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Wi-Fi for Healthcare and Hospitals: 10 Optimization Tips

Like all businesses, hospitals, health centers, and other healthcare facilities rely on Wi-Fi to perform a variety of administrative, customer service, and operational tasks. It is particularly helpful when it comes to enhancing staff collaboration, patient experience, and access to mission-critical data and patient information.

However, as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to take root, and as increasingly sophisticated Wi-Fi standards create room for more potent use cases, Wi-Fi has become invaluable for fostering accessibility of care. For example, Wi-Fi now powers a broad array of telehealth and telemedicine services. These include remote patient monitoring, online doctor consultations, and other high-value services that are radically transforming the healthcare landscape by creating efficiencies in the allocation of resources.

With this in mind, we wanted to help IT professionals in the medical space accommodate the growing demand for Wi-Fi access. To help them build robust, scalable Wi-Fi environments, we’ve outlined tips, tricks, and solutions for optimizing Wi-Fi in hospitals and medical environments.

In this article we introduce you to the most common Wi-Fi use cases for healthcare. We also discuss ways you can optimize your Wi-Fi network to enable cutting edge care and services. Here’s what we cover:

Need visibility into Wi-Fi performance issues at your hospital? Chat with our team!

How Healthcare and Hospitals Benefit From Wi-Fi Optimization

It suffices to say that healthcare facilities and hospitals can derive numerous benefits from operating high-quality Wi-Fi environments. Beyond patient care, a well designed network can be leveraged to create cost savings, operational efficiencies, and additional services, without impacting quality of care.

In this section, we take a look at a number of these benefits, including:

  1. Enhanced Patient Care and Engagement
  2. Streamlined Operations
  3. Telemedicine and Remote Care
  4. Medical Device Integration and Internet of Things (IoT) Adoption
  5. Patient Safety and Monitoring

1. Enhanced Patient Care and Engagement

First and foremost, operating a high-quality Wi-Fi network ensures that patient visits are efficient and friction-free. By optimizing their networks, IT professionals can ensure that hospital staff are able to access mission-critical data (like electronic health records, or EHRs) from anywhere in the environment. This allows them to make informed decisions at the point of care, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Likewise, by creating and managing guest networks, IT professionals can ensure that patients, staff, and devices aren’t competing for Wi-Fi access. This means visitors can enjoy quality connections for communication, entertainment, and educational purposes, without sucking up bandwidth required by hospital staff for providing care.

2. Streamlined Operations

Having an efficient Wi-Fi network is also essential for streamlining operational tasks that impact staff efficiency and productivity, like administrative processes, inventory management, and asset tracking. However, perhaps the most obvious example here is staff communication. Having a robust Wi-Fi network with few dead zones ensures that relevant information can be communicated promptly and accurately. This is crucial for teamwork, coordination, and quality of care.

3. Telemedicine and Remote Care

As touched on previously, designing a robust, sophisticated Wi-Fi network is essential for enabling cutting edge telemedicine services and allowing healthcare providers to conduct virtual consultations and monitor patients remotely. This expands access to care, especially in remote or underserved areas.

4. Medical Device Integration and Internet of Things (IoT) Adoption

Along the same lines, modern medical devices are increasingly Wi-Fi-enabled, allowing for seamless integration into Wi-Fi networks. This connectivity facilitates real-time monitoring and data exchange, contributing to better patient care.

In addition, hospitals can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect various devices and systems, such as environmental controls, energy management, and smart building solutions, leading to improved resource efficiency.

However, these additional devices require bandwidth, and poorly optimized environments will be unable to facilitate the access necessary to maximize their value. By monitoring connections made by these devices and adjusting their usage accordingly, IT teams can make sure their networks are capable of accommodating these devices and staff can get the most out of them. 

5. Patient Safety and Monitoring

Wi-Fi connectivity is also important for monitoring devices and alarms, helping healthcare providers track patients' vital signs and receive immediate alerts in case of abnormalities. However, if Wi-Fi networks are patchy or suffer from frequent downtime, these devices become less reliable, impacting patient safety.

