Ah, Wi-Fi. One of life’s great inventions! May we never forget the futuristic buzzing and beeping of the dial-up modem connection.
Now that wireless networks have become the new norm pretty much everywhere, it’s no surprise they are the dominant technology in the healthcare industry, too. Wireless networks provide a secure, reliable way to connect medical staff and patients with data and resources from any location.
Designing a wireless network for your healthcare facility requires careful consideration of several factors, such as scalability, access control, security measures, and more. In this post, we will discuss four key points to remember when designing a wireless network for your healthcare organization.
Our team of experts created this FREE HIPAA compliance checklist so you can know where your organization stands.
1. Survey the floor plan of the healthcare campus
The first step in designing a healthcare wireless network is to survey the floor plan of the healthcare facility. This includes identifying areas where coverage is needed (patient rooms, lobbies, exam rooms, etc.) and assessing any existing features, such as columns or walls, that may reduce signal strength. There should be enough access points (APs) to ensure constant coverage throughout the facility without causing interference. Medical staff need constant access to critical data and resources, such as electronic health records, so the wireless network should be able to support multiple devices and several applications at once.
2. Make a list of device requirements
The next step is to make a list of device requirements. This includes identifying the types of devices that will be connecting to the wireless network, such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, medical equipment, and other devices. Once you have made a list of the types of devices that will be connecting to the network, make a list of the support requirements for each device. Consult the device manufacturer documentation or the FCC’s ID Search and Redirection Tool to find system requirements.
Each group of staff will most likely have different needs and applications to provide the best care possible.
3. Determine how many access points to include
Once you have identified the device requirements, determine how many access points (APs) are necessary to provide complete coverage. Depending on the size of your facility and the number of devices connecting to the network, you may need more than one AP per room or corridor. According to Watchguard, one AP can cover up to 2,000 square feet, however, most hospitals choose to include an AP per 1,000 feet. Additional access points may help ensure a constant connection as your patients binging the latest Netflix original series.
In addition to access points, consider investing in mesh networking technology to ensure that data is transmitted with minimal interference between nearby APs
4. Set up robust security protocols
Finally, it is essential to consider security protocols and measures when designing a wireless network for your healthcare facility. Medical data is sensitive, so investing in robust encryption and authentication technology is essential. Disable default settings, such as remote access or universal plug-and-play (UPnP) features that could be exploited by attackers. Additionally, configure the APs to use the latest Wi-Fi security standards, such as WPA2 or WPA3.
Healthcare organizations are subject to stringent regulations concerning patient privacy. To ensure that patient data is kept secure and to avoid any potential HIPAA violations, it’s important to implement a secure authentication system as part of any healthcare wireless network design. This involves assigning user accounts for each staff member and ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to the network.
Using Wireless Networks in Healthcare
Wireless networks offer a variety of benefits for healthcare organizations. They provide secure, reliable access to data and resources from anywhere in the facility, eliminating the need for wired connections. This reduces costs associated with installing additional infrastructure and makes it easier to make changes or add new devices if needed. Wireless networks also enable medical staff to move freely throughout the facility without having to worry about losing connection.
As with any infrastructure, ongoing maintenance is essential to keeping wireless networks secure and up-to-date. Regularly review the network to ensure that all security protocols are in place and up-to-date, and monitor performance to identify any potential issues with capacity.
With Provisions Group, your healthcare facility can be on the cutting edge of patient care, offering the critical wireless infrastructure necessary to provide secure data access and resources to support medical and hospital staff. We’ll bring our 20 years of knowledge as well as our trusted advisors, architects, engineers, consultants, strategists, and administrators to formulate and implement new technologies that complement your existing investments.
Let us do an assessment of your wireless networks to make sure you are set up for success! Schedule a call today.
Don’t forget your FREE HIPAA compliance checklist.