To prevent this, hospitals should work proactively to separate network traffic based on users, prioritize medically-necessary usage, and monitor WiFi performance.
Separate network traffic and prioritize medical use
While networks should be separated for security reasons, it also helps to separate them in order to restrict guest’s bandwidth. With separate networks, it is possible to implement Quality of Service (QoS) rules on routers and divide available bandwidth based on assigned priority. For example, you can restrict the bandwidth of your guest network, preventing guests and patients from eating up too much bandwidth streaming videos or games while waiting for care.
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Each router has different firmware and capabilities, so the QoS settings will be different, but the concept is the same. Use your QoS rules to tell your router what applications, services, and/or users are most important. Then, these devices will receive the most bandwidth and the best user experience time. Non-prioritized traffic will then be prevented from negatively affecting critical medical resources. You can visit your manufacturer’s website to review documentation detailing what QoS settings your router supports and how to access them.
Monitor WiFi performance
Maintaining optimized network speed, quality, and consistency of performance is critical in providing the best patient care, which is why hospitals should continuously monitor their networks. If you don’t know how your network performs during various normal and high-stress scenarios, you don’t know that you can absolutely depend on your network.
As networks are dynamic - changing every time devices are added or removed, when buildings are renovated, and when software and hardware are updated - they must be monitored 24/7 in real-time in order to ensure that all relevant information is captured and analyzed. All analytics must also be saved for future reference. With a combination of constant monitoring and historical analytics, IT is able to easily review network performance and identify trends over time. This supports IT in proactively determining when a hospital needs to upgrade infrastructure - before the infrastructure severely degrades, impacting health professionals and patients.
As facilities issue travel bans and limit certain access to essential personnel, IT teams must have the ability to see into the network, identify problems, and troubleshoot issues, without being onsite. Without remote access into the entire network ecosystem, there can be a delay in resolving issues, which could ultimately cost lives.