By: Craig Badrick on December 7th, 2016


3 Ways Hospital Construction Is Weakening Your Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi  |  Wireless  |  Healthcare

You’ve experienced the ways your hospital Wi-Fi can fail. Spotty connectivity, slow Internet speed, frequent equipment failure -- these are all red flags that indicate a weakened wireless network. And the consequences are grim.


In a hospital environment, you can’t risk these consequences. It is critical for your network to support both medical professionals and patients. That means having an infrastructure that accounts for any interferences with connectivity, beginning with the hospital’s construction.

Hospitals were never designed with wireless networks in mind... Convoluted floor layouts in buildings that may be a century or more old are just the beginning of the problem. Hospitals are replete with Wi-Fi signal-blocking stainless steel equipment and medical devices that may emit radio frequency interference.” (Search Health IT)


There are numerous factors that can affect the performance of your wireless network, including neighboring concrete walls, metal and other elements throughout the building. Discover how all the dense materials used in the construction of hospitals can slow down your wireless network, and find out what you can do about it.


Have You Read This Yet?

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


Physical Barriers

Many of the construction materials used to build hospitals affect the transmission of wireless signals by absorbing or reflecting the radio waves. Here is a breakdown of some of the types of materials and items that can cause interference with your hospital Wi-Fi:


Medium/High Signal Loss


Medium/High Signal Loss


High Signal Loss


Very High Signal Loss


Low Signal Loss

Failing Light Ballasts


Microwave Ovens


Elevator Motor Brushes


Unauthorized Hot Spots            

Very High


If you’re going to have any chance of overcoming the signal loss or mitigating the interference these elements cause and achieving strong coverage and performance, you must first understand the environment into which the network is being deployed. A comprehensive site survey of your hospital lays the groundwork for a network design that overcomes these impediments.


External Factors

There are also considerations outside the walls of your hospital that can impact the performance of your Wi-Fi, especially if you are looking to extend coverage to outdoor areas. Public Wi-Fi offerings from providers like Xfinity, Comcast and Optimum have the potential to interfere with your wireless network signals, as do the following factors:

  • Power lines
  • Trees
  • TV masts or cameras
  • Scaffolding


Again, working around these obstructions to preserve your network performance starts with executing a site survey. The upfront planning and documentation that a site survey provides will facilitate a smooth and successful implementation of your network. For example, TTI’s expert site survey combines the use of sophisticated planning tools, knowledgeable engineers with extensive RF experience and on-site validation of software modeling. The site survey features the following:

  • Sources and locations of interference
  • Detailed coverage maps
  • Accurate information on the number of access points needed and locations
  • Insight into rogue access points
  • Plans for the building or campus as well as outdoor coverage
  • Identification and classification of neighboring networks and channel usage


Range of Signal

Perhaps your range of signal is too weak to support optimal Wi-Fi performance. For instance, what if the signal is unable to penetrate certain walls? Or what if you don’t have enough access points set up throughout?


“A hospital cannot have too many wireless access points. Medical facilities can require double, even triple, the number of access points that are typical of other installations.” (Search Health IT)


When you consider all the places you can't offer access points due to interference, security, accessibility and other factors, it may seem like your options for the required amount of access points are limited. A proper assessment of your wireless network will determine the best positioning for your access points, precisely how many of them you need to provide adequate service and how you can do so most affordably.


A smart wireless network design has the power to overcome issues of interference, and a good design begins with a solid wireless site survey process:


  • Building materials are applied to the floor plans to get accurate signal propagation.
  • Access point locations are optimized for coverage and serviceability.
  • Areas of special concern are identified, such as locations where abnormally large numbers of users may gather or bandwidth-critical applications are utilized.
  • Outdoor coverage is addressed and planned for.
  • On-site validation follows with verification of predictive coverage and bandwidth.
  • Sources of interference or poor coverage are documented and addressed in plans.
  • Predictive and on-site measurements are consolidated into a complete report, which can be used for grading existing networks, providing a Bill of Materials for a new network or equipping a wiring crew with locations for new access point installations.


The applications within your hospital that require a solid Wi-Fi connection are too important to risk. And staying competitive in today’s healthcare environment -- when patients have so many options available to them -- requires you to shore up your network performance. Don’t let the construction of your hospital continue to impede wireless range and strength. Take the necessary steps to survey and assess your situation.


Do you have additional thoughts on this topic? Add your insight below, and don’t forget to read your free copy of Healthcare IT Professionals: Is It Time To Invest In Better Wireless Networking?.


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