Rapid growth in connected devices and desire for automation lead to network transformation.
A national health leader that offers northern Nevada residents much-needed health and medical services, including the only Level II Trauma Center to serve over one million people across 100,000 square miles.
Location: Reno, Nevada
Renown Health is northern Nevada's largest and most comprehensive healthcare provider and the only locally owned, not-for-profit system in the region.
Healthcare is no easy task in Nevada. The state has two major cities—Reno in the north, Las Vegas in the south, and a large rural population in between. Renown Health has more than 6500 employees stretched across more than 70 sites, delivering services to more than 74,000 Nevadans every month.
Telemedicine, collaborative workflows, and an appetite for innovation are crucial to Renown Health's effectiveness. Digital touchpoints enable the extension of community health programs that connect rural patients with medical specialists via video sessions.
"We have community nurses visiting patients and then linking in a doctor back at the hospital, via video," says Dustin Metteer, senior network engineer, Renown Health. "It's working really well. The patient is saving time and travel costs, and we are maintaining our community reach. We've recently set up a similar service for the Department of Corrections facilities."
Medical appointments are scheduled more quickly without the logistics requirements for prisoner security and transportation.
A key to Renown Health's continued success is its commitment to ongoing digital transformation. The group wants to simplify mobile working, allow secure access to the latest patient data, and enable healthcare teams to collaborate. At its major sites, it wants to be able to use the latest in healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) and connected medical devices. A robust, consistent network across all Renown Health operations is critical.
"The number of connections to the network has skyrocketed in recent years," explains Metteer. "In 2016 we had about 2000 devices on the wireless network; today, we're registering some 14,000. And in that time, our network team has decreased from six people to three."
For Metteer, the challenge is to maintain the momentum of transforming infrastructure while streamlining the resources needed to manage an increasingly large environment, an always-on network, and a demanding user base.
"In healthcare, given the range of critical applications connected to the network, you cannot tolerate a moment of downtime," he says.
“Cisco DNA Center is like having a Network Operations Center technician 24/7. Essentially, it's like an entire NOC-in-a-box in one small appliance.”Dustin Metteer, Senior Network Engineer
The Renown Health network is managed and maintained using Cisco DNA Center. It is the key to driving AI-based automation, strengthening security, and establishing a singular view of network activity. It enables a team of three to manage a consistent network across 70 locations, 1400 access points, and 48,000 ports.
"Cisco DNA Center is like having a Network Operations Center technician 24/7. Essentially, it's a NOC-in-a-box," Metteer explains. Alerts go to various teams when there's a problem, and Level 2 engineers get the information they need to troubleshoot. "And suddenly," he says, "we have the information we need and can transition from reactive to proactive support."
Cisco DNA Center is also key to the planning and rollout of Renown Health's wireless upgrade. Renown Health had been a longtime user of Cisco Aironet access points, but the dramatic rise in users and devices simply demanded an upgrade.
"Admittedly, we were initially hesitant around Wi-Fi 6. Healthcare is not traditionally an early adopter of bleeding-edge technology," says Metteer. "Cisco explained to us that we'd have their full support."
With the future in mind, Renown Health has committed to Wi-Fi 6, with Cisco Catalyst 9120 and 9130 Access Points and Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series Wireless Controllers. An upgrade to Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches then drives everything from the edge to the core. Together, the Catalyst wired and wireless solutions help the business to accelerate the adoption of new digital touchpoints, from surgical robots to asset tracking.
"We now have a bunch of 40 [gigabit] uplinks in our Catalyst switches, and we're looking at 100 and 200 [gigabit]. This gives us a dramatic increase in capacity at a time when nearly everyone coming to our sites wants to connect three devices to the network," he explains.
The impact of Cisco DNA Center has been nothing short of transformational. "We can simply log into Cisco DNA Center and it takes us five minutes to do what used to take hours," Metteer explains.
Cisco DNA Center gives Renown Health industry-leading visibility and control with AI capabilities that help reduce configuration times, improve troubleshooting, and decrease operational complexities. "The level of detail we're able to see now in a network map is incredible," he adds.
Managing the network with Cisco DNA Center has slashed the time and effort needed to run the network and perform upgrades. Upgrades are now timed to apply to specific network users or segments with no interruption in service, which is critical in a healthcare setting. "With DNA Center automation tools, I set up 20 locations in a night, all from my desk. Taking a week's worth of work and doing it after hours in a single night is a dream come true," says Metteer.
With the help of Cisco DNA Center, average network troubleshooting time has gone from four hours to 10 to 15 minutes—a 94 percent reduction in time spent. Time saved is now spent on more important IT priorities. In addition, the IT team is typically 20 minutes ahead of the help desk. Even before a ticket is submitted, the team is proactively troubleshooting and speeding the time to resolution.
The time savings are not just restricted to the network team. An integration with Stanley Healthcare and Cisco Spaces enables Renown Health to automatically monitor temperature settings for blood and medicine storage and refrigeration. Manual temperature validation transitions to automatic alerts should temperatures fall outside requirements. It means that nurses are now more productive, and the risk to precious blood and medicine inventory is reduced.
"Previously this was a manual job, with a nurse going around hourly checking and documenting each refrigeration unit and storage area," Metteer points out. "Now, sensor data is fed to a dashboard view. The time saving is equivalent to one full-time traveling nurse."
Cisco Spaces, he adds, is an example of the ideal use of technology in the service of human healthcare, and it is becoming an increasingly significant part of Renown Health's operations. Cisco Spaces allows teams to track the movement of people and things. This includes a range of medical devices, from gurneys and IV pumps to Apple iPhones that caregivers carry. Smart Workspaces from Cisco Spaces helps patients navigate to appointments.
Renown Health bought hundreds of Apple iPads for patients, recognizing that a comfortable patient is a better patient. "A patient can now happily stream a movie rather than looking at an IV in his arm," says Metteer.
The iPhones that caregivers use and iPads that patients rely on for entertainment and communication all communicate reliably with the Cisco Network. This is a result of tight collaboration between Cisco and Apple that optimizes connectivity, prioritizes latency sensitive apps with Fastlane+, and even provides Renown with device level analytics to streamline troubleshooting efforts.
The upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, he says, has tripled the network speed while adding the headroom to accommodate more devices.
"Instead of reacting to situations, we're proactive," he says. "We can send the support guys to the exact place to fix a specific problem. I cannot believe the level of detail we get from Cisco DNA Center. Anything is searchable. Cisco DNA Center is catching things that our other monitoring tools are missing."
"If you asked me five years ago, I would have said that there was no way a team of three could run a network of this size."