Rising demands for wireless connectivity, ranging from Internet of Thing (IoT) devices to sufferer expectations for Wi-Fi access, prodded Toronto-based Scarborough and Rouge Hospital to upgrade its networks.
In the month of December, the organization—recently formed through a merger—decided to expand wireless capabilities dramatically, opting a gigabit wireless connectivity from Aruba, owned by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In doing so, the system says it needs to make better the efficiency for nurses and physicians.
The new wireless connectivity, the first complete deployment of an Aruba 802.11ac Wave 2 network at a hospital in Canada, also will make sure that the hospital can accommodate future use cases and applications, like indoor location services.
The provider merger brought together Scarborough Hospital’s Birchmount and General facilities with Centenary Hospital of Rouge Valley Health System. The wireless connectivity went live in December at Birchmount and General, with Centenary now doing its upgrade.
The new wireless network is a considerable improvement over the initial level of connectivity from the legacy network, claims Gary Lam, manager of technical services.
Patient satisfaction was a huge part of the move to increase wireless connectivity because it was sporadic in sufferer rooms and there was no Wi-Fi.
“We encountered several limitations, involving inability to deliver the speed needed to efficiently use newer mobile medical equipment, like ultrasound devices for sending images, IV pumps for infusion data and clocks for time updates,” Lam states.
“Moreover, with the assumption that we will connect even more devices in the future, and an expectation of our sufferers and physician groups that they can use the latest laptop, smartphones and tablets, we required to put in place a network that could manage the speed and density to accommodate all of these,” he adds.
Scarborough and Rouge contracted with telecommunications firm TELUS to help in developing a request for proposals.
Aruba got the agreement because its technology integration experience was superior to other considered vendors; it had updated firmware and internal firewalls; offered access point security software as part of the package and not an add-on, which lowered charges; and had a very attractive warranty, Lam claims.
TELUS also helped in laying out wireless access point locations, technical implementation and integration services. Now, connectivity is powerful, and sufferers have WI-FI access, Lam states.
But it takes time to get optimal wireless strength executed across hospitals, Lam points out. When access points were installed, coverage throughout the facility didn’t meet expectations, and workers had to test access by walking throughout the buildings.
Lam and other hospital personnel made various walk-arounds with TELUS, repositioning access points in Birchmount and General Hospitals. Other agencies embarking a similar enterprise wide program can hope the similar level of manual effort, Lam advises. “There is a lot of configuration tweaks and optimization to be done. A good walkaround can take a week.”
He advises doing a pre-site survey to make certain the configurations and access points the vendor is installing are precise. The access points put in during the survey and checked for signal strength assists extrapolate how many access points will be required across the building.
There also is work required to reduce interference from new equipment that comes in the facility, like a microwave or fire-rated doors that block wireless signals.
Operating rooms, with all the equipment inside of them, were specifically troublesome as the equipment increases interference, in accordance to Lam, so there was plenty of re-positioning of wireless access points to make definite that data signals were powerful.
To ensure user connectivity, a wi-fi and lan monitor solution could be deployed in order to maintain network performance.
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