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● Network Infrastructure Saving lives at the

speed of light T e private fi ber network has been shown to dramatically reduce the time required to perform virtually any healthcare function.

By Eric Clelland T

he Health Information Exchange of Montana (HIEM) partnered with Cyan to design and deploy

a private fiber network connecting 21 medical facilities throughout rural northern Montana. T e results? HIEM’s network delivers dramatically faster sharing of electronic medical records (EMRs) between physicians and other medical staff across the region, superior patient care and a more sustainable business model. Northwestern and north central

Montana is one of the most beautiful regions in the country, as well as one of the most rural. Delivering healthcare services to the approximately 140,000 residents spread across an area of 45,000 square miles can present considerable challenges, especially when it comes to sharing patient information between

multiple geographically isolated medical facilities in a way that’s quick, secure and cost effi cient.

HIEM is a consortium of fi ve hospi- tals and two federally funded commu- nity health centers formed in 2006 to tackle this challenge. With a $13.6 mil- lion award from the Federal Communi- cations Commission’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program and a $2.4 million cash match provided by partners, HIEM be- gan exploring alternatives for deploying their own private network to improve communication between 21 rural medical facilities throughout the region. Besides delivering better performance than the legacy network consisting of leased T1 lines, the new private network also needed to be fi nancially sustainable.

Controlling their network and future Instead of leasing fi ber lines from

service providers and installing routers at each site, which would’ve involved signifi cant upfront capital expenditures and considerable ongoing costs, HIEM elected to build its own dedicated fi ber network. HIEM selected multiple partners to make this new high-perfor- mance network a reality, including the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), which was instrumental in helping with the fi rst section of the fi ber network; and Cyan, which was chosen to provide networking hardware and software as well as network design and support expertise. Cyan’s Blue Planet software-defi ned

networking (SDN) system initially demonstrated how HIEM could deploy a low-cost, self-owned network to inter- connect the rural facilities by using Cy- an’s packet-optical transport platforms (P-OTPs). Cyan’s Blue Planet network

Eric Clelland is co-founder and CMO, Cyan. For more on Cyan: www.rsleads. com/303ht-208

The network improves image resolution in X-rays and CT scans delivered from HIEM member Kalispell Regional Medical Center. 20 March 2013 HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

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