What Could Go Wrong with Your Hospital Network?

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What Could Go Wrong with Your Hospital Network?

Learn about a few of the common problems for wireless networking in large medical organizations and how some of 7SIGNAL’s tools can help

Large organizations such as hospitals suffer from many common networking problems that can be hard to overcome and resolve. The network has to be able to manage a wide range of devices while ensuring access points are placed effectively and that interference isn’t causing drops or slowdowns.

Continuous, reliable connections are especially important within healthcare organizations, since so many life-sustaining devices depend on this stability.

So, what are common problems hospitals and similar complex campuses face? Here are some priorities:

Cybersecurity

As TechCrunch reports, networking within the healthcare industry is particularly susceptible to cyberattacks these days. And this is especially concerning for hospitals and care centers because both lives and data privacy may depend on a secure network.

Hackers can get into a network via phishing attempts and other methods. For example, a doctor could easily open an attacking email and download malware onto his or her computer—which could then lead to a breach of confidential information about the hospital, or hackers even gaining access to medical devices in the network.

Consider the range of devices that exist within healthcare organizations, from mobile wearables to networked medical equipment and machines. The Internet of Things (IoT) has made this issue even more complicated, because many smart IoT devices haven’t yet fully implemented successful security tactics. There are countless personal and professional applications that are being introduced regularly, and many of them aren’t totally secure.

The network must have sufficient cybersecurity to ensure that this wide range of devices aren’t susceptible to attacks—or at least detect one when it occurs. Automation tactics can help by providing automatic updates to software, and the IT staff needs to continually educate providers and administrators about the risks and what not to do on the network—as well as stay abreast of new technologies and best practices themselves.

Network design and coverage

Every hospital campus looks different, and wireless network managers are tasked with ensuring each and every hallway, room, and outdoor space is within range of access points (APs). While access points should generally be placed in the highest-traffic areas, users will experience drops when they move throughout the facility if they’re not placed correctly or efficiently.

This is why it’s crucial to have floor plans for the entire campus and a clear understanding of the overall square footage and necessary network coverage. This will help managers to accurately place access points for optimal coverage that spans the entire area and allows for necessary roaming. But it’s a delicate balance of deploying the right amount of access points vs. more of them. Too many APs could cause problems with throughput.

Supporting the range of devices

Another common problem facing hospital networks is supporting all of the devices that enter and exit the network boundaries each day. The IoT means that patients and visitors will bring in wearables like smart watches in addition to their tablets and smartphones. All of these devices will try to connect to the network—on top of the medical devices throughout the campus such as x-ray and MRI machines, dedicated patient wearables that track vitals, and many more.

Modern medical devices also connect to one another, working together to provide a “truly connected environment as Jay White of Laird Technologies wrote for Becker’s Hospital Review. Instead of devices only providing up-to-the-minute stats about patients, the next generation of devices will also “achieve remarkable efficiencies in terms of patient safety, data accuracy, and mobility.”

For these efforts to be successful—for data to be accurate and for a hospital to support a truly connected environment—a successful network needs to be continuously monitored to ensure end-user satisfaction, and adapted to any challenges as needed.

Wireless network monitoring tools from 7SIGNAL

One of the most important aspects of wireless network planning is implementing a monitoring system that provides valuable end-user-experience data to improve network design and management. 7SIGNAL offers wireless network management that monitors connection rates and quality, signal strength, RF interference, and more, plus provides 100% SaaS delivery and visibility of Wi-Fi performance across the enterprise from any browser. Network monitoring may even assist with cybersecurity if it detects an unusual spike in traffic from certain areas that could signal an attack.

This visibility helps managers find and address problems before patients and visitors experience any issues. 7SIGNAL’s Sapphire Eye is a Wi-Fi sensor that monitors the quality of the end-user experience on the network. The Mobile Eye can also be installed on individual devices, which, in conjunction with the Sapphire Eye, provides network managers the ability to truly implement complete wireless network monitoring.

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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