Knowledge Center


Spotlight Series – March 2022


­Solving today’s critical network issues while preparing clients for future needs with Mark Johnson:

Healthcare organizations are facing a constantly shifting technological landscape. As a result, IT and networking staff are simply overwhelmed with increasing demands. While certain priorities can be flexible, many critical issues must be handled right away to ensure daily operations continue to run smoothly.

Mark Johnson, one of HSi’s Senior Network Engineers, was deployed at a client site to solve a growing number of critical networking issues. Several weeks into his engagement, Mark was able to use the trust established and his 30 years’ experience to help solve additional infrastructure problems the client was facing. With his help, we’ll explore what an external network engineering consultant can bring to a healthcare organization and how partnering with a consultant, like Mark, can benefit your hospital or health system.

Q:  Can you explain some of what you do as a healthcare network engineer?

A:  There are several areas in which a network engineer is needed, especially in healthcare. As a network engineering consultant, I help clients with networking systems, storage, compliance with HIPPA and PCI compliance, security, documentation, as well as implementing the solutions chosen by the client.

Currently, we are seeing an increase in AI and Machine Learning solutions being added into hospitals usable by the Help Desk and lower-level engineers.  Of course, there is also a growing focus on establishing or optimizing security, monitoring, immutable back-ups, and disaster recovery / business continuity in case of natural disasters or breakdown of communications systems or security attack.  With these in mind, as an engineer and consultant, I cannot stress enough the importance of documentation.

Q:  What do you see as the biggest difference between the services of a network engineer and those of a network engineering consultant? 

A:  There is a significant difference between an engineer and a consultant. Engineers are sent to go “do” a task and “make this happen.” Consultants look further, identifying the business needs and assessing an organization’s current infrastructure to meet those needs, then helping the client fill the gaps.

There is a great need to build trust as a consultant.  I’m intentional about setting boundaries up front – I am there to make the client successful and work myself out of a job.  I make it clear I will not sell them anything or look to expand my contract.  We have other divisions [within HSi] to help them with procurement of hardware or services; I will recommend and advise them on the best solutions to meet their needs.  My goal is to walk with them down the path instead of just giving them answers.  It is important to help them move beyond a place of dependency and reliance and into a place where they trust themselves to make the best choices for their needs.

Q:  Can you share an example of how the value of a client investing in your services as a Network Engineering Consultant has returned to them?

A:  A great example would be my work with a client based in a fairly rural area.  They had an infrastructure in place that was a functional solution, however, after evaluation, was not the right solution for their organizational needs. They were set to refresh the system but after exploring the options, I was able to recommend alternatives to the solution they had initially selected.  Taking this extra step to analyze their needs instead of jumping into the installation process ended up saving them up to 70% in capital expenditures.  We were also able to significantly increase their operational efficiency helping them become almost 90% more efficient!

This is a major difference HSi brings to the table – a commitment to not just implement a technology, but to make sure it is the right technology for the client.  They may have a good solution, but if it is designed for a health system with hundreds or thousands of hospitals and clinics, it may not be the one needed for a client with one medium-sized hospital and a handful of clinics. That first option is not wrong, it just is not the right fit for them.  We are looking to help hospitals fill gaps with proper solutions and enable the organization to maintain those solutions with the personnel and skill sets available to them or augment them when appropriate.

Q:  Let’s close by looking at what drew you to bring your technical expertise to the healthcare realm.

A:  I have been in IT for 33 years, starting as a programmer and building my focus in networking and security for business needs and analysis.  I have worked with companies all over the globe in several unique geographical locations with needs ranging from those of small rural organizations to a few DOD roles.  I enjoy bringing my experience and diverse knowledge into healthcare, knowing I will never be a doctor or nurse, but can still help patients and the organizations be more efficient and effective.

Like anything, finding the right resource with the right skillset is critical to bring maximum effectiveness to your organization.  If you are looking to have an objective, experienced healthcare networking engineering consultant like Mark help review your organization and its network infrastructure capabilities to maximize its effectiveness, HSi is here to help. Please reach out to our team at hsi@hsi-corp.com

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