To learn more, watch our webinar on Healthcare Use Cases for Wi-Fi 6E!

Real World Example: How Sun River Health Benefited From Optimizing Wireless Experiences

However, the benefits enumerated above only scratch the surface. So, to provide a more concrete example of how Wi-Fi optimization can impact medical environments, we put together a case study with our friends over at Sun River Health, one of the United States’ largest federally qualified health centers.

In it, we discuss how integrating 7SIGNAL’s Wi-Fi optimization solutions into their environment has enabled them to overcome a lack of visibility into Wi-Fi performance issues. In turn we note that added visibility, coupled with enhanced troubleshooting and mean time to resolution (MTTR), has enabled them to transform Wi-Fi into a workforce multiplier.

Read the full case study here!

10 Ways to Improve Your Hospital's Wi-Fi Performance

Alright, so we’ve covered why you should invest time and effort into optimizing your network, now let’s look at how you can actually go about doing it. Here are ten tips and tricks for improving the performance of your environment:

  1. Conduct a thorough Wi-Fi assessment: Gather data on existing infrastructure. Identify sources of interference and use a Wi-Fi analyzer tool to monitor performance metrics.
  2. Optimize AP placement: Place APs strategically for needed coverage. Use a wireless site survey tool for mapping. Avoid AP overlap and interference.
  3. Use the right APs for the hospital's needs: Consider hospital size, layout, and device count. Size AP count for both coverage and capacity.
  4. Use a combination of 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz frequencies: Utilize different frequencies for various applications to optimize coverage and performance.
  5. Enable band steering: Automatically direct devices to optimal frequency bands. Enhance network performance based on location and conditions.
  6. Avoid wireless mesh networking: These may help overcome some challenges but typically at the expense of performance. Consider alternatives to maintain performance.
  7. Use a Wi-Fi management system: Implement software for centralized control. Manage, configure, monitor, and troubleshoot the network. (More on this in a moment!)
  8. Upgrade Wi-Fi infrastructure regularly: Stay current with the latest technologies. Improve performance, reliability, and security.
  9. Provide Wi-Fi training for staff: Educate staff on effective Wi-Fi use. Cover network security, etiquette, and troubleshooting.
  10. Monitor and maintain the Wi-Fi network: Regularly check signal strength and throughput. Identify and troubleshoot issues promptly. Conduct regular maintenance and upgrades.

Learn about the “Five Pillars” of Wi-Fi and how to optimize them to provide better connectivity experiences in your hospital.

How to Measure, Monitor, and Optimize Wi-Fi

This takes us to the 7SIGNAL Wi-Fi monitoring platform. With its unique combination of hardware and software elements, you’ll be able to monitor performance from the outside in.

The 7SIGNAL platform leverages Wi-Fi sensors to gain visibility into WLAN performance. These sensors enable you to measure a variety of metrics and identify areas in your network where optimization may be required.

In addition, the 7SIGNAL platform leverages a SaaS application, which is installed on end-user devices (Windows, Android, MacOS, Linux, GoogleTV, iGEL) and used to enhance digital experiences from the client perspective. This means you’ll have insight into how various manufacturers, software versions, adapters, drivers, and other specifications perform on your network.

Finally, 7SIGNAL’s performance monitoring dashboards enable you to observe and visualize everything in one place. This will help you catch issues in real time, prioritize how you address them, and reduce MTTR (mean time to resolve). 

By providing a comprehensive health overview and allowing deep dives into specific issues, 7SIGNAL ensures that network engineers and IT teams are always a step ahead in ensuring optimal Wi-Fi performance. By complementing WLAN vendors and offering a distinctive outside-in perspective, 7SIGNAL is setting new standards in Wi-Fi network performance and user experience optimization.

To learn more, set up a meeting with our team!

Learn More From the 7SIGNAL Experts

We’re always here to answer your Wi-Fi questions at 7SIGNAL. Our enterprise Wi-Fi optimization platform helps you plan and execute a healthier network. Contact us to learn more.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in enterprise Wi-Fi optimization, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7SIGNAL.com.