Metro Ethernet Serves as a ‘Lifeline’ for Perham Health’s Connected Sites
Reliability, security, and speed are crucial in a health care network
Perham Health’s Metro Ethernet service isn’t a health care provider in the traditional sense, but it has its own way of taking care of everyone there who relies on a high-speed network connection to do their jobs.
Metro Ethernet is a high-bandwidth, virtual private network connection ideal for data transport over long distances.
Arvig provides Perham Health’s Metro Ethernet service, with circuits that link the main Perham campus with its clinic, a nursing home and memory care unit, and regional clinics in in New York Mills and Ottertail. Arvig also serves as the last-mile carrier for Perham Health’s connections to out-of-state data centers in Fargo, N.D., Sioux Falls, S.D.
Metro Ethernet provides simple, secure and resilient connectivity between two or more locations and can be used in conjunction with other site to site connectivity options such as SD-WAN or site to site VPN connections.
“Our Metro E circuit is the lifeline that connects us as well as our other clinics,” says Jim Rieber, Perham Health’s Director of IT and Facility Management. “We operate as one system.”
Perham Health’s network supports a minimum of 75 to 100 users to as many as 300 to 400 users at peak times. The internal network sees a high volume of traffic, ranging from email and file shares to electronic medical records and highly-detailed medical imagery.
Perham Health’s network has circuits with bandwidth from 20Mbps to 100Mbps. Network reliability is crucial.
“It’s been essential … to be able to get things reliably transferred, securely transferred and in a meaningful time,” Rieber says. “And that’s only (possible) because of the high-speed capabilities of the data flowing back and forth.”
Data in real time
High speed connections make it possible for information to be shared instantly, and it’s no different at Perham Health. Take this real-world scenario: When a physician enters information into a patient’s medical record from the exam room, by the time that patient goes down the hall to see a specialist, that newly-entered information is available in right away in real time.
“If you look at today’s world, the person can be seen in Fargo, and those records can be instantly available for their physician, who can be in New York Mills or Ottertail clinic or here (Perham),” Rieber says.
Speed isn’t just a part of the the internal network. Data moves just as quickly site to site, and that’s where Metro Ethernet shines.
“With a high-speed connection to a centralized database system, the provider in Otter Tail can pull up all (the patient’s) records from anywhere they’re seen within the Sanford Health system,” Rieber says.
Security and redundancy
Speed isn’t the only important function in a reliable network. Data security is another crucial consideration.
“The other important element for us in the Metro E circuit is the security between the systems,” Rieber explains. “That’s our dedicated circuit. We’re not sharing it with anybody else, and for the protection of the data that we have in place, it’s essential to how we function.”
To ensure reliability and maximum uptime, Perham Health has redundancy plans in place.
“Reliability is essential in today’s market, Rieber says. “We’ve built redundancies in all our systems. We have regular systems, then we have backup systems and we have backups to the backups. Without the quality, reliable high-speed connections, the system slows way down.
“With Arvig, we have a couple different processes in place … so that if we have a failure, we can go to an immediate backup plan so that we can stay up. Our goal is 99.97 percent uptime.”
Rieber predicts that as Perham Health grows and innovates, its bandwidth and network needs will continue to expand. As connectivity continues to integrate into medical devices and in new medical breakthroughs, the need for greater bandwidth, increased speeds and better reliability will be a major factor in providing a high level of care.
“And that’s an area where Arvig has been very good to work with. As our needs grow, they’re able to step up and just grow with our requirements.”