Traffic tools enable St. Luke’s to find network bottlenecks

When St. Luke’s University Health Network migrated to a new data center in 2011, it also started implementing technology from security vendor Savvius to improve the troubleshooting of its information systems.

Before using those capabilities, its hospitals didn’t know if a network or information system was having trouble until it manifested with slow response times, typically indicated by phone calls from users to the information technology department for the system, based in Bethlehem, Pa., and operating seven hospitals and a network of 300 physicians.

It was a reactive system, and as the delivery system grew to have more than 15,000 medical devices—and that number then doubled over time with the proliferation of smartphones—reacting to trouble when it occurred was no longer acceptable.

St. Luke’s

Radiologists in particular were not pleased when the transferring of diagnostic images was slow, which affects the number of images that can be read, recalls Bryan Smith, senior network engineer. But the Savvius technology provides continuous real-time troubleshooting to identify emerging problems before they become critical.

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The technology gives a visualization of what is occurring on a particular network, Smith says. “You can see the traffic on the road and the types of cars on the road,” he says. Savvius runs algorithms to identify potential issues, he adds.

No longer are personnel at St. Luke’s traveling between locations to acquire “packet data,” which is performance content that previously was collected and then examined. Think of packet data as a UPS truck and inside is the payload, Smith explains. “The operational efficiency to not have to drive to locations was the most important finding. The time saved is amazing.”

The technology is straightforward, not overly complex and appropriate for hospitals of all sizes including physician networks, and the cost is reasonable, according to Smith.

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