Choosing Your Path to In-Building Hospital Wireless Network Solutions.

Sponsored By: T-Mobile For Business Guest IDC Blogger: Jason Leigh, Research Manager, Mobility & 5G Services

Digital transformation has left virtually no organization untouched, including hospitals. A key part of the hospital's mission is constant and never-ending work to improve patient outcomes and operate efficiently. As a result, hospitals are increasingly asked to diagnose and treat patients wherever they are located and whenever the circumstances require. This can involve expanded use of remote patient monitoring, both within the building and at the patient's home. Rather than shuttling the patient throughout the hospital for testing and procedures, mobilizing treatment tools can reduce the risks to patients, accelerate the time to diagnosