Reliable, high-performing hospital Wi-Fi networks are now mission critical. In medical centers, Wi-Fi networks are deployed to support:
Electronic Health Records (EMR)
Wireless Medical Devices
Computers on Wheels
Newborn and Patient Location Tracking
Wi-Fi networks are often asked to provide reliable connectivity to support life-critical applications which affect patient care. Interference, poor performing access points and an influx of doctor-owned devices along with constant changes in the RF environment, make it difficult to prevent or troubleshoot Wi-Fi problems.
Doctors, nurses and clinicians grow frustrated when they experience network delays and slow throughput because it hampers their productivity and their ability to serve patients. IT professionals routinely react to these complaints and waste both time and money chasing down issues.
Akron Children’s Hospital Boosts WLAN Performance, Patient Care
Akron Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital in Northeast Ohio, is expanding their use of Wi-Fi in the hospital by implementing new applications, supporting new devices and larger user populations. Tom Ogg, the CIO at Akron Children’s Hospital was tasked with the mission to deploy their electronic medical records system (EPIC). Hospital operations included 359 beds, 900 Cisco wireless access points with over 800 wireless client device connections running critical hospital wireless applications and terminals such as IV pumps, VoIP voice call badges, Carts on Wheels, laptops, tablets, access to electronic medical record and billing systems, and guest networks. The number of medical Wi-Fi devices used for patient care purposes was expected to triple within 2 years and continue growing rapidly in the future.
7signal provided its Sapphire™ solution for proactive hospital Wi-Fi performance management, allowing the IT staff to see and understand how the hospital Wi-Fi network was serving their needs and meeting their SLA’s from the user’s per-spective. With this additional capability, Akron Children’s could now improve the hospital Wi-Fi network to better meet requirements for delivering exceptional patient care, as well as support mission critical applications and wireless medical devices. Sapphire was initially deployed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Emergency Department (ED) and one remote clinical facility.
The team from Akron Children’s Hospital implemented corrective actions on these areas to improve network performance and end user experience. The initial optimization phase delivered the following impact:
Throughput increased by up to 110%
Packet losses reduced by 80%
Retransmissions reduced over 50%
End-to-end network delays reduced by 35%
Client’s ability to receive access point beacons increased by 20%
After initial deployed in the NICU, ED and remote clinical locations, and with the upcoming EPIC electronic medical record deployment, it was determined that the improved Wi-Fi network performance implemented in the three areas of the hospital were still insufficient for the planned rapid growth in device count, new applications and traffic volume growth. The decision was made to install Sapphire in all critical clinical areas in the hospital and five remote medical facilities, and upgrade their Wi-Fi network to support the 802.11n standard.
Link to this page to see a description of the essential 7signal Sapphire operational principles from a HIPAA requirements perspective.