Jul 02 2024

How Wi-Fi Upgrades Support Hospitals’ Smart Room Initiatives

As the number of smart room technological innovations in healthcare continues to grow, network upgrades become more important than ever.

Technological innovations in healthcare are increasing at a rapid pace, especially as more and more healthcare organizations implement smart room and Patient Room ‘Next’ philosophies to streamline hospital operations and improve patient care. All of these sensors, cameras and other Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices in healthcare settings enable staff members to provide seamless, integrated care, and allow patients to receive more consumer-oriented comforts.

But supporting all of these technology initiatives and varied devices requires healthcare organizations to upgrade their networks so that they’re fully equipped to handle the increased load while protecting patient data and hospital infrastructure.

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Rapidly Expanding Technology in Patient Rooms

The Patient Room ‘Next’ framework envisions a flexible, technology-enabled space in which patients receive state-of-the-art treatment regardless of where that treatment is being provided. Consistent care can be provided from traditional in-patient rooms, exam areas, operating rooms and intensive care units to ambulatory care centers, remote clinics, “hospital at home” settings and more.

A cornerstone of Patient Room ‘Next’ technology is Artisight’s Internet of Things sensor network, which uses cameras, sensors and microphones to collect data. That data is then analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms supported by NVIDIA Clara Guardian.

By surfacing alerts to clinical teams, the sensor network can improve patient care and efficiency by augmenting clinical workflows such as tracking hand-washing, monitoring IV fluid levels and detecting movements and behaviors that might lead to patient falls.

Tablets give patients information such as test results and more autonomy to order meals or call a nurse. Other smart devices include wearables, smart beds, biosensors and implanted monitors, which help in continuous health tracking and the early detection of potential health issues.

Environmental technologies can adjust the lighting, blinds and temperature control in the patient space. There are also remote patient monitoring devices that are expanding hospitals’ device networks into the home, helping to prevent hospital readmissions.

DIVE DEEPER: Health systems are updating patient rooms to improve experiences.

Network Considerations for Healthcare Organizations

Networks are the backbone of many healthcare organizations’ technology initiatives. Healthcare relies heavily on Wi-Fi for rapid, seamless access to patient records, histories and diagnostic images. With the rise of virtual care, providers depend on uninterrupted connections.

What’s more, the rapidly growing number of IoMT devices and other tools that require internet access means that healthcare organization networks today can quickly become overloaded. In addition, each of these devices creates an additional attack vector for bad actors, so health IT teams must be able to monitor, manage and secure devices to reduce risk and minimize the effect of cyberattacks, especially as IoMT devices integrate with more systems in healthcare IT environments.

Network modernization for this vital infrastructure not only improves security but also enhances performance and reliability, and supports the rising number of IoMT devices, mobile devices and cloud migrations that are putting more strain on organizations’ existing network infrastructures.

Healthcare organizations that are implementing patient room upgrades should keep these networking considerations in mind:

  • Next-generation IoMT applications are dependent on high speed, low latency and jitter-free connectivity. Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E, an extension of Wi-Fi 6,comes with several benefits for healthcare organizations, including faster speeds, lower latency and increased network security. However, before healthcare IT teams begin a modernization project, it’s important that they ensure their infrastructure and IT ecosystem are compatible with the new wireless standard.
  • Before starting any network upgrades, it’s essential that healthcare IT leaders have a clear picture of their organization’s existing network ecosystem. That’s where a network assessment comes in. An assessment should be done as early as possible in the networking modernization process. A partner such as CDW can help a healthcare organization map out its modernization strategy and determine which equipment is needed to enable Wi-Fi 6E connectivity.
  • As more organizations migrate to the cloud, having a strong network becomes even more important. Many healthcare IT teams need help figuring out how to bridge the gap from on-premises storage to the cloud amid their digital transformation journeys. Organizations are also increasingly focused on software-defined networks and automation to create efficiencies to ease IT staff and skills shortages.
  • Interoperability among health IT systems is vital to the smooth functioning of a smart hospital. Recognizing this, healthcare industries worldwide are making strides toward adopting standards that enhance interoperability, including Health Level Seven International, or HL7, a set of standards, formats and definitions for exchanging and developing electronic health records.
  • Don’t try to go it alone. If healthcare organizations don’t have experience with network upgrades, working alone can be a challenge, and IT teams can run into issues that might otherwise have been avoided if they’d connected with a technology partner.

UP NEXT: Integrate smart hospital solutions into health IT ecosystems.

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