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Case Study

Sun River Health Leverages 7SIGNAL to Optimize Wireless Experiences


The Problem

Sun River Health is one of the United States’ largest federally qualified health centers. It was established in 1975 by four pioneering African American women, who were inspired to make a positive impact on their community after enduring long journeys to clinics to receive their own prenatal care.

After tenaciously pursuing grant funding, Mary Woods, Pearl Woods, Willie Mae Jackson, and Rev. Jeannette J. Phillips — collectively known as Sun River’s Founding Mothers — opened the very first facility in Peekskill, New York. As the organization approaches its fifth decade of serving underprivileged communities, it continues to uphold their remarkable legacy.

With a workforce of over 2,000 individuals, including 400 healthcare providers, they offer a wide range of comprehensive health services, encompassing internal medicine, women's health, pediatrics, dental care, and 14 sub-specialties. Their extensive presence now spans 40+ locations throughout New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson River Valley, serving between 400,000 and 450,000 patients annually.

Why Did Sun River Health Turn to 7SIGNAL?

Sun River Health has a large and complex wireless environment. Across their 40+ ambulatory care clinics, they operate a substantial fleet of 3,500+ wireless endpoints, predominantly consisting of desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones. Their edge-to-edge production environment, supported by Cisco, is equipped with 328 access points configured in a hub-and-spoke arrangement. All of this is managed by a single controller, with FlexConnect deployed to remotely configure and control access points.

While Sun River provides unmonitored guest and partner networks, their network team is primarily focused on ensuring the quality of their production environment. This is of the utmost importance since clinical staff rely heavily on this network to execute mission-critical tasks, like using the EMR to access vital patient information as they move between examination rooms.

Nevertheless, optimizing connectivity experiences proved to be more complex than anticipated. They were faced with the multifaceted challenge of delivering seamless end-user experiences across numerous device types in a variety contexts.

In fact, the issue that finally brought Sun River to 7SIGNAL was a persistent wave of end-user complaints. These originated from clinical staff, passed through various management channels, and eventually reached the highest echelons of the organization.

It reached a point where resolving connectivity issues had become a primary concern for their network team, diverting precious time and resources from more critical workflow-related tasks. The utilization of existing LAN management solutions like Cisco Prime Infrastructure yielded limited results since it could not capture data from end-user devices, leaving them in the dark regarding device information and the root causes of connectivity issues.

The Solution

The need was clear. In order to guarantee high-quality connectivity experiences, Sun River Health needed the ability to optimize their network in a timely and efficient manner. They required a solution that could help them 1) proactively identify problem areas before they impacted end-users and 2) pinpoint root causes when issues were reported.

For this, Sun River Health turned to 7SIGNAL. Since the platform consists of endpoint agents and Wi-Fi sensors, 7SIGNAL enables them to oversee network performance from the perspective of both user devices and the network infrastructure. This gives them data that is broader in scope and richer in detail than any they’ve ever had access to before.

Moreover, the deployment was simple. Sun River’s network team quickly and strategically placed sensors in high density areas across multiple locations. They then deployed endpoint agents across Windows, Android, MacOS, and Linux devices. This done, they can now scan their network and review performance insights on 7SIGNAL’s Wi-Fi dashboards.

To this end, Shawn Ferris, Sun River’s Director of Networking, attests to the transformative power of 7SIGNAL: “Staff often blame the (Wi-Fi) environment when they experience connectivity issues, but often their issues originate elsewhere. 7SIGNAL gives me the ability to audit their device connections and determine whether the problem is actually the environment or if it originates somewhere upstream in the network.”

Indeed, before adopting 7SIGNAL, Sun River lacked insight into end-user devices, making it impossible for them to determine the origins of many connectivity issues. However, now that they’ve got 7SIGNAL up and running, they can conduct in-depth examinations of each individual client, greatly simplifying the process of uncovering issues related to roaming, congestion, coverage, and more. This has helped them not only direct network optimization efforts, but also resolve ad hoc client issues more quickly.

Shawn further underscores that 7SIGNAL paints a comprehensive picture of the wireless environment, allowing him to zero in on connectivity issues all the way down to specific locations: "I can tell the staff member in Exam Room 7 exactly what’s causing their connectivity issues and how to go about fixing them."

In essence, 7SIGNAL has empowered Sun River Health to transition from a complaint-based approach to network optimization to something a little more dynamic, leveraging highly-relevant KPIs and real-time analytics. Or, in Shawn's words: "Instead of providing a picture in time, 7SIGNAL provides a movie."

“Instead of providing a picture in time, 7SIGNAL provides a movie.”
Shawn Ferris
Director of Networking

The Results

7SIGNAL has greatly improved Sun River Health’s Wi-Fi environment. Instead of relying on guesswork, the Sun River team now possess actionable data to help them verify issues or pinpoint network problems further upstream.

When comparing 7SIGNAL to other solutions such as Cisco's ThousandEyes, it became clear that 7SIGNAL stood out by providing insights from the client's viewpoint, whereas the latter primarily concentrated on hardware-related data. 

Moreover, Sun River didn't just utilize 7SIGNAL for troubleshooting; they harnessed it as a driver for improving employee satisfaction and streamlining workflows. The outcome has been a notable decrease in connectivity complaints and an empowered staff that can direct their attention to what matters most: providing high-quality healthcare services.

“Instead of providing a picture in time, 7SIGNAL provides a movie.”
Shawn Ferris
Director of Networking