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Best Practices for Deploying Wireless Networks in Healthcare Facilities

February 19, 2017

The global market for wireless networks in healthcare is set to grow at a staggering pace through 2018. The demand for wireless technologies is one of the many reasons networking expertise can grow VARs' healthcare revenues. According to MarketsandMarkets research, the overall wireless health market, valued at $23.8B in 2013, will hit $59.7B by 2018 at an estimated CAGR of 20.2%. Wireless networking technologies dominate that market, the research firm says, and it's easy to see why. With use cases ranging from smart medical devices to telemedicine to guest access, wireless networks in healthcare are rapidly becoming the new standard.

Are you ready to take advantage of the demand for wireless networks in healthcare? To get you started, here are some best practices for deploying wireless networks in healthcare facilities.

1. Get to know the regulatory environment.

Hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, and other healthcare facilities must operate in compliance with HIPAA and HITECH regulations, which govern how they secure and protect patient health information. To deploy compliant wireless networks in healthcare facilities, you'll have to explore options such as VLANs or other traffic segregation methods to separate traffic by user type so that users on guest networks, for example, are not crossing paths with users on protected networks.

2. Get to know the physical environment.

Wireless networks in healthcare facilities can hit a variety of physical roadblocks. Thick or lead-lined walls can impede signals from facility access points (APs), as can microwaves and a host of other devices that emit radiation or radio frequencies. In addition, wide-open spaces, like waiting rooms, may not provide enough multi-path for 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi signals to be optimally effective. Wireless network design and AP placement in healthcare environments can be a challenge. As a VAR with networking expertise and the support of multiple wireless vendors, you'll be well-placed to help your healthcare customers develop the best Wi-Fi architecture for their needs.

3. Implement custom intelligence at the device level.

The unique demands placed on wireless networks in healthcare facilities make device-level intelligence a must, since traffic prioritization in healthcare environments can be a life-or-death matter. While reliable guest Wi-Fi access is a nice bonus, reliable wireless access for medical devices and recordkeeping is mandatory. Fortunately, most wireless device vendors today offer intelligent solutions for traffic segmentation and prioritization. These solutions can help your healthcare customers make sure that the TV show a patient is streaming in one room doesn't interfere with the bandwidth requirements of the exam room terminal next door.

As a VAR with networking expertise, you have the opportunity to assist your customers at every step. You also have a wealth of training and support resources available from your distributor and a network of potential collaborators waiting to help you customize and round out the solutions you offer. Are you ready to get into Wi-Fi in healthcare environments? Tell us your thoughts and concerns in the comments.