If you have visited a hospital, clinic, or even a doctor’s office lately, you readily see that Wi-Fi technology has transformed how today’s healthcare is delivered. It allows caregivers to roam throughout hospitals and clinics while providing real-time data to help them do their job better. It has also led to the introduction of an abundance of Wi-Fi-enabled diagnostic devices, contributing to more fluid communications and improved clinical outcomes.
The attraction of a facilitated data flow, as well as the need to comply with government mandates, have smaller and midsized hospitals scrambling to update and extend their Wi-Fi systems. Older wireless solutions may not have the coverage required to handle the critical applications demanded of these networks today. When the network carries real-time updates from wireless medical devices, a glitch in the system could have life or death consequences. These applications require dependable, high-performance Wi-Fi solutions.
Four challenges the right Wi-Fi network can overcome
Connecting medical devices to EHR systems greatly reduces the time it takes to record a patient’s vital signs. But it also increases the amount of data flowing through the system as well as introduces new security risks. Blood pressure cuffs, infusion pumps, and heart monitors all send data that needs to be read and acted on. If the Wi-Fi system handling the information isn’t reliable or if a caregiver is in a spot where he can’t receive information on his tablet, something important could be missed, such as important information on potential drug interactions. The key to making it all work is having a simple, secure and reliable infrastructure - one that’s affordable and can grow as new devices are introduced.
Here are four important issues administrators face with these critical wireless infrastructures and how choosing the right Wi-Fi network equipment is key to overcoming these challenges.
Bandwidth can be an issue as a growing number of wireless-enabled biomedical devices compete with smartphones and tablets for network access. With so many critical communications coming from lab tests and biomedical devices being delivered across the WLAN (wireless local area network), performance is crucial. The wireless LAN needs to deliver information at wired-line speeds for real-time updates to nurses’ stations, alerting them to changes in a patient’s status.
The ability to roam seamlessly is a must. Everyone knows that healthcare providers are on their feet all day. Information needs to travel with them no matter where they go. Masonry, concrete and other building materials can interfere with radio frequency (RF) signals, sometimes affecting one’s ability to connect. But when healthcare providers rely upon information access, dead zones just aren’t acceptable.
Ease of onboarding
It’s not just network’s ability to transmit information that’s important; it’s also the ease with which users can access the information they need. With a diversity of devices requiring access, interoperability is key to ensuring that devices aren’t prevented from connecting to the WLAN. Automatic onboarding according to role-based access allows caregivers to roam, accessing lab tests and patient vitals with their tablets. At the same time, it supplies incoming patients and their families with access to the network for personal purposes such as entertainment and education.
Security and regulatory compliance exacerbate WLAN challenges. Healthcare facilities need to ensure that user-owned devices accessing the network meet HIPAA standards. Wireless LAN products that offer role-based access can help. In addition, firewalls prevent hackers from compromising the network and stealing sensitive patient data.
HPE Just Right IT connects seamlessly and reliably
HPE Just Right IT Aruba wireless networks deliver the performance, reliability, and security needed to support such data-intensive environments. They offer wireless connections at wired speeds, policy-based access services, architectural flexibility with RF visibility and application aware QoS (quality of service). HPE Aruba Instant Access Points are easy to install and can be configured automatically. With an easy-to-use cloud-enabled app, they can be managed from virtually anywhere.
HPE provides small and midsize organizations with purpose-built products designed to address their specific needs with its HPE Just Right IT portfolio of products and services. Engineered to grow along with you, they provide enterprise-grade reliability and security, simply and affordably, just what’s needed for critical networks such as these.
The introduction of digital patient data has had real consequences for many small and midsize providers. Learn more in Michael O’Dwyer’s Pulse of IT article “SMBs in the healthcare industry must innovate to survive”