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Network Requirements for a Dental Practice

Introduction

Computer network allows communication of computers and sharing of resources such as printers. Local Area Network (LAN) is a type of network that connects computers in a small geographical area like a building. The connection of computers facilitates inter-departmental communications that boost services offered to customers. In larger institutions, Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) connects computers between various offices located within a City.

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Requirements for the network solution

Before the dental office expanded through a merger, a LAN was able to cater for inter-departmental communication within the facility. However, with the merger, LAN cannot be able to address the communication requirements of the facility. The merger entity will require a more powerful network that will be able to manage the communication requirements of the resultant facility. The merger of the dental office with another dental practice that is operating in other parts within the city brings a communication challenge for the dental facility. However, communication is very essential in ensuring quality services, and particularly in a healthcare setting. Therefore, the dental facility will adopt a MAN to facilitate communication across all the facility offices, as well as communications between all stakeholders involved. A MAN will help to interconnect the LAN networks that exist in the five offices. This will be important, as it will promote communications across the five offices. Through enhanced communication, the facility will intensify the quality of its service provision. The interconnection of the local Area Network will facilitate the connection of the MAN into a Wide Area Network or the internet to enhance communication.

Information Transmitted over the Network

The adoption of the MAN will be important in managing important patients’ information. For example, the receptionist will be able to update the mobile dentists on when they are supposed to visit their patients for dental checkups. In addition, the network will facilitate the communication of the patients and their dentists. For example, a home-based patient can send an email to the dentist for inquiry purposes. In addition, the dentist assistants can use the chats or emails to contact the dentist and inquire about some details that are missing in the patients’ prescription. Similarly, the dentists can be able to follow patients’ lab results and prescribe accordingly in wherever they are within the facility MAN. Therefore, the MAN helps in enhancing service efficiency and effectiveness. In order to ensure confidentiality and security of the aforementioned information transmitted, the WAN should be fitted with appropriate security systems that will encrypt the transmitted information, as well as preventing hackers from eavesdropping (Parker & Coiera, 2000). Securing the network will be important in ensuring that the transmitted data is not hacked and distorted. For example, if the management does not secure its MAN accordingly, some competing dental facilities can use unethical methods such as hack and distort patients’ prescriptions, which can be very detrimental (Waegemann & Tessier, 2002).

Devices for MAN

Bridges and Routers are the devices that are used for MAN connection. Bridges are effective for linking two physically and logically independent networks. There are two types of bridges: those that operate at Medium Access Control, which is a sub-layer of the Data Link Layer. The other one works at Logical Link Control sub-layer. On the other hand, routers are preferred than bridges for MAN connectivity. Routers are more powerful and operate at the Network layer of the OSI model. In order to allow security of the information relayed over the network, the MAN will require being fitted with appropriate security systems for security purposes (Module 1,2012). The facility should consider implementing a Group Encrypted Transport VPN security system, which provides a standard-based IPSec security model (White, 2010).

Metropolitan Area Network Diagram for the Dental Facility

The dental facility should implement a MAN to facilitate communication across its offices, as well as with its clients. Figure 1 below shows the MAN topology for the dental facility.

Dental Facility Metropolitan Area Network.
Figure 1 Dental Facility Metropolitan Area Network.

Benefits of Metropolitan Area Network

Adoption of a MAN will assist in minimizing the extensive mobility within the dental facility as the workers move around in accessing physically dispersed people, knowledge and shared resources. For instance, when a patient is to have a dental x-ray or a lab test, lab and x-ray technicians send the x-ray or lab results directly to the physicians. A Metropolitan Area Network ensures an intensive communication process across all interconnected groups. Therefore, the adoption of the MAN will greatly boost communication within the five dental offices present. Thus, dentists will be in a position to consult from each other for proper clarifications. Guarantee for appropriate clarification is possible through the presence of electronic communications that accompany MAN such as email and chats. These forms of communications are more preferred in a hospital setting in order to avoid disruptions that accompany telephone or mobile communications. Telephone communications should only be limited to issues requiring emergency attention. In addition, the implementation of the MAN will facilitate dentist-patient communications because patients can send their dentists an email for any clarification or inquiry. Similarly, the MAN will facilitate the communications between the dentists’ assistance and the dentists in case of any clarification or inquiry (Preece, 2002).

Risk and Mitigation

The connectivity of the MAN to the Wide Area Network and the internet will be a great security threat to the dental facility network. Connecting a network to the internet can expose the network to hackers, if the securing of the system is weak. Failure to secure the dental facility network appropriately will expose the network to hackers who are capable of illegally accessing patients’ records and distorting them. Similarly, some malicious workers can exchange patients’ lab/x-ray reports which can lead greatly affect the patients health. Similarly, hackers have the potential for eavesdropping conversations on transit, which can they can intercept and breakdown communications or change the content. In order to avoid such incidences, the management of the dental facility should make sure that it has its system is well secure to avoid unauthorized access. Securing its network appropriately will enhance the security of the information transmitted over it. One method of securing the network is by installing software that encrypts all information transmitted over the network. In addition, the network should be fitted with a Group Encrypted Transport VPN security system, which provides a standard-based IPSec security model. Through this process, the facility will enhance its delivery in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and security (Cisco, 2012).

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In conclusion: computer networks are important in enhancing communications between departments, organizations, as well as between all the stakeholders transacting businesses. Securing computer networks is essential to protect the information transmitted over the networks from unauthorized access. Thus, the dental facility will require adopting a MAN to enhance its communications. It should make sure that it has secured its network accordingly to safeguard information transmitted over the network from unauthorized access.

Reference List

Cisco. (2012). Cisco Group Encrypted Transport VPN. Web.

Module 1 (2012).History, Concepts, and Terminology.

Parker, J. & Coiera, E. (2000). Improving Clinical Communication: A review Psychology. Journal of JAMIA. 7, 4, 453-461.

Preece, J. (2002). Interaction Design: Beyond Human Computer Interaction. New York: Prentice Hall.

Waegemann, C. P. & Tessier, C. (2002). Documentation Goes Wireless: A Look at Mobile Healthcare Computing Devices. Journal of AHIMA, 73, 8, 36-39.

White, C. (2010). Data Communications and Computer Networks: A Business User’s Approach. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

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