Uninterrupted Care Network for clinical environments

Wi-Fi solutions for your patient safety, clinician’s productivity, and patient satisfaction initiatives.

Healthcare

Healthcare

Drivers for Wi-Fi adoption in hospitals

In the last decade, hospitals have made significant investments in wireless technologies to improve:

  • Patient Safety by deploying connected medical devices such as smart IV pumps, smart beds, and telemetry that alert clinicians to intervene in a timely fashion.
  • Clinicians’ Productivity by providing care coordination systems such as Wi-Fi phones integrated with nurse call systems, EHR access from computers on wheels, etc.
  • Patient Satisfaction by providing Internet access to patients and visitors so that they can connect with friends and family and receive support from them.

But the promise of these improvements remains unfulfilled without a suitable Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Microcell Wi-Fi is the problem

Hospital Wi-Fi ecosystems comprise life-critical, mission-critical, and consumer-critical applications with each having different requirements from wireless. Wi-Fi is a shared medium and in a conventional microcell-based network the applications compete for the same resources and interfere with each other. Microcell-based Wi-Fi networks have other significant limitations, especially in highly mobile environments that make it challenging to deliver high reliability in hospital environments.

Hospitals compensate for such limitations with workarounds, such as relying on wired connectivity for Life Critical devices or overhead paging despite deploying Wi-Fi phones, or asking nurses to stop walking when they get a voice call. Such workarounds create patient safety risks, slow down clinicians, and ultimately make patients unhappy.

The Meru Uninterrupted Care Network is the solution

With the specific needs of hospitals in mind, Meru developed the Uninterrupted Care Network (UCN). UCN enables hospitals to create separate, dedicated channels for life-critical, mission-critical, and consumer-critical applications, utilizing unique RF Channel Layering technology. UCN empowers hospitals to:

  • Improve patient safety and quality of care by isolating life-critical applications from all other wireless traffic
  • Increase clinician efficiency by providing reliable, pervasive Wi-Fi coverage for mission-critical applications and by enabling physicians to use the mobility platform of their choice (BYOD) in the hospital, clinic, or home
  • Improve patient satisfaction by allowing patients to stay connected with family and friends and to stream music and videos
Q: Why do we need Meru’s Uninterrupted Network (UCN)?

Hospitals are making significant investments in wireless technologies to improve patient safety, clinician productivity, and guest satisfaction. Hospitals utilize different categories of applications with varied requirements and different levels of criticality – some that are life critical (e.g., telemetry, infusion pumps) and some that are critical to the mission of the hospital (e.g., EMR).

Wi-Fi is a shared medium, and in traditional microcell-based wireless deployments, applications compete and interfere with each other when running over the same RF (wireless) channels. So it becomes difficult to guarantee that a patient streaming video for entertainment purposes doesn’t interfere with the life-critical heart monitoring application.

Meru UCN, by using different RF layers, is uniquely able to separate wireless applications and thus provide a higher level of reliability and predictability for hospitals’ life-critical and mission-critical applications.

Q: We want to improve patient safety in our hospital, but we already have a Cisco wireless network. Do we have to replace our whole network, or can we get some benefits with Meru UCN?

Utilizing the complete Meru layered deployment is ideal for realizing the full benefits of the Meru uninterrupted care network. If that is not immediately possible, a hospital with an existing microcell-based network like Cisco’s can still benefit from the Meru UCN.

An RF application layer can be deployed as an overlay to the existing network to support life-critical and mission-critical services; the existing microcell network can continue to handle other less critical applications. This cost-effective approach enables hospitals to improve patient safety while continuing to derive value from their investment in the existing microcell-based network.

Q: Can’t I achieve the same application segregation results by using separate SSIDs and VLANs?

No. Having separate SSIDs and setting QoS policies on VLANs does not separate the applications over RF. They are still running over the same, shared RF channel, and thus interfere with each other. Separate channel layers in UCN allow you to run the applications on different RF channels, where they don’t interfere with each other

Q: We would like to run separate RF layers for different application classes, but we have budget constraints. What would be the best approach?

Although we recommend that the best implementation is a full three-layer deployment, Meru’s unique architecture provides a cost-effective way to grow the network incrementally to support new applications. Wireless access points can be easily added, and a new RF layer can be created when more coverage or capacity is needed, without having to rip out the installation or undertake the time-consuming channel mapping and reconfiguration required by conventional microcell wireless networks.

Q: Why do client devices not see a handoff over a Meru Wireless LAN?

Meru’s virtual cell technology, which presents multiple physical APs as a single logical AP to the client, provides seamless mobility for devices such as Wi-Fi phones and computers on wheels. When a mobile client needs to be handed from one physical AP to another, the infrastructure assigns a different physical AP to communicate with the client. The client continues to talk to the same logical AP (BSSID) and, from its perspective, does not experience a handoff – not even at the 802.11 layer. The benefits are higher reliability, no dropped calls, and, ultimately, higher productivity.

Q: We want to provision BYOD devices like iPads, iPhones, and Android devices to securely access our network, but we have a Cisco wireless and wired network. Can Meru Identity Manager meet our needs?

Identity Manager is a software platform for onboarding guest and employee devices. It dramatically reduces IT workload and ensures a trouble-free end-user experience. It works over any wired or wireless network, including Cisco’s. It also supports all the major operating systems, including iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, and Linux.

Q: We would like to provide better access for our doctors and clinicians from their home offices. Currently, they have to run VPN clients on their devices, and then log in. Is there a better way?

Yes. Meru’s remote access solution, utilizing the AP110 or AP332, is designed to simplify connectivity from small, remote clinics or home offices. These access points provide an integrated VPN link back to a Meru controller at the HQ location. This allows the hospital’s wireless network (ESSID) to be seamlessly and securely extended to the remote location: no VPN client is needed, improving the end user experience and lowering IT costs.

Q: We have limited staff. Can Meru help us assess what we need for wireless?

Meru and our authorized partners can provide solution-focused services aimed at making your experience with us as convenient and rewarding as possible. Whether you’re designing a new network, have outgrown your current network, or you’re upgrading, Meru services can help you find the most direct and problem-free path to your goal. And when your Meru system is in production, we can help you make sure it is keeping pace with the changes in your environment and your business with coverage checks, best practices, software upgrades, and system log analyses.

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