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Tahoe Forest Health Selects Aruba Over Cisco for Healthcare Network

Tahoe Forest Health System has decided to replace its current Cisco network with an Aruba mobile-first healthcare network for its two critical access hospitals and six specialty clinics.

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By Fred Donovan

- Tahoe Forest Health System has decided to replace its current Cisco network with an Aruba mobile-first healthcare network for its two critical access hospitals and six specialty clinics.

Tahoe Forest expects to save between $750,000 and $1 million in operational expenses during the next five years and improve network performance and IT management as a result of the change.

The health system manages Incline Village Community Hospital in Nevada, Tahoe Forest Hospital in California, and six specialty clinics. One of the clinics, Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center, provides cancer treatment in a rural setting in partnership with University of California Davis.

“We work with UC Davis very closely with our cancer treatment center, and we do internships,” Tahoe Forest Health System Chief Information and Innovation Officer Jake Dorst explained. “Their medical students can come up and experience what rural medicine is and see if that's an interest to them, once they've graduated. We also do research in areas of rural medicine with UC Davis,” Dorst told HITInfrastructure.com.

A few years ago, Tahoe Forest Health System was going through an upgrade of its Cisco network. Dorst thought that the upgrade was expensive and the equipment as overengineered for his system’s needs.

“I really started looking at what are my options. What's out there for us to look at? Frankly, we were just getting the feeling that we were not a very big account for Cisco. So, we didn't feel like we were getting a lot of attention,” he said.

Dorst said he considered HPE’s Aruba Networks, Juniper Networks, and Arista Networks as alternative vendors to Cisco. 

“We looked at the Gartner reports and saw Aruba was beating Cisco in all six networking categories. We talked to several of the Aruba folks; we felt comfortable that they would be able to replace what we had with Cisco, and we felt comfortable with the security and the scalability,” Dorst said.

“This was a large spend so I knew I was going to have to defend this decision with the board. I wanted to have a reputable company that I could point to industry-leading research showing that they were competing with what we were replacing,” he added.

Working with Nashville-based WrightCore, Tahoe Forest deployed Aruba access points and mobility controllers, Aruba access switches, AirWave for network management, and ClearPass for wireless and wired network access control. Also, Aruba OS 8’s AI-powered AirMatch feature saved time and effort by adjusting the network automatically.

“Aruba’s ClearPass is just a much easier to use than Cisco’s Identity Services Engine. I've got a very good networking team right now, but I have to plan for the future …. I have to plan for ease of use of the systems and administration,” Dorst said.

In addition, Aruba simplified IT management for Tahoe by “getting everything as close to one single pane of glass as you can and also having cross-functionality with IT management. I have a networking team a server team. With the Cisco system, they didn't really cross. I think with the accessible Aruba GUIs [graphical user interfaces] and the software setup, I can cross-train a lot easier than I could before,” Dorst related.

The Aruba network also keeps Incline Village tied into Tahoe Forest’s Epic electronic health record (EHR) system so doctors can access patient records and view X-ray, CT, and MRI imaging performed at the main campus.

The staff at Tahoe Forest’s facilities use a mixture of corporate-issued and personal devices as well as some mobile applications like Haiku and Canto. In addition, Dorst noted that the number of devices on the guest network has been steadily growing, and he expects to see a continued increase in usage amongst patients, family members, and visitors.

“There seem to be a lot of folks out there who are looking for network alternatives. We're pleased with our decision to go with Aruba. It's just a matter of taking the leap,” Dorst concluded.


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