that perform critical functions while the primary systems are down. Healthcare organizations can further improve resilience by implementing additional automation, edge computing, and isolated recovery environments (IREs).

Nodegrid healthcare network solutions from ZPE Systems simplify healthcare resilience engineering by consolidating the technologies and services needed to deploy and evolve your resilience systems. Nodegrid’s serial console servers and integrated branch/edge routers deliver full-stack networking, combining cellular, Wi-Fi, fiber, and copper into software-driven networking that also includes compute capabilities, storage, vendor-neutral application & automation hosting, and cellular failover required for basic resilience. Nodegrid also uses out-of-band (OOB) management to create an isolated management and recovery environment without the cost and hassle of deploying an entire redundant infrastructure.

Ready to see how Nodegrid can improve your network’s resilience?

Nodegrid streamlines resilient healthcare network design with consolidated, vendor-neutral solutions. Request a free demo to see Nodegrid in action.

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