Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Voice and Data Bandwidth for Hospitals

Hospitals and medical centers need massive amounts of electronic communications infrastructure to operate efficiently, so to speak. With advances in imaging technology and the move to electronic records, this need could grow perhaps exponentially. Is there any way to keep the rising cost of health care in check with this kind of demand for every increasing telecom needs?

You bet there is. First let's take a look at what types of capability are required. Along the way, we'll see what we can do about the costs.

The most basic need of any organization is telephone voice communications. In any facility with more than a few phones that most likely means a PBX phone system. The Private Branch Exchange has come a long way over the years and may now sit on a shelf or in a rack rather than occupying an entire room. Even with legacy equipment, there is major cost savings to be had in consolidating a dozen or two analog phone lines into an ISDN PRI digital trunk running on a T1 line. If more than 23 outside lines are needed, additional T1 lines can be installed, usually by plugging them into an interface card in the PBX.

It should be noted that ISDN PRI trunk line prices have plunged in recent years and that competitive service providers may be able to provide the same level of T1 service that is currently being used at a lower price. Or for the same budget amount, telephone capability can be expanded to meet a growing need.

For greenfield installations or retrofits, IP PBX systems are popular. They perform the same function as the traditional PBX in being an in-house telephone exchange. The big advantage is that the IP PBX supports VoIP handsets. T1 lines carrying ISDN PRI digital telephone service work just as well for an IP PBX. But you also have the option to employ the newer SIP trunking to keep everything in the VoIP realm. That can translate into potentially large additional cost savings.

The other high demand technology within hospitals and medical centers today is data communications. The combined requirements of high definition imaging equipment, such as XRAY, CAT and PET scanners along with medical records access and normal purchasing activity means that getting information into or out of any facility requires a fairly large "pipe." A T1 line may be adequate for smaller satellite offices or a doctor's office. But larger organizations are needing DS3 bandwidth at 45 Mbps or fiber optic connections starting at OC3 or 155 Mbps.

Like digital voice lines, data communication lines have come down in price the last few years. Competitive service providers may be able to offer a considerable cost savings by simply replacing high cost line services with equivalent services from lower cost providers. But the real excitement comes from the new Carrier Ethernet networks. Carrier Ethernet is a technology that is now competing directly with SONET fiber optic service with savings as high as 50% or more in some cases. Carrier Ethernet, also known as Metro Ethernet, offers bandwidths starting at 5 Mbps and easily going up to 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and even 10 Gbps. The higher the bandwidth, the greater the savings per Mbps over traditional fiber optic services.

If you are responsible for hospital, medical center, or doctor's office telecommunication expenses and would like to see how much you could be saving on your monthly voice and data line bills, find out quickly and easily with our GigaPackets bandwidth evaluation service. You may be astounded at the results.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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