Even as the cable industry’s schedule of internal events contracts into two spring and fall slots, the number of external events that industry leaders should attend expands.

Making their way down to the annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference and exhibition in Orlando in late February, for instance, were reps from several MSOs who have included this industry the list of verticals that they aim to serve.

Those MSOs that have a track record in business services know this vertical already. The point of this mission was, however, to remind the IT medical community that the cable industry, as the CTAM slogan has it, "means business."

"Most medical IT professionals we spoke with at HIMSS were not aware that MSOs offer digital phone services and PRI, and they appeared to be very interested in learning more about this alternative to higher-priced Centrex lines they traditionally utilized," said Keith Grunberg, Charter Business sales engineer.

Joining Grunberg at a CTAM-sponsored booth on the HIMSS show floor were colleagues from Charter Business, Cablevision Data Solutions and Cox Business Services. Reps from Time Warner Cable manned a separate booth.

By the metrics of this show, the medical IT business appears to be booming. In a statement, HIMSS President and CEO Stephen Lieber called the event "record-breaking, with more than 28,400 attendees and 900 exhibiting companies."

The rationale for cable technologists to attend is clear enough. Not only is healthcare a growth industry, but it also plays to cable’s strengths. "The medical field has an ever-growing amount of technology-driven functions," Grunberg said.

"The biggest factor is the picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), which transport images so detailed that they cannot be compressed while being transported," Grunberg said. Gigabit Ethernet One related but non-cable specific press release from BridgeWave Communications announced that New York’s Hudson Valley-based River Radiology had deployed its AR60 Gigabit wireless system to extend its high-speed data network, which carries PACS files.

The deployment followed River Radiology’s decision to expand its magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capabilities to patients at Benedictine Hospital, less than one mile away, and its resulting need for a secure network link between the two imaging centers.

Network availability and low latency over the link also enabled the addition of VoIP services between the two sites.

From Grunberg’s perspective, cable operators can leverage such trends. "Many medical centers and clinics are purchasing these (imaging) systems to expedite the process of quality health care, and physicians and medical technicians appreciate the speed and accuracy this affords in caring for patient," he said.

"Many medical facilities are upgrading their systems to Gigabit Ethernet standards, which offers cable’s commercial services a great opportunity to assist with everyday business needs. Faster transport on the Metro Ethernet platform with capability to offer quality and class of service certainly appeals to their needs," he said.

– Jonathan Tombes

The Daily

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