Keith Bromley
Sr. Manager, Product Marketing at Ixia

How To Overcome Visibility Blind Spots Created By Health Care Mergers and Acquisitions

January 28, 2019 by Keith Bromley

Over the past several years there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) of health care companies. The second quarter alone of 2018 saw 255 deals announced, making it the 15th consecutive quarter of 200 or more M&A announcements in the health care industry. These M&As are driving hospital consolidation to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

Unfortunately, they are also increasing network management and troubleshooting blind spots. As the two companies merge, the IT systems are two separate, and disparate, islands. To achieve the promised efficiencies, IT needs to share troubleshooting and performance information between the two networks. As long as the two systems continue to be islands, there will be blind spots and decreased efficiency.

From a network visibility and security perspective, there are some easy actions that can be implemented to address these issues. The first question, however, is what is network visibility? Network visibility is about placing components like physical taps, virtual taps, network packet brokers, and special purpose security and monitoring tools into the network at key strategic points.

These network visibility components and techniques can be used to overcome the data sharing challenges stated above. This is because enhanced network visibility gives you the capability you need to:  eliminate blind spots, decrease troubleshooting and monitoring costs, improve operational efficiency, and enhance compliance data.

The following diagram illustrates how these technology components can be inserted into a generic hospital network to address blind spot issues.

Network Visibility for Health care Networks

As the figure illustrates, M&As pose monitoring challenges for health care networks. Here are some of the specific benefits from integrating visibility into your network architecture:

  • Remove on-premises blind spots – First, once the primary network is determined (probably the acquiring company), taps can be added to the secondary network at key points to gain specific information to collect performance information. Then a network packet broker (NPB) can be added at the gateway between the two networks. Relevant taps can be connected to the NPB which then aggregates the data and passes it through one port back to the network operations center (NOC), where data can then be sent to dedicated or communal monitoring tools.
  • Test for performance issues – As the integration of the two systems progresses, proactive monitoring can be used to understand how well (or not) data flows between the two networks and how network performance changes as the two networks are integrated and software updates are introduced.
  • Perform root cause analysis – Once the taps and NPB is in place, monitoring data can be captured and passed on to purpose-built tools like application performance monitoring (APM) and network performance monitoring (NPM) for analysis as to why applications (like EHR) and/or the network is running slow.
  • Reduce costs – Another consideration is to implement a hybrid cloud/on-premises approach where you backhaul monitoring data from the cloud to on-premises NPBs to get a consolidated view and lower costs by reusing existing physical security and monitoring tools. A cloud visibility solution is central to capturing the cloud data and exporting it back to on-premises monitoring tools. This can save thousands of dollars on security and monitoring appliance costs.

In the end, data visibility solutions that are simple to implement and that don’t create more complexity are what will be required to address the issue of network visibility blind spots caused by health care mergers and acquisitions.

If you want more information on this network visibility solutions for health care, try reading the following white paper—Five Health Care Trends That Necessitate Network Monitoring.