Healthcare IT Frustrations: Too Many Devices Trying To Access Your WLAN

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, monitors and other medical technology — all of these devices are trying to access your healthcare organization’s WLAN, which is likely to be causing some significant frustrations across the network.

Perhaps this problem is resulting in insufficient performance and impacting mission-critical applications. If this is the case, you’re failing to ensure optimal healthcare IT, and that’s no way to achieve a high level of quality, efficiency and security in daily operations.

There’s always going to be a high volume of people visiting your organization, which translates to many devices trying to connect. The fact is patients want both quality care AND service, so you can’t ensure patient satisfaction if you’re offering a slow connection or denying guest access.

With so many options available in healthcare today, it is essential to stay competitive and keep patients happy. After all, you can’t afford to lose them. Is there a way around this predicament? How does a healthcare IT department go about handling it?

It may be time to consider a new network for your organization — one that enables you to strike just the right balance between allowing guest access to Wi-Fi and maintaining strong performance for medical applications. Let’s take a closer look at how too many devices trying to access your WLAN may be generating major frustrations, and then identify ways to overcome this challenge.

Have You Read This Yet? Healthcare IT Professionals: Is It Time To Invest In Better Wireless Networking?

Breaking Down Usage: What Is Each Device Doing on Your Network?

It’s important to understand exactly what the various devices accessing your network are trying to do. Are patients using it to stream movies while they wait? Are doctors uploading or downloading patient information? As some tasks expend more bandwidth than others, knowing the distinction is vital.

You may be assuming that guests’ mobile devices are draining the available bandwidth, but maybe the actual problem is your EHR system or another important medical application. The only way to get true insight into which devices are using up the greatest amount of bandwidth is to implement a network assessment or have the right management tools.

Once you have this awareness, you can supplement the bandwidth where needed, limit access where warranted and take other measures to ensure that you’re providing strong network performance for all users and applications.

Protecting Your Healthcare IT: Is Every Device Secure?

With so many users and devices accessing your WLAN, is the security of your network being compromised? If so, you’re putting the organization in grave and costly danger.

recent Healthcare IT News article reports that the average global cost of a data breach for healthcare organizations is $355 per lost or stolen recordInformation Week reveals that nearly 90 percent of healthcare organizations were slammed by a breach in the past two years — with an average cost of $2.2 million per hack. You simply can’t afford to allow your network problems to weaken the security of data and information.

Unfortunately, patients may be allowing unsecure access without even knowing it. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure optimal design that fortifies your network. You must make a distinction between the central network and the guest network in order to limit the dangers mistakenly invited by unknowing patients and their devices.

In addition to focusing on guest access, think about how you manage employee access. Be sure to define privileges across these users to keep your network safe.

Implementing Positive Change: Does Your Network Need a Maintenance Upgrade?

When multiple frustrations and vulnerabilities arise because you have so many devices accessing your WLAN, it’s time to take note of the obvious signs of a poorly performing network. In order to deliver the kind of user experience that your healthcare organization needs, think about upgrades to overcome the following challenges:

Old Equipment

If you’re spending more time troubleshooting than you should, it’s time to upgrade your old systems. There are two ways to approach equipment upgrades: Wait until all of your networking hardware is old and out of date to replace it, or take a more progressive approach by replacing a little of the oldest equipment each year so that nothing gets too outdated. If all of your equipment is having critical failures, you may not be able to wait around for a phased approach.

Poor Wireless Design

In order to achieve the desired coverage and performance of a wireless network, you must fully understand the RF environment into which the network is being deployed. The result of a properly executed site survey and design is a network that supports the requisite coverage and number of devices.

Insufficient Wireless Access Points

It’s essential for the setup of your access points to ensure maximum connectivity. Deciding which solutions are right for you comes back to performing a site survey and network assessment. This will allow you to uncover your high density or bandwidth hungry locations and supplement with either higher capacity, or more, access points.  There is no “one size fits all” approach to AP types or locations, as every situation is unique and should be designed as such.

Lack of Advancements in Wireless Technology

It’s vital to stay abreast of any advancements that support increasing bandwidth needs, like 802.11ac Wave 2. “In the healthcare industry, Wi-Fi is increasingly used for mission-critical applications including cardiac and radiology imaging, telemedicine, electronic medical record procedures, handheld scanners, and voice over IP. In order to ensure that such applications run efficiently and securely, the healthcare industry requires high-performing, high-capacity, and pervasive wireless connectivity.” (Grand View Research)

The healthcare IT arena continues to evolve as the demands of users expand. If an overflow of devices accessing your network is causing you some of these familiar frustrations, it’s time to reevaluate your approach and take the necessary steps to strengthen performance and security.

By Craig Badrick


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