Wi-Fi® in Healthcare: The solution for growing hospital communication needs (2011)
Wi-Fi is widely used today in hospital settings as the communications backbone for traditional PC networking. It offers clinicians and IT departments reliable, security-protected transmission of data and messaging. Wi-Fi systems are flexible to grow and adjust to the changing needs found in hospital settings – from PC networking growth to the proliferation of Wi-Fi devices on the network, ranging from smartphones and tablets to patient monitoring devices. The use of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ products ensures that devices will interoperate and meet government-grade security requirements.
The number of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices in hospitals is growing significantly as the advantages of networking between devices, applications, clinicians and systems are realized. Wi-Fi communication may be present on a hospital floor in everything from infusion pumps and sensors to PCs, patient monitors, smartphones and wearable wireless devices (WWDs). As hospitals make greater use of electronic medical records (EMRs), more and more devices that interact with these records will find their way onto hospital Wi-Fi networks. For a majority of hospital systems, medical devices are just beginning to transition from proprietary private networks to Wi-Fi networks. As this transition continues and the balance of Wi-Fi devices begins to shift toward an increasing number of devices, system designers and administrators will face new challenges such as network capacity and scalability, device coexistence, mobility and power consumption.
Careful planning, implementation and monitoring of the enterprise Wi-Fi network helps ensure that hospital network administrators address these challenges effectively. Properly designed and maintained Wi-Fi networks offer hospital environments a proven, interoperable and security-protected system for handling a broad range of devices and data transfers.
This white paper is intended to identify technology areas that should be given special consideration in developing and maintaining Wi-Fi networks in hospital settings in order to maximize their performance and benefits. Hospital IT groups should consult service providers and equipment manufacturers for further planning details, as this paper serves as a guidance document only. The actual design and implementation of Wi-Fi networks is based upon the unique requirements of the devices and applications used in each hospital environment.