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become the hallmarks of the new and more sustainable infrastructure, resulting in overall lower costs of operation and administration.

Four levels of convergence

The four types of IT convergence for healthcare facili- ties, starting with the foundation, include: infrastructure convergence, network convergence, data convergence and operational convergence. Total IT convergence can be planned and accomplished in stages over a period of time, beginning with the in- frastructure as the foundation. Some leading healthcare facilities have realized up to a 20 percent savings in materials and labor simply by implementing a converged infrastructure rather than a traditional set of multiple dedicated infrastructures. The overall goal, however, is ultimately to arrive at the level of convergence that best meets the organization’s needs, timetable and budget.

Planning a converged infrastructure

There is no doubt that convergence is driving a dra- matic transformation of the healthcare industry – a trans- formation in which medical and information technologies play a huge role. Careful and collaborative planning of the communication infrastructure at the design stage of healthcare building construction or modernization can not only save millions of dollars over the long term, but also can ensure that the systems it supports will perform reliably for many years to come. High-performance, IP-based Ethernet networks are the standard for infrastructure convergence, primarily because they provide an integrated connectivity platform for real-time collaboration, monitoring and control, along with myriad voice, data, video and multimedia applica- tions. Typically, the ideal Ethernet communication frame- work will include an optimized mix of copper and fi ber- based cabling and connectivity, with a wireless overlay. The two should be expressly designed to work together to fulfi ll mission-critical functions within each network area, while taking into account patient safety, network performance, mobility, reliability and cost factors.

Selecting network components

The cabling plant should comprise components engineered and manufactured to provide reliable and consistently high performance levels. It should be built on an open and fl exible architecture to allow the network to grow and change as needs dictate over an extended period of time, without making signifi cant changes to the backbone.

In selecting the cabling and other system components, planners must take into account the required transmission speed (expressed as Gb/s or gigabits per second), and the

www.healthmgttech.com A word about wireless

In just a few short years, wireless networking has become a critical aspect of the hospital IT environment, allowing staff members to remain connected to their critical systems regardless of their location. To be most effective, a hospital’s wireless network must provide ubiquitous, uninterrupted wireless connectivity and cen- tralized management, as well as 99.999 percent uptime, security safeguards, and full interoperability with all Wi- Fi-enabled products.

HMT HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY July 2010 15

The Belden IBDN 10GX System UTP cabling and connectivity solution is ideal for use in high-performance environments, such as healthcare facilities. The copper-based system exceeds all Category 6A performance requirements of the ANSI/TIA 568C.2 Standard and delivers guaranteed performance up to 625 MHz (125 MHz beyond the standard).

bandwidth or capacity (expressed as MHz or megahertz). In determining these factors, it is crucial to keep in mind not only current requirements, but also the expanded demands of the future. With digital convergence of healthcare information systems on the upswing, demand is growing for health- care networks to incorporate internal communications systems, monitoring and control of clinical equipment, VoIP, fi re and life safety systems, security systems, en- vironmental control systems, and wireless and mobile communications. Larger hospitals and medical campuses may also want to plan for video conferencing and training facilities, as well as telemedicine, which involves data-intensive applications such as remote consultations and digital image transfer of X-rays and other diagnostic imaging technologies.

Convergence of such diverse and complex applications and systems demands an open, standards-based cabling plant that allows for both public and private networks, utilizing advanced Ethernet technologies.

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