Best Internet Connectivity Options for Popup Health Clinics and COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Centers

It appears that we have finally rounded the corner in our year-long fight against the devastating COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Vaccines are (slowly) being distributed all over the world, and with a little luck, we may be back to (something resembling) normality later this year. Unfortunately, there will still be a great deal of pain before that happens, as the pandemic continues to rage, until most of us are vaccinated.

Vaccinating several hundred million Americans has already proven to be a challenging undertaking, while vaccinating several billion Earthlings seems almost unthinkable. City-dwellers and financially well off populations will of course be the first to be vaccinated and in general should fare pretty well. For U.S. rural populations, third-world countries, and impoverished populations, the daunting task of ensuring that the majority of human beings get vaccinated as soon as possible is an even bigger challenge. Lack of nearby facilities, general infrastructure, and broadband connectivity are some of the major issues to contend with. (For some background on this topic, please see our blog from last year, “Telehealth and Telemedicine – Critical Need for Rural Populations.”)

Fortunately, we are seeing a major effort to address the massive logistical issue of testing and vaccinating so many people as quickly as possible. We’ve seen some very creative solutions for many of these critically-needed resources, such as using sports stadiums or re-purposed drive-through auto shops to use as mass testing and/or vaccination sites. Also, several national pharmacy chains are already starting to perform coronavirus vaccinations. These are certainly welcomed developments that will help us defeat the virus as soon as possible.

But other critical resources are mobile and/or temporary health clinics and testing/vaccination centers. These typically include mobile health vans and popup tents erected in large parking lots or other open areas, or even fields. These locations are hugely important to the effort since they are so flexible and can be repositioned quickly and deployed to areas with the most critical needs. Unfortunately, access to quality, highly reliable broadband internet is often difficult or impossible for some of these remote sites. Both mobile health vans and popup clinics usually don’t have easy access to wired internet lines, and this is a major obstacle in realizing the full infrastructure needed to provide safe and timely healthcare along with COVID-19 testing and vaccination.

The ONC (The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) states:

Telehealth technical infrastructure requirements will vary depending on what type of telehealth services your organization plans to offer, but nearly all telehealth programs require:

  • Access to broadband internet. You need sufficient bandwidth to transmit audio and video data. As a rural health care organization, you may have difficulty connecting to or obtaining affordable and reliable broadband service.
  • Imaging technology or peripherals. These devices are the backbone of telehealth. They allow rural health organizations to see and hear patients even when they are miles apart. Digital stethoscopes, for instance, can transmit heart and lung sounds to remote providers.
  • Access to technical support staff. Technical support staff members can help answer questions about telehealth programs. To help with efficiency, technical support staff may be shared across collaborating organizations.
  • Staff training. You will need to train your staff to use telehealth technology, which may take time. You should consider whether workflow changes may be required and train accordingly.

And Morgan Waller, Director of Telemedicine at Children’s Mercy, Kansas City puts it more bluntly:

“Telehealth connections are not like the connections needed for traditional business conferences where you can tolerate some poor quality and muddle through it. In healthcare, a poor quality connection is a total deal breaker.”

Broadband Bonding & SD-WAN Solutions Provides Enterprise-Grade Broadband Access Anywhere

So, mobile and temporary clinics start off way behind the curve due to lack of readily available and highly reliable broadband internet. Running an entire healthcare van or ambulance or entire clinic off of a single cellular modem is a terrible solution, but oftentimes it’s the only solution available. And having a second (or multiple) cellular modem(s) in operation helps the situation, but each and every internet session must still rely on a single link for communication.

A great solution is using SD-WAN with broadband bonding to intelligently aggregate multiple cellular cards (and wired lines, if available) from the same or different ISPs resulting in a single high-bandwidth, high-reliability, highly optimized broadband pipe.

And Mushroom Networks has been doing this for years.

Mission-critical healthcare applications rely on high-performance Internet connectivity. Mobile and temporary clinics empower their caregivers using our 3G,4G, LTE, 5G and Satellite Broadband Bonding.

For specialized applications such as live video streaming from a mobile clinic to a caregiver, or access to cloud-based electronic health records, 3G/4G/LTE/5G bonding appliances offer a unique way to provide Internet connectivity on the go. Mushroom Networks’ Portabella is a cellular bonding device that can take multiple cellular SIM cards from any carrier and combine them into a fast and robust Internet connection that is optimized for various application classes, including live video feed from a mobile clinic connecting the patient to the doctor at a hospital.

SD-WAN virtual or physical appliances are ideal for taking over the burden of network management for healthcare locations, mobile or temporary clinics:

  • Zero-touch installation enables drop shipments to locations (fixed or mobile clinics) and allows them to connect seamlessly to the head office network and the data centers in a matter of minutes.
  • Application Optimization with Broadband Bonding enables application-aware tunnels that connect branch clinic networks to the data center and other clinics while shielding the application from network problems.
  • Centralized Monitoring Portal provides a single pane dashboard for all registered devices and enables remote access to each device if needed. Various telemetry and network statistics are stored in the Monitoring Portal for IT managers to have a comprehensive and actionable view of their network at their fingertips.
  • Additional Features include elastic/static IP, automatic failover, advanced routing, firewalling, traffic shaping, layer 7 filtering, quality of service, bandwidth reservations and many more.

We’ve Got Enough Problems Fighting COVID-19. Internet Connectivity Shouldn’t be One of Them

Ridding the world of COVID-19 and any variants is still a massive global problem that will require a long-term, dedicated effort. Mobile clinics and pop-up testing and vaccination centers will be an important resource to leverage. Using an SD-WAN solution with WAN aggregation, such as Mushroom Networks’ Portabella device, allows for tremendous flexibility, convenience, and reliability for the most demanding health-related sites. Want to set up a vaccination tent in the middle of a remote, open field? No problem – as long as there are cellular connections available, the Mushroom Networks’ device will instantly and seamlessly provide the highest quality broadband connection possible.

 

Rob Stone, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of Broadband Bonding appliances that put your networks on auto-pilot. Application flows are intelligently routed around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss. Network problems are solved even before you can notice.

https://www.mushroomnetworks.com

 

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