Your Network May Be Aging Faster than You Are: How to Keep Your Backbone Strong

By: Susan Larson, Marketing Communications Manager

Doctor operating CT scanner in hospitalConfession: I have a bad back. At the ripe old age of 41, I have a degenerated disc in my lower back that causes some really annoying pain anytime it rains or, to be honest, when I dance too much at a wedding.

Part of my treatment involves getting periodic X-rays to assess the dysfunctional disc and make sure it’s not getting worse. Every year, I make an appointment with my Orthopedist. The appointment starts with the X-Ray. After that, I walk to the other side of the building to meet with the doctor and review my X-rays.

Remember when you had to carry those giant X-ray films from doctor to doctor? There would be a stack of three or four sheets of film, each roughly the size of a ceiling tile, placed ever-so-conveniently into a giant-sized folder. (I’m pretty sure I still have a few sets of films shoved behind my dresser. Where else are you supposed to store those things?)

Those days are over. Now, nearly everything in a doctor’s office is stored and shared digitally.

Normally, by the time I reach the exam room 10 minutes after the X-ray, the image of my spine has already traversed their network and is displayed prominently on the doctor’s monitor. However, at my last appointment, there was a lag in the transfer of the image… resulting in a very awkward 7 minutes of silence and intermittent small talk about our weekend activities.

The doctor explained that because the office was particularly busy that morning (the number of broken bones tends to spike after a holiday weekend…who knew?), there were a lot of diagnostic image files being transferred simultaneously. This included not only my X-ray file, which at less than 5 MB, was minuscule in comparison to the other files flying around the network that morning, but lots of MRIs and other testing images as well. A typical MRI study generates 200 images, requiring about 40 MB uncompressed.

When you multiply those file sizes by the number of patients filling the waiting room that morning, it adds up quickly. When you combine that bandwidth with the bandwidth being chewed up by other applications like wireless, electronic record storage and plain old email, the demand on that office’s network skyrockets.

I saw first-hand what happens when a network can’t hold up to all that stress. File transfer was slow. Poor network performance could also result in weak wireless connections or an inability to download email attachments. In the end, that office’s underperforming network resulted in interrupted medical care, which, depending on the circumstances, could be a very, very dangerous thing.

I’m happy to report that I resisted the urge to ask what type of cabling was running behind the walls. I’m pretty sure my spine doctor wouldn’t know or care what the answer was anyway.

Chances are, if you’ve made it this far in the post, you probably have a little more stake in the performance of your network than my doctor does. Click here to learn how Berk-Tek’s solutions can help.

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