The South County Hospital Healthcare System (SCHHS), located in southern Rhode Island, is an independent, non-profit, acute-care hospital offering the latest advances in technology and a comprehensive range of medical and surgical services delivered by expert physicians and highly trained staff. With the goal of quality patient care, SCHHS is guided by the values of caring, respect, integrity, collaboration, and excellence.
To cost-effectively handle massive new network growth and bandwidth requirements resulting from the hiring of physician practices and the increased use of bio-medical devices, wireless carts and personal devices, SCHHS chose Extreme Networks for reliable, secure and easy-to-manage wired and wireless network access.
A few years ago, SCHHS developed a strategy to grow by hiring physician practices. With only one network administrator, it became very challenging to manage a growing network while maintaining what they already had. With a ‘mish-mash’ of different solutions and limited staff to support the network, the hospital sought an easy-to-manage, high-performance and cost-effective network solution to standardize on.
With a large number of medical devices being on-boarded to the wired and wireless network such as EKG monitors, baby monitors, IV infusion pumps and wireless carts, security threats and the ability to protect the hospital’s mission- critical network and the devices connected to it became a rising concern.
It was also important for the hospital to be able to provide courtesy Internet access to over 3,000 monthly users to improve patient satisfaction. SCHHS sought a solution that would allow guests to access the Internet without impacting the production network and causing latency for the nurses and clinical staff or interfering with electronic records, digital x-rays, video conferencing, and other high-bandwidth patient requirements.
Extreme Networks Solution
As SCHHS sought to update its network equipment, cost was a huge factor. The IS team chose Extreme Networks as the vendor to standardize on for their cost savings, support and equipment abilities. Having already had Extreme Networks equipment in their network, their decision was based on the track record they had seen at the hospital and the Extreme Networks sales and support team.
“The cost savings has been extraordinary compared to competitors, uptime has been amazing and the support we get when we’re troubleshooting is second- to-none. The belief and trust we’ve developed in the Extreme Networks brand and equipment has driven all of our decisions going forward,” said Ken Hedglen, Manager of Technology, SCHHS.
The Extreme Networks solution, designed to meet the high-demand and high- availability requirements of a hospital environment, includes S-Series switches at the core, C-Series switches at the edge, IdentiFi Wireless and the NetSight network management solution to bring the entire network into one view. Having both the wired and wireless solutions come from the same vendor has helped the hospital to be familiar with their set up and enables them to troubleshoot quicker.
The Extreme Networks IdentiFi wireless solution has enabled SCHHS to provide courtesy Internet access for a growing number of guests which has contributed to their #1 patient satisfaction rating (voted by its patients for four consecutive years in Rhode Island), while making sure critical medical devices and applications receive the highest priority. “There’s a myriad of achievements over the past few years, including being in the top percentile in the U.S. and the World. None of that would be possible if we didn’t have an infrastructure that was providing us with such great uptime,” said Hedglen.
The Extreme Networks solution has given SCHHS a cost-effective, reliable infrastructure that can handle the mobile needs of a demanding and mission- critical hospital environment while improving patient satisfaction:
- Ease-of-management – The unified NetSight network management
console enables SCHHS to manage its entire network with just one network administrator. “Since our network administrator started, our already large network has tripled; the number of ports that need to be supported has gone up over 300%,” says Hedglen. NetSight has made it possible for the hospital’s one network administrator, Lorna Racano, to manage new growth while maintaining everything else. According to her, “Extreme Networks has made my job easier because with NetSight I can quickly see anything in the network. I love the wireless dashboard where I can find a guest or a wireless mobile cart by easily seeing what AP it is connecting to.”
- Reliable, secure, high-performance network – As SCHHS began to hire physician practices, Extreme Networks enabled them to deploy their network to these practices securely and connect 48 employed Physicians and their staff with little interruption. Hedglen says, “I give a lot of credit to Extreme Networks because the network equipment has been so reliable which has allowed our network administrator to be able to focus on rollouts rather than putting out fires or dealing with break-fix issues.” The hospital is confident that their infrastructure is now well-positioned to handle the addition of more bio- medical equipment and other bandwidth intensive devices and applications onto the network.
- Improved patient satisfaction – One of the biggest issues in a hospital is customer satisfaction and patients having to wait to access the network. According to Hedglen, “At the South County Hospital Healthcare System we don’t have that issue; people have reliable access to the complimentary guest network with great support. For several years we used to outsource our guest support for our wireless network and we’ve come to realize that it’s no longer needed because guests don’t have a problem connecting anymore thanks to our reliable, high-bandwidth Extreme Networks network.”
- High-speed wireless access – “Working with Extreme Networks technology we’ve been able to throttle our network for the guests without impeding on the production network for employees. I haven’t received a single complaint about wireless speed. So many people connect to the guest network and even though they are sharing the same access points as our employees, they are configured in a way that the bands do not interfere with our production side,” said Hedglen.
The South County Hospital Healthcare System’s overall experience working with Extreme Networks has been, in a word, “exceptional.” According to Hedglen, the quality of the Extreme Networks sales and support staff is incomparable, “They bend over backwards to give us the most aggressive pricing possible. When products reach end of support, they make sure we have everything we need to get us through until we are able to replace it and they work with us to make sure that it fits within our pricing goals and what we’re looking to do. In eight years, I’ve never had an issue asking for support or better pricing.”
To take security to the next level and stay ahead of potential threats and attacks, SCHHS is looking at adding the Extreme Networks NAC situation so that they can be alerted about rogue devices. To stay ahead of network bandwidth as they go to more electronic records, digital x-rays and video conferencing, the hospital is working on updating the data center connections to 10G and growing that so they will be well-equipped to handle the present and future demands of their mission- critical mobile hospital environment.