WiFi is ever changing. It fluctuates throughout the day, in response to the environment it serves. As users, devices and applications drop in and off of the network, the performance of your WiFi will be affected, sometimes leading to slower downloading / uploading speeds and occasionally network outages.
In hospitals, clinics and medical centers it is very common to have multiple floors, concrete walls, drop ceilings, large numbers personal devices, and important medical applications executing commands throughout the day and night. This makes for a very complex design and a difficult to manage wireless network environment that can prove quite the challenge for even the most seasoned IT exec.
It is less of a challenge however if the wireless network itself was properly and carefully designed. This is something we have done many times in the years we’ve been in business. Read on to see what may be causing WiFi performance issues in your environment, and how a redesigned wireless network can solve them.
The unique thing about a hospital wireless environment, is that it is occupied 24/7 and times and capacity can be unpredictable or hard to gauge. Most urgent care centers operate on a 24/7 basis too, and doctors have been extending their office hours too. This means that there is rarely a time when your wireless networks are not being called into action.
For this reason, it is important to create a ‘full-proof’ wifi network, designed to accommodate high density in all areas, a wide range and large number of wireless devices, and a variety of users. Designing for capacity is the first step toward creating an easier- to – manage wifi network. Here are some of the things that have to be taken into consideration when doing that.
The busiest areas of a clinic or hospital change throughout the day (and night) and can change very quickly too.
Some areas are easier to plan for than others. Waiting rooms, nurses’ stations and cafeterias are likely to be busy much of the time, and filled with devices demanding access to the wifi network. Other areas, like hallways, patient rooms, and courtyards can be harder to predict.
This makes managing the network a potential nightmare. Not only does fluctuation or unpredictable density make it harder to locate and troubleshoot wifi problems, it can make it physically difficult to fix the problem. It’s not always so easy to manage an access point that’s in the middle of a busy hallway or bustling waiting room.
In a hospital environment, maybe than in any other industry, designing for max capacity is a must. This ensures that no matter what the case, your faculty, staff and patients have reliable, secure wireless connectivity, so that your healthcare services are optimal and patients are getting the best care and experience possible.
Another unique feature of a healthcare environment wireless network, is the sheer number of wireless devices trying to connect the network. Accounting for all of those devices and making sure that they are connecting properly is a big challenge for the IT team in charge of managing the network.
Take into consideration too, the number of health-related devices and applications that have emerged over the last decade. While these advancements have proved invaluable, they have created complex issues for wireless network technology and management.
So if it’s been over three or four years since your wireless network was deployed, the chances are that you have started experiencing WiFi performance issues. To stay ahead of the increasing number and quality of devices, we recommend it that you plan to refresh your wireless network every 48 months.
The latest wifi technology also includes a lot of new tools like performance monitoring sensors and live-time feedback that will drastically improve wifi management.
Another problem with managing hospital wifi networks, is how to keep all those devices, users and applications separate. If you have only one network, all of your users and devices are being treated equally by your access points and firewalls. That means Mary streaming YouTube videos in the waiting room is getting the same treatment as the doctors and nurses relying on the network for essential communication and life-saving applications.
Segmenting your traffic into different networks allows you to assign different permissions to different users and devices. We commonly refer this to as Role-based Access Control. Implementing RBAC not only improves performance of all your wireless devices, allowing you to prioritize important devices like life-saving IoT or staff communication devices, but also provides heightened security so that all of your users and private information are protected.
Managing a healthcare wireless network has many challenges relating to capacity, but that’s just half of the story. The other problems you may face in regulating your wifi probably relate to coverage.
Every environment is different. The number or floors and buildings may vary. The coverage needs for outdoor spaces like atriums, dining areas and courtyards needs to be considered. The square footage and building materials are big factors for determining coverage needs.
Answering these questions correctly is essential to creating the best WiFi design for your unique coverage area and ultimately giving you the best chances at managing your network efficiently.
So what solves all these challenges? A well-designed wifi network backed by experienced professionals who do this stuff every day, and have for years. Experienced professionals like the team at Data Installers.