August 2009 | | Issue 8

Wireless Network Upgrade Improves Hospital's Performance

Wayne Memorial Hospital, a subset of the Wayne Memorial Health System, found it lacked the technology needed to support a mobile workforce. With disparate network access across the facility, Wayne assessed its current infrastructure to understand the state of its network and to explore potential solutions to help stimulate mobile connectivity.

Built with existing wireless access points actively operating the network, Tom Hoffman, manager of information services at Wayne Memorial, realized there was a significant lack of sophistication and reliability in the current landscape to maintain a superior level of care. "A more robust infrastructure was needed to optimize mobility and increase performance," he explains. "In addition, we needed a wireless solution that could provide a reliable wireless LAN (WLAN) solution to increase efficiency and provide security to maintain HIPAA compliance."

Once this need was identified, Wayne Memorial, a 98-bed hospital in Honesdale, Pa., serving patients throughout northeastern Pennsylvania and part of New York, joined efforts with Data Capture Solutions, a provider of mobile devices and WLAN solutions in the healthcare market, to evaluate a number of solutions to meet the hospital's strict criteria. After in-depth considerations of a number of solutions, Wayne ultimately identified a solution with the ability to provide pervasive wireless network access and freedom of movement, with highly reliable coverage indoors, outdoors, and at headquarters, branch offices, factory floors and warehouses.

The implementation included intelligent access points designed for fast, reliable, easy-to-use wireless connectivity, Wayne Memorial deployed 40 HP ProCurve MultiService Access Points (MAPs), three HP ProCurve MultiService Controllers and the HP ProCurve RF Manager in the hospital's main building. "This enabled us to expand our existing network and maintain always-on connectivity, security and communication," says Hoffman, "improving network performance and the ability to scale, with access points that provide plug-and-play functionality and seamless roaming capabilities."

The controllers provide centralized management and control to the network, giving Wayne expansive wireless coverage that is reliable and easy to control, Hoffman says. Since deploying the wireless network, Wayne Memorial has integrated a MEDITECH healthcare information system, allowing nurse's to dispense medicine and complete the proper documentation through a thin client. Doctors are now able to access the nurses' documentation while they examine their patients.

In addition to the MEDITECH deployment, Wayne Memorial uses guest access technology to ensure mobility to anyone in the facility. "Today, patients and guests alike are able to access the Internet with a user name and password supplied by the hospital, helping them stay connected to the outside world during long stays at the hospital," Hoffman says.

HP ProCurve MultiService Access Point

To provide security, these solutions segregate guest access traffic from internal healthcare applications and routes it directly to the Internet. RF Manager allows continuous network monitoring, detection and prevention intrusions, and helps Wayne produce HIPAA compliance reports.

Hoffman expects Wayne Memorial to broaden its use of networking technology in the near future. The hospital is planning to roll out a computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system, which will run over their HP ProCurve network. The CPOE system allows doctors to enter patient treatment instructions electronically, thereby reducing errors in transcription. In addition, Wayne Memorial is looking to equip its satellite locations - including doctor's office buildings - with networking equipment. Coupled with the CPOE system, this will allow doctors to be more mobile and take even greater advantage of wireless technology.

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