By: Craig Badrick on November 10th, 2016


3 Reasons WiFi Fails in Hospitals

Wi-Fi  |  Wireless  |  Healthcare

When the WiFi goes down, hospitals stop functioning. Here are the three most common reasons hospitals experience wireless network failures — and how to prevent them.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, heart-rate monitors — in today’s connected healthcare environment, a burgeoning profusion of devices are competing for access to your healthcare organization’s WiFi. Unfortunately, this traffic is liable to cause bottlenecks that can contribute to full-scale WiFi failure.

Hospitals will always see high volumes of end users and devices — and whether it’s patients or practitioners, they’re going to want both quality healthcare and quality service. Ultimately, hospitals can’t ensure patient satisfaction if they’re offering a slow connection or denying guests access.

As such, it may be time to consider a new network for your hospital — one that enables you to strike just the right balance between giving guests the WiFi access they want — and maintaining secure and reliable performance for mission-critical medical applications.

To avoid subpar network performance, hospitals must invest in optimal healthcare IT. It’s the only way to achieve a high level of quality, efficiency, and security in daily operations.


Have You Read This Yet?

Healthcare IT Professionals: Is It Time To Invest In Better Wireless Networking?


1. 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 them to stream movies while they wait? Are doctors uploading or downloading patient information? Do some tasks require more bandwidth than others? Understanding use is a vital first step.

You may be assuming that guests’ mobile devices are draining the available bandwidth, but the problem may lie elsewhere, like in an EHR system or another important medical application. The only way to achieve useful visibility into which devices are using up the greatest amount of bandwidth is to implement a professional WiFi network assessment.


2. Protecting Your Healthcare IT: Is Every Device Secure?

With so many users and devices accessing one network, security must be a major priority. If it’s not given its fair share of attention, hospital IT directors are risking the security of their networks, the financial stability of their organizations, and the privacy of their patients’ healthcare data.

Recent reports reveal that healthcare data breaches carry the highest costs of any industry at $408 per record with an average data breach is reaching $3.86 million in total damages. Likewise, Information Week reveals that nearly 90 percent of healthcare organizations have been breached in the past two years with an average cost of $2.2 million per hack. The solution is simple — better network security.

Unfortunately, patients may be accessing unsecured networks without even knowing it. The first step is to segment the central network and the guest network in order to limit the dangers that patient can pose to the more sensitive areas of the network.

In addition to focusing on guest access, managers must be strategic when it comes to employee access policies. Be sure to define privileges across all users — at every level of the organization — to ensure you’re not needlessly opening up areas of the network that need not be exposed.


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

When multiple vulnerabilities arise because of high device volumes, admins must be able to recognize the signs of a poorly-performing network. In order to deliver the kind of user experience that your healthcare organization needs, it’s advisable to invest in upgrades to overcome the following challenges:

Old Equipment

If you’re spending excessive time troubleshooting, it's time to upgrade your old systems. There are two ways to approach equipment upgrades: wait to replace it until all of your networking hardware is old and out-of-date, or take a more proactive approach by budgeting to refresh certain network components each year so that nothing becomes too outdated. If all of your equipment is still experiencing critical failures, you may not have the luxury of a phased approach.

Poor Wireless Design

It's important to understand your hospital’s RF environment. A well-executed site survey can identify problem areas in your hospital’s network and provide the information you need to design the appropriate solutions.

Insufficient Wireless Access Points

It’s essential that your access points be deployed in such a way so as to ensure maximum connectivity. Again, a site survey can do wonders to help in this regard. A wireless site survey will help you identify where you might need to upgrade, replace, or add more access points (APs). There is no “one size fits all” approach to the selection or distribution of APs, as every situation will require a unique design.

Lack of Advancements in Wireless Technology

It’s vital to stay abreast of any advancements that support increasing bandwidth needs. “In the healthcare industry, WiFi 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).

As such, investing in WiFi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is paramount for hospitals. It offers faster speeds (9.6 Gbps: up 300% from its predecessor’s 3.5 Gbps), greater control, and improved efficiency for your networks. However, you’ll also need to invest in good cabling to maximize its effectiveness.


Does Your Hospital WiFi Need a Check-up?

The healthcare IT arena continues to evolve as the demands of users evolve. If an overflow of devices accessing your network is causing you some of these familiar frustrations, it may be time to reevaluate your approach and take the necessary steps to strengthen the performance and security of your wireless network. If your hospital’s WiFi network is suffering from performance issues or you’re failing to provide your employees and patients with the connectivity they need, reach out to the professionals at Turn-key Technologies (TTI) today.

For nearly three decades, the IT professionals at TTI have been working with hospitals to design best-in-class hospital networks that check all the right boxes: performance, security, and compliance. With a knowledgeable networking partner like TTI, healthcare organizations can forget about WiFi failures and focus on what matters: quality healthcare.

Don’t forget to download your free copy of Healthcare IT Professionals: Is It Time To Invest In Better Wireless Networking?

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