Case Studies: Successful Wi-Fi Troubleshooting in Medical Facilities

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Case Studies: Successful Wi-Fi Troubleshooting in Medical Facilities

These case studies show how small improvements to networks can give patients and caregivers the high-quality wireless internet connection they need

Wireless internet is no longer something that’s an added benefit for hospitals; it’s now part of the infrastructure of a fully functioning care center. Caregivers and patients shouldn’t even have to think about it. Networking should be invisible and high-performing so that the focus can be on the patients, not connectivity.

For many hospitals, that’s just not a reality: over half (55 percent) of hospitals spend up to 500 hours each year on Wi-Fi maintenance alone. That’s the time that could be spent on care, process improvement, other maintenance, and focusing on patient outcomes.

These outcomes are now dependent on aspects of online networks; those that support medical devices, doctor communication, or data transfer. Without a reliable Wi-Fi network in place, patients are exposed to safety issues, as medical devices may fail or important health data could be lost or access delayed.

7SIGNAL solves connectivity problems with Wi-Fi performance management solutions, keeping your devices connected and unaffected by issues. Here are two case studies from the work we’ve done with hospitals to illustrate how our service makes a big impact:

 1.  Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers (CHWC)

Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers (CHWC) is a hospital system comprised of three campuses in northwestern Ohio. CHWC’s wireless network, originally intended to provide wider access to medical records, has been operating for many years with 120 access points distributed among its facilities. But with an increasingly large number of medical devices and network users, it’s difficult to monitor and improve things like data transfer speed, performance, and quality.

As with other hospital systems across the nation, a big challenge for CHWC is assessing end-user experiences with this increased traffic. And it may be more important than ever to focus on user satisfaction. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey gathers perspectives from patients on their hospital care. This is the first national standard for both collecting and publicly reporting this patient survey information, making it crucial for hospitals to focus on the patient experience beyond the internal reporting level.

As such, CHWC’s CIO realized that there was not enough visibility into the quality of the experience end-users were having. The CHWC IT team needed to be able to monitor and assess the network continuously to better understand performance issues. More knowledge about what is going on would allow the team to respond to and resolve problems much more quickly.

Another big challenge was that messages they would receive from users were vague, hearing things like “the Wi-Fi is down” or their connection “dropped.” This made it even more difficult to diagnose problems, much less resolve them in a timely manner.

This is when 7SIGNAL stepped in. Twenty-six Sapphire Eye 2000 sensors were setup throughout the CHWC campuses. These sensors connected to access points and started running both active and passive tests. Active tests focused on emulating the client experience by measuring upload and download throughput, voice quality, and other performance metrics, while passive tests sampled interactions and tracked metrics like connection data rate and retransmissions.

These tests were able to quantify a client’s ability to use the Wi-Fi successfully. The Sapphire Analytics Engine then analyzed the findings in a dashboard as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), allowing the system to easily identify problem areas.

7SIGNAL examined initial performance, suggested improvements, and tracked the effect of changes. The major improvements were:

  • CHWC got the visibility they needed to improve end-user experiences.
  • Retransmission rates for individual users were reduced, which allows for more freed-up airtime to transmit and receive data.
  • The team could proactively manage the entire wireless environment with intuitive dashboards and graphs, automated performance reports, and automatic alerts when KPIs fall below set thresholds.

Slattery was satisfied with the results for his team. “We’re not running blind anymore. Now we can tackle performance issues proactively, before users feel it, not after the fact.”

2.  Canton Mercy Medical Center

Canton Mercy Medical Center, a top-50 cardiology hospital in the nation, is located in Canton, Ohio and has 476 beds. The hospital has used Wi-Fi since 2005 and depends on the network for voice communications, clinical and administrative access, device support, and data capture.

The focus area for improvement was mobile connectivity, as doctors had issues viewing patient data on mobile devices and the voice call quality was poor.

7SIGNAL’s Sapphire Wi-Fi Performance Management System was used to gather performance data and isolate connectivity issues to better address them. The system’s Eye sensors were installed near the emergency department, radiology department, and the operating room, as well as in remote facilities.

The Sapphire system then gathered data that showed immediate improvements in throughput after upgrading a wireless LAN controller. In addition, traffic bottlenecks were identified and the system recommended configuration changes. After changes were implemented, there were big improvements in the mobile device realm, including voice quality, throughput, packet loss, and bandwidth utilization.

Now, the system continues to help address concerns by giving hospital employees access to a dashboard which reports metrics and sends alerts if certain thresholds are not met.

Patient satisfaction was greatly improved for the hospital after these changes. The manager of infrastructure services at the hospital, Shawn Triplett, said, “Before, we would have to wait until a lot of people complained and then do a lot of research to find the issue. Now, we are able to be more proactive about it. This has not only enabled us to resolve problems more quickly, but it has also reduced the number of calls to our help desk related to wireless connectivity.”

In both of these instances, 7SIGNAL’s Sapphire Wi-Fi Performance Management Program improved wireless network systems, thus allowing caregivers, patients, and guests reliable and seamless access to devices and vital information. Maintaining network access is crucial for the safety and satisfaction of today’s patients – and 7SIGNAL can help your facility achieve it.

7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.

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