Today, the wireless LAN in hospitals is saturated with data and devices as clinicians use laptops and tablets to view and enter patient data, employees bring their own wireless devices to work for social interaction, and patients and visitors use their own devices for entertainment and communication.
Doctors are bringing mobile devices to the workplace at an alarming pace and are seeking to use them at point of care. Unrestricted usage could jeopardize patient privacy as well as place an unacceptable burden on the network and IT resources. Similarly, both patients and guests request to use their personal wireless devices while they are in the hospital. All of these devices potentially share a network environment with critical hospital wired and wireless medical devices including real-time location tracking systems (RTLS), telemetry, and biomed devices; each with their independent needs for security, quality of service, data access, and bandwidth.
With the influx of end-user devices accessing the hospital network comes the demand for consistent, reliable and continuously available connectivity; especially on the hospital wireless LAN. The need to recognize the increasing complexity of maintaining patient safety in the ubiquitous healthcare network is reflected in federal standards designed to address appropriate risk management in IT-related infrastructure when medical devices are accessing resources such as the hospital wireless network. IEC 80001-1 sets the stage for allowing institutions to deploy a single network to handle the needs of the medical devices as well as provides a standard of interoperability for securing all data on the clinical wireless LAN.
A wireless network that includes mission-critical medical devices demands the same level of availability that is expected from the wired network. The hospital Wi-Fi must be a resilient and fully redundant resource that is designed for use by essential clinical applications. The wireless infrastructure must enhance the patient and caregiver experience and provide superior operational and organizational value by lowering TCO, giving IT staff granular visibility, security and control over critical applications and devices from the core to the very edge of the network-with as few resources as possible. This infrastructure plays a leading role in enhancing the hospital’s ability to deliver modern, innovative healthcare so the institution remains competitive. But most of all, healthcare IT must remain a leader in patient safety and the mitigation of hospital risk.