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Why Organizations Require WiFi Upgrades for Healthcare IoT

The healthcare IoT can't be supported by legacy WiFi networks that don't have the capacity or the speed to help clinicians successfully treat patients.

healthcare IoT depends on WiFi

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Lorien Health Services needed an advanced WiFi network to increase connection reliability and support its healthcare IoT initiative.

Lorien adopted Aruba Mobile First Network to increase WiFi speed and connect critical healthcare Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications to improve patient care.

The new wireless solution will support Lorien’s 14 locations as they prepare to introduce more IoT devices to their infrastructure to help clinicians become more mobile and increase workflow.

Lorien’s legacy wireless network wasn’t performing well enough, which prevented clinicians from treating patients effectively with digital tools. Many of Lorien’s healthcare applications require web-based cloud access that its legacy system was struggling to support.

The organization’s nurse call system was also struggling because the legacy WiFi system kept dropping connections. Patients would hit their call buttons but the nurses weren’t always alerted, putting patients in danger.

The Lorien legacy network also prevented it from deploying the IoT devices it wanted to deploy, such as EHG monitors and HVAC systems.

The lack of reliable connectivity was frustrating both clinicians and patients as their connected medical devices and applications were not working as expected.

“Our caregivers have more important things to worry about than the WiFi network,” Lorien Health Services Network Engineer Michael Bowman said in a statement. “We finally have a reliable, always-on network, so our staff’s time is spent helping patients and residents, not trying to get connected to the network. Our IT staff can also focus on other tasks now that they don’t have to spend time troubleshooting network issues.”

Lorien needed a WLAN solution that would deliver constant mobile access and eliminate the dropped signals that were putting patients in danger. Increased speeds were also a large factor in the search.

The organization also wanted to choose a solution that gave IT administrators more visibility and control over the network so it would be easier to manage and be more secure.

Lorien settled on Aruba Networks and deployed 400 Aruba 802.11ac 300 Series 802.11ac Access Points, along with Aruba Mobility Controllers and AirWave Network Management. The new WLAN solution improved WiFi speeds.

Older buildings on campus with a history of signaling issues also experienced dramatic improvements in connectivity.

Lorien is leveraging its new wireless network by using laptops on mobile carts so clinicians have quick access to internal and external cloud-based clinical applications.

The new network is also the foundation of Lorien’s IoT initiative. The organization has been able to successfully connect security cameras, HVAC, and thermostat systems so they can be automated. Wireless devices also monitor factors patient care, such as EKG status and hygiene.

Healthcare organizations cannot successfully deploy cloud-based IT infrastructure or IoT devices without a reliable wireless network. Reliability and speed are both key as organizations go through digital transformations, relying more and more on technology for patient care, data accessibility, and communication.

“In a healthcare setting, the network has to be extremely reliable because it’s literally life or death,” Aruba Networks Product Marketing Manager Rick Reid told HITInfrastructure.com in a previous interview. “You have to plan coverage capacity, backup systems, and application intelligence just to make sure that things work - and that they work 24/7.”

“You have to build a network for coverage, the devices have to work everywhere,” he continued. “Once a hospital moves to that critical communication method you have to make sure it works in the stairwell and it works in the hallways, and you can’t have any dead spots.”

Healthcare organizations are transforming their IT infrastructures to include more connected medical and IoT devices. This growth requires a reliable wireless network to support the number of devices as well as cover an entire campus so the network can be accessed from anywhere. Legacy solutions hinder progress and do not support IoT devices.