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How DDI Solutions for Healthcare Elevate Network Automation

Healthcare network automation is empowered by DDI Solutions for healthcare, NSoT & APIs, crucial for operational efficiency, cost control & UX. These are key to enhancing network resilience, security and regulatory compliance, as shown in IDC's Network Automation Report.

January 26, 2024 | Written by: Surinder Paul | , , , , , , ,

Ddi Solutions for Healthcare

Network reliability is a critical necessity in the healthcare sector as it directly impacts patient care. The industry grapples with the challenges of maintaining seamless connectivity for essential services, simplifying multi-cloud and IoT management, and ensuring anywhere access to confidential patient data. Network modernization is vital to dealing with this complex scenario, with network automation being crucial for efficient deployment and management of network resources and security policies. Key to automation is a Network Source of Truth (NSoT) and secure, open APIs. For this, DNS-DHCP-IPAM known as DDI solutions for healthcare play a central role in advancing network automation projects. Leveraging smart DDI as a Network Automation Hub boosts operational efficiency, network resilience, and security compliance, as underscored in IDC’s 2023 Network Automation Report.

Elevating healthcare with advanced network automation

IDC’s research found that a significant portion of organizations in this sector, about 67%, are at a ‘Limited’ maturity level in network automation. This indicates a heavy reliance on manual processes with only occasional ad-hoc automation efforts. This lack of a comprehensive automation strategy leads to inefficiencies in the sector.

While there is a need for network automation maturity to increase, there are a few primary drivers for healthcare organizations to embrace network automation. We found that business model transformation and operating cost reduction are key factors, cited by 65% of decision-makers. Enhancing customer experience and business resilience are other key factors particularly crucial in this industry due to their direct impact on patient health.

However, this transition faces obstacles, such as a lack of consistency in automation efforts, challenges in automating specific tasks, security concerns, and difficulties implementing organizational and process changes. These inhibitors highlight the need for a more strategic approach to automation, especially in the medical department, considering its critical impact on efficiency and patient care.

Overcoming healthcare’s technical barriers

Enabling different tools to communicate and share information is one of the biggest issues impeding network automation. Nearly half of the decision-makers flagged it as a challenge, with problems due to different tools functioning on different formats, APIs, and protocols.

Furthermore, 40% face the challenge of lacking a trusted Network Source of Truth (NSoT), leading to fragmented network data and inefficient management of network objects and devices. Additionally, 53% struggle with automating legacy network systems, which were not designed with contemporary security requirements, making integrating modern solutions difficult.

However, these obstacles are worth overcoming as the benefits of network automation in healthcare are significant. Medical institutions have observed notable improvements in IT team productivity and operational efficiency. Service deployment has become faster, with considerable reductions in operating costs and MTTR (Mean Time to Repair). Additionally, this automation has led to fewer human errors and network outages. It also enhances network capacity planning and bolsters security compliance, further solidifying its value in the healthcare sector. Prioritizing network automation initiatives is crucial for healthcare institutions to overcome these technical barriers and reap the benefits of a more efficient and secure network infrastructure.

Healthcare’s strategic path to enhanced network management 

Network automation in the medical sector focuses on data center networks, security, compliance, Zero Trust, security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), and application and service delivery. IDC’s research shows that healthcare organizations will prioritize tasks like network security analysis, zero-touch operations for network changes and provisioning, and network state monitoring over the next two years. Emphasizing automated upgrades and efficient resource management, these initiatives address the increasing complexity and cybersecurity threats healthcare networks face. 

DDI plays a crucial role in orchestrating the entire lifecycle of vital network resources in healthcare settings, ranging from the initial deployment of life-saving medical devices, all the way through to their secure retirement. This is especially critical for Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), where everything from advanced imaging equipment to wearable health monitors relies on robust network infrastructure for reliable and safe operation. This role ensures streamlined and efficient management across the network’s operational span, facilitating automated workflows and lifecycle management. Including DDI in network security automation also empowers medical organizations to enhance their security posture with more efficient policy management and real-time configuration changes, bolstering their defense against cyber threats.

