Step into any business or organization these days, and you'll expect to be connected to the building's WiFi network. Connectivity is considered standards anywhere from hotels and restaurants to public parks and, yes, hospitals. But when it comes to healthcare facilities, coverage for all devices—medical devices, cell phones, two‑way radios, and more—is about more than convenience. The ability to swiftly communicate with others could be a matter of life and death.
In 2016, Healthcare IT News reported that hospitals contain an average of 10 to 15 medical devices per bed, and a 2,000‑bed healthcare organization could have as many as 1,500 infusion pumps alone. With recent advances in medical technology, those numbers keep climbing.
In‑building hospital coverage for devices, staff members, doctors, and patients is essential for everyone's health and safety. Below, we consider the three keys to optimizing network coverage across your healthcare facility.
Your Hospital Network Must Be Secure
Though communications technology continues evolving, the primary goals of secure communications haven’t changed: protecting people, property, and data. A hospital setting gives new meaning to security because confidentiality is key.
Healthcare IT News adds, "For hospitals looking to get a handle on networked medical devices and protect patient safety ... it [is] critical to determine the scope and nature of medical device inventory and the type of data that's vulnerable." Such an inventory of devices takes time, but keeping patient data secure is worth the effort.
Your Hospital Network Must Cover the Entire Campus
Planning hospital network coverage can be tricky since medical staff are often on the go. It's not enough to strengthen the signal in critical care areas because medical emergencies are unpredictable. Fortunately, hospitals have often been on the cutting edge of communication technology. Doctors understand that quick, reliable communication is essential at all times.
Consider these tips from HealthTech Magazine for ensuring reliable coverage across your entire healthcare facility:
- Keep IoT isolated with separate wireless service set identifiers. This will keep the IoT devices from siphoning bandwidth, allowing other devices in the same room (or the same wireless signal) to perform well.
- Regularly assess system reliability across the entire healthcare organization. Technology changes quickly and medical solutions change quickly—make sure your facility evolves too.
- Make sure hospital staff can easily access the network in case of an emergency. While it might seem logical to require monthly password changes or to automatically log staff out of their accounts on devices, this can cause devastating delays in the case of an emergency. Rather than focusing on cybersecurity with password changes, data systems can be boosted with firewalls and back‑end cybersecurity features instead.
Your Hospital Network Must Have Enough Capacity
Remember the 2016 estimate of 10 to 15 medical devices per bed? Now add to that the two‑way radios carried by hospital staff, the innumerable patient and family member cell phones, nurses' workstations, and even visitors' laptops. It's difficult to predict exactly how many devices might be connected to the in‑building coverage at one time, but planning for ever‑increasing capacity will help avoid disruption in the future.
It is worth noting that you must create specific, closed networks for mission‑critical communications. This is also important for avoiding HIPPA violations. Think about your hospital's coverage in terms of concentric circles. You need connectivity for a wide range of devices, but also a wide range of purposes—varying from public, convenience‑oriented WiFi to life‑or‑death medical devices.
Your Hospital Coverage Must Extend Beyond Location
Though this article has focused on in‑building hospital coverage, you must also consider how to connect your team between clinics and off‑site locations. For this, we often recommend WAVE, a group communication service that instantly connects your team across different networks, devices, and locations. Whether your staff carry two‑way radios or connect their devices, WAVE offers them a speedy, reliable communication solution for text, photo, video, or file sharing.
Whether you need to refresh one hospital building's WiFi network, assess the reliability of your entire healthcare organization's coverage, or simply find a better way to connect in‑building and off‑site staff, getting up‑to‑date information about today's technology is key. To find out more about hospital coverage options, check out our secure communications equipment guide.