3 Challenges Every Hospital Wireless Network Must Overcome

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | June 19, 2015 | Read Time: 3 mins

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According to a study by Aruba Networks, there is a gap between the demand for wireless by consumers and the ability to support those expectations by businesses.  This is especially true inside of the healthcare industry.

In fact, in the recent HIMSS Mobile Technology study only 47% of those surveyed said that implementing mobile technology into their hospital wireless networks was a high priority.

While it’s easy to say that every hospital Wi-Fi network should fully support every kind of mobile device for every type of user the reality is that there are many obstacles to catching up to the increased demand from both patients and doctors.

With only 70% of hospitals offering patient and guest access and 65% of all clinicians, patients and guests carrying three or more devices, hospital CIO’s have to start planning for this new health care environment.

Before you can create an effective wireless strategy you have to understand what you’re up against, here are 3 major problems that continue to make deploying a ubiquitous hospital-wide network a challenge.

Poor Wireless Network Design

It seems like an obvious problem but the reality is most hospital networks didn’t even realize that they were setting themselves up for disaster. In a lot of cases hospital CIO’s opted to implement their wireless strategy over time, often focusing on one specific application or in one specific location at a time.

The problem is that over time these un-connected networks have become outdated and now are just one piece of a larger fragmented hospital WLAN. In some other cases the WLAN is just not capable of supporting the current user demand and/or technical requirements needed in the new and evolving health care environment.

The Amount and Variety of Devices

There are some major problems that come along with implementing mobile devices that can frustrate even seasoned IT leaders. The most challenging is dealing with the sheer volume of devices trying to access your WLAN. You now have vast numbers of mission critical devices competing with devices such as tablets and smartphones most of which are BYOD which only creates more of a challenge to not only support but keep secure as well.

These new devices all present problems in the form of hardware and device updates, in a lot of cases these maintenance issues can stop devices from accessing the network. This growing demand creates all sorts of headaches when trying to scale your WLAN and meet the needed bandwidth required to support everyone and every device on your network.

The Hospital Environment

What makes the hospital environment so difficult besides the above are the unique physical elements that exist. Hospitals use a lot of different materials in their construction like concrete and other dense material; these are perfect for the building but terrible when it comes to creating a Wi-Fi friendly environment. Adding to this is the layout of the hospital itself.

Hospitals are designed for efficiency and a particular flow of patients, personnel and materials, which brings us to the next issue. There are literally thousands and thousands of moving metal objects actively moving around the hospital at any given point and like the building material creates an incredible amount of interference.

The Bottom Line

Taking the first steps towards creating a robust, secure WLAN that offers more efficiency and personalized care can be difficult, but the benefits far exceed the risks.

Having the right design, and the proper amount of planning will allow you to deliver the ultimate patient experience that will truly set your hospital apart from the rest.

Not only will you support the necessary and expected service levels but you’ll also notice a huge boost in your ROI due to lower operational costs, increased staff productivity and better overall efficiency.

It all starts with proper planning and if you get this right we think you’ll be surprised at how much of an impact it will have on your hospitals ability to serve its community.

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