Four Challenges of Deploying Wireless in Healthcare
If you ask any wireless engineers what their ideal wireless environment would be – they would probably say a completely open space…with clear sight lines to every nook and cranny; where you can place the wireless AP’s exactly where you want them and where there is little to no conflicting signal traffic to create interference and complexity.
The healthcare environment is probably a wireless engineers worst nightmare with the added noise that hospital equipment brings and the 24/7 nature of hospitals.
This blog outlines four key challenges that wireless engineers face when designing a wireless network for hospitals.
A Variety Devices
There are plenty of issues that arise with mobile devices and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) looking to connect to Wireless Networks. The main challenge is the sheer volume of devices that will be connecting to your Wireless Lan (WLAN). You now have mission critical devices competing with tablets and smartphones which are mostly BYOD. This adds the challenges of not only supporting all these devices but ensuring they are kept secure.
Hospitals are 24X7 Operations
All hospitals are generally running to some capacity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Networks in emergency departments need to work at all hours. You can’t turn the WiFi off at certain points to perform network maintenance as they will be needed to provide care to critically injured patients. Even if hardware needs replacing for example if an AP in a patient room needs replacing, then this will need to be organised at a convenient time when the room is empty. The impact of network loss was demonstrated a few months ago when the Ransomware took the NHS by storm and infiltrated numerous health networks across the UK.
Hospitals are a Very Challenging RF Environment
When designing a Wireless network there are many challenges and issues in a medical environment. Most hospitals have grown over time adding wings and expansions onto a traditional building. This creates a maze of connections and hallways and walls that will affect RF propagation. Some areas are also shielded for RF, such as Radiology, which makes extending Wireless signal problematic. Proper planning and understanding of the hospital environment is needed to ensure the best method of providing reliable connectivity to users.
Hospitals Generally Have a variety of hardware
Most hospitals grow and acquire smaller hospitals and medical centres that generally come with their own networks and systems. This leaves IT staff having to work with different kinds of vendors, network switches, routers and access points. IT Staff will have to figure out how the networks and hardware can coexist and troubleshoot each brand. Combining this with the lack of downtime that is mentioned in point 2 above, it is difficult to keep medical networks up to date.
Most real-world settings where Wireless Networks that are deployed and operating today, fall short of the ideal RF environment. Hospitals for example, are one of the most complex environments to achieve connectivity, yet it is becoming a necessity.
If you would like to know more about Pinacl’s WiFi deployments in Hospitals, please call 01745 535300.
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