These days, offering WiFi for both hospital visitors and clinicians is pretty much de rigeur. The problem is, clinicians need different things from their Wi-Fi connection than consumers do. And as a recent story in Healthcare IT News notes, that can make it difficult to keep up with everyone’s demands.
According to Ali Youssef, senior clinical mobile solutions architect at Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, maintaining a wireless network that suits everyone’s needs is “moving target.”
Youssef was responsible for planning and implementing the HFHS wireless network, which included expanding coverage from 4 million to 8 million square feet. What’s more, the network rollout had to take into account the needs of the HFHS enterprise EMR system, according to the HIN piece.
For Youssef, one of the most difficult problems health IT managers face in this situation is provisioning bandwidth appropriately to all the different types of devices that will share the bandwidth.
Not surprisingly, Youssef believes that one of the most important ways to see that everyone has enough bandwidth is regular contact with the system’s clinicians.
In some situations, clinicians may need far more bandwidth then the IT department had anticipated, for example, where clinician is launching a new project fueled by grant money, notes the Healthcare IT News piece. (We’re also increasingly see a growing list of wireless medical devices, such as wireless glucometers, edge into mainstream clinical care.)
To cope with these rapidly changing demands, Youssef recommends planning for a high level of wireless system redundancy and conducting site surveys.
And in what may be a more difficult challenge, he recommends that network architects keep continuous tabs on what types of devices are going to be used, and testing them see how they behave on their health system’s network.
Youssef didn’t offer any detailed advice on how to accommodate hospital visitors in this story, but clearly, they will pose a significant challenge to any hospital network architect as well.
Particularly as apps become part of patients’ health system experience, network architects will need to bear consumer experience of the network in mind as well. It will be interesting to see, over the next few years, whether consumer wireless health use demands a fresh approach to network architecture generally.