Iowa Health taps World Wide Packets for multi-state medical health network

April 30, 2007
APRIL 30, 2007 Updated 4:45 PM -- The Iowa Health System network, which includes 2,100 miles of fiber, connects major medical facilities and data centers throughout Iowa, western Illinois, and eastern Nebraska.

APRIL 30, 2007 -- Iowa Health System (IHS), Iowa's first and largest integrated healthcare system, has deployed World Wide Packets' (search for World Wide Packets) LightningEdge platform in the recently completed first phase of its privately owned fiber-optic medical health network. According to IHS, the health network is one of the largest in existence, connecting major medical facilities and data centers throughout Iowa, western Illinois, and eastern Nebraska.

IHS says it was looking for a platform that would operate seamlessly within a Layer 2 environment and was capable of managing multi-gigabit data transmissions and bandwidth-intensive applications associated with advanced imaging and diagnostic services without delays or failures. Additionally, it was imperative that IHS have a platform in place that would scale to meet service and geography growth as the network expanded.

In an interview last week, Jim Mormann, vice president and chief information officer of IHS, revealed that his organization looked at nine vendors before narrowing the contenders to Cisco and World Wide Packets. He said IHS chose World Wide Packets for several reasons, with the carrier-grade robustness of its offering and its comparative lack of complexity among the most salient attributes.

The IHS network includes 2,100 miles of fiber. Mormann says that the network initially will support a wide range of data transactions, linking medical facilities to a centralized data center in Des Moines; the data center is connected to a backup facility in Cedar Rapids. The network also will provide imagery transmission to support radiology and cardiology services.

According to Dave Curry, CEO of World Wide Packets, the IHS network will use both the LightningEdge 427 platform as an aggregation switch and the LightningEdge 311 as a customer premises device.

World Wide Packets says the new IHS network will provide several benefits:

  • Standardized electronic health records: With the increased bandwidth enabled by the new network, IHS says it has created the foundation for the development of standardized patient Electronic Health Records.
  • Increased network reliability: IHS has implemented a redundant ring topology. World Wide Packets says that IHS representatives report that the new equipment has responded quickly and effectively to physical failures in this environment, ensuring that the network maintains peak performance in the event of a natural disaster or emergency situation and guaranteeing fast, reliable healthcare at all times.
  • Network expansion: IHS felt it was imperative to put in place a solid infrastructure that can grow to meet new initiatives and the needs of new patients and facilities. The new network will provide the necessary network bandwidth needed to serve IHS's future requirements.
  • Ease of management: According to IHS representatives, World Wide Packets was the only vendor to provide true Ethernet connectivity using industry standards for Layer 2 support without interference to Layer 3 operations. This is imperative to IHS as it manages all Layer 3 activities internally. Additionally, World Wide Packets' Management System provides IHS with greater control over the entire system for streamlined management and service delivery.

    IHS has outsourced managment of the network to Fiber Utilities Group, which is a "consultative organization," in Mormann words.

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