Over the last decade, Wi-Fi has been driving the efficiency and flexibility of administrative tasks in the healthcare setting, ranging from patient check-ins to medical data collection and even treatment plan coordination. Now, a variety of applications in hospitals rely on Wi-Fi, including smart beds, oxygen monitoring devices, x-rays, and MRIs.
If WiFi slows down or stops working in a healthcare setting, there are three potential impacts:
- From a customer service perspective, patients cannot use Wi-Fi to communicate with family or friends or to entertain themselves while waiting for care.
- From a business perspective, administrative staff or nurses cannot communicate patient information.
- From a treatment perspective, patient care may be delayed.
Given the critical nature of information sharing in a hospital, the speed, quality, and consistency of your Wi-Fi matters–which is why you need to be monitoring it.
For Physicians & Administrators
Wi-Fi is key for information delivery among physicians—about patients, treatments, and any related research. These often comprise the highest priority communication in any hospital. Although not all systems depend on Wi-Fi, any technology that does could impede both business operations and patient care if it does not operate reliably.
For administrative staff, Wi-Fi is used like any other IT service. In this case, Wi-Fi speed affects business operations, and it also hampers the staff’s ability to communicate with physicians.
Certain Wi-Fi systems boast faster speeds and an increased capability to transmit large amounts of data without bogging down the wireless connection. If possible, we suggest discussing this upgrade with your Internet Service Provider so that a network outage will not cripple your hospital operations.
During their stay, patients and visitors can connect to a guest network. However, the sheer number of devices connecting to this network put excessive strain on it. For example, patients and their visitors may be streaming videos or games while waiting for care. These activities not only limit other guests’ access to the network, but they can also create a headache for your IT department and even drive up the costs of maintaining your network.
Guest networks in healthcare must be treated differently than the main wireless network used for hospital operations. We recommend restricting your guest network’s bandwidth. It’s also smart to prevent streaming and other high-bandwidth activities.
Understanding the capacity of your Wi-Fi is paramount, especially in a hospital setting. Unless you monitor your Wi-Fi to see how it responds to varying high-stress scenarios, it’s impossible to predict when it will break. Your hospital needs to be ahead of that potential disaster and understand what remedial action you will take if the network load exceeds capacity.
A hospital is one of the most demanding environments on Wi-Fi—if not the most. This is because the structure, size, and age of hospital buildings aren’t designed for open Wi-Fi access, so radio signals don’t go very far. When you consider the amount of other industrial and electronic equipment, hospitals are truly a hostile environment for Wi-Fi networks. Regardless of the challenges this environment poses, good and consistent Wi-Fi coverage is essential for all healthcare settings, especially hospitals.
Contact us today to better understand and optimize the performance of your wireless service.