Improved Patient Care Is Upon Us with nGenius and Omnis
How NETSCOUT’s Visibility Without Borders platform helped a prestigious medical center
NETSCOUT’s customers span various industries, but few are more rewarding than healthcare. One such example features a respected, longstanding academic medical center that took advantage of NETSCOUT’s Visibility Without Borders platform to help assure network and application performance and meet cybersecurity needs.
This medical center employs tens of thousands of physicians, nurses, and residents that provide care to patients each and every day. Maintaining application availability and system performance is paramount to ensuring the best care possible for its patients. This is made even more important because this healthcare network covers several regional hospitals and medical offices, including advanced research facilities, a Level 1 trauma center, a world-renowned pediatric hospital featuring a neonatal intensive care unit, and more. It handles millions of outpatient clinical visits per year across hundreds of thousands of unique patients. The scale here is clearly massive, amplifying the center’s need for rapid response to application and network performance degradations.
Imagine if the hospital network’s records systems weren’t functioning properly, and doctors could not access vital scans and test results while a patient was on the operating table. Or if a patient were in an ambulance and EMTs could not communicate with the hospital about patient needs upon arrival at the emergency room. Application downtime and disruptions in network availability can prove catastrophic across the entire hospital ecosystem, and ensuring these mission-critical applications are up and running can be the difference between life and death.
Improving Visibility into Healthcare Applications and Networks
Initially, NETSCOUT was brought on board to provide the nGenius Enterprise Performance Management solution set. This solution was deployed to tackle several challenges. First, there was a gap in visibility throughout the center’s distributed healthcare campus. The next course was set on assuring application performance. This included Epic electronic health records and unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) services for voice and call setup protocols, most notably for SIP trunking. Finally, NETSCOUT helped improve visibility into and performance of the following key areas spanning technology and healthcare clinical services:
- Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) virtualized data center
- Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for secure remote employee access
- Healthcare clinical services
- Health Level 7 (HL7)
- Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) services
So how did NETSCOUT solve this initial set of problems? First, nGenius packet flow switches were deployed in each data center to distribute packet traffic from key network areas to NETSCOUT data sources as well as other downstream monitoring tools. Next, several InfiniStreamNG (ISNG) appliances were installed throughout the network and data center environments. All this data needed to be managed and analyzed, which called for NETSCOUT’s nGeniusONE solution. Finally, the medical center needed to get its solution up and running as soon as possible, so it leveraged the nGenius Visibility as a Service (nVaaS) offering, relying on a dedicated NETSCOUT subject matter expert for guidance in configuring the solution set and troubleshooting any issues that arose throughout the process.
Deploying a Healthcare Cybersecurity Solution with the Same Architecture
The story doesn’t stop there, because NETSCOUT was able to help solve another problem for this medical center shortly after: cybersecurity. The center’s current NetFlow-based security solution was nearing the end of its lifetime, and upgrading to the latest from the current vendor would require significant investment in several areas, including the architecture that supports the security solution. The center’s NetOps team approached its SecOps team about using packet-based data for security and network detection and response (NDR) as opposed to the current NetFlow-based solution. This brought the center back to NETSCOUT.
After walking through some of NETSCOUT’s capabilities, the SecOps team not only saw the advantages of using packet data, but trusted that it could be done at scale. Included in these advantages was the ability to identify IP addresses using a particular protocol, more detailed data with fewer gaps, and granularity into the finest details of network packet data. The center was also able to leverage its existing NETSCOUT architecture of ISNG appliances to source the necessary data for this cybersecurity solution, reducing the upfront investment required to facilitate it.
NETSCOUT utilized the Omnis Cyber Intelligence (OCI) NDR solution as the backbone of this network security deployment. OCI allowed the medical center to leverage its existing Visibility Without Borders platform instrumentation and tailor it for security users. The center also expanded the storage capabilities of its ISNG appliances to ensure packet retention that meets the needs of security incident response. Next, it utilized Omnis Cyber Adaptors, which transfer and translate data from ISNG appliances to OCI. Finally, it leveraged its existing relationship with the VaaS team to get this security solution up and running in short order, expediting time to ROI.
Visibility Without Borders Provides the Ultimate Value
NETSCOUT’s Visibility Without Borders platform is helping the medical center address several issues that could otherwise impact the swift, safe delivery of patient care. It replaced the outdated security solution with NETSCOUT Omnis Security, benefiting the medical center by reducing tool sprawl—which, in turn, reduces costs and management complexity for the IT teams. It also allowed the center to significantly shorten training time on the platform, because both solutions leverage the same network packet data to provide the necessary user data. This common data set also brought the NetOps and SecOps teams closer together, creating more efficient processes for troubleshooting and security response.
The most important benefit this platform brought the medical center was improved reliability, responsiveness, end-user experience, and security, which translated to improved patient experience. This was the ultimate value of the investment, because it made difficult times for patients that much smoother, allowing patients to focus on their care instead of on frustrations with application performance and experience. By enabling its healthcare providers to focus on treatments and diagnoses, the center can give its patients the highest-quality care possible.