Building blocks of healthcare’s network automation journey

In this sector, network automation’s foundation is built on several key components, each playing a unique role in enhancing network functionality and security. Central to this are SDN/SD-WAN controllers, which manage network paths efficiently, closely followed by DDI solutions for healthcare which are vital for coordinating DNS, DHCP, and IP address management. Configuration managers such as Ansible, Terraform, and others complement the top 3 network automation tools most used in healthcare to provision, configure, and orchestrate advanced workflows.

Underpinning all these is the NSoT, a centralized, up-to-date, and accurate network data repository. NSoT’s role is critical for network automation in ensuring consistent network configurations and other network operations, easing troubleshooting processes, and bolstering network security, yet its implementation remains limited in many organizations. This holistic approach is essential for maintaining network integrity and operational efficiency in the dynamic healthcare environment.

There is limited use of dedicated IP Address Management (IPAM) tools in healthcare, with only 27% of organizations employing them as their Source of Truth and a majority relying on Excel. This can pose significant challenges, as a reliance on manual processes and less specialized tools like Excel can lead to increased human error, outdated data, and inefficiencies in managing network resources.

Such gaps in utilizing advanced IPAM tools hinder the effective centralization and accuracy of network data, essential for streamlined and error-free network automation processes in healthcare. This underscores the need for more robust and specialized tools to ensure the integrity and efficiency of network management.

Crafting the future of healthcare IT with innovative DDI solutions for healthcare

More than half of the organizations in this sector recognize the high importance of DNS, DHCP, and IP Address Management (DDI) in their network automation strategies, a figure projected to rise to 88% within two years. DDI, functioning as a reliable NSoT, solves network automation issues by facilitating comprehensive end-to-end network automation. 70% of these organizations already share DNS data and events with their security operations teams.

DDI’s implementation in healthcare significantly enhances compliance with security regulations and laws like HIPAA in the US, with 80% of organizations using it for this purpose. Additionally, roughly half employ DDI for security policy, infrastructure, and application lifecycle management, while slightly less utilize it for capacity planning. Notably, healthcare organizations perceive DDI as beneficial for consolidating trusted network data and reducing risks. However, despite the high adoption rate of DDI solutions for healthcare, the use of IPAM as an NSoT stands at just 27%.

Open APIs in DDI systems should be used to interconnect IT tools and ecosystems, streamlining the lifecycle management of networking operations and enabling autonomous, zero-touch operations. This integration of DDI into healthcare networks ensures up-to-date and accurate NetSecOps automation, security policy deployment, and configuration rule management.

Transforming networks with EfficientIP’s pioneering DDI solutions for healthcare

EfficientIP’s DDI solution with built-in NSoT and secure, open APIs are a game changer for healthcare organizations worldwide, helping them modernize their networks. Our advanced DDI technology serves as a Network Automation Hub that pushes and pulls actionable data through automated workflows, fueling other tools in the network ecosystem. It enhances network availability and performance, enabling healthcare institutions to discover and manage network objects effortlessly across various environments. This approach facilitates autonomous networks, improves operational efficiency through automated processes, and significantly reduces configuration errors.

EfficientIP’s DDI solutions for healthcare help protect against unauthorized access and data breaches, adhering to stringent regulations like HIPAA and GDPR by ensuring high service resilience and automating security policy deployments. Simplifying IoT and connected device management, EfficientIP’s IPAM provides a consolidated, up-to-date data source integral to network automation tools. The  documented REST API allows seamless task automation, auto-discovery of devices in multi-cloud environments, enforcement of predefined policies for IP address allocation, rapid DNS record updates, and other functions to ensure standardization and consistency across the network.   

In an increasingly complex era of networks, EfficientIP’s DDI solutions for healthcare offer a transformative approach to network automation. By integrating DDI into their network strategies, medical organizations can ensure reliable and secure network performance, which is crucial for delivering exceptional patient care and safeguarding sensitive data in a rapidly evolving digital domain.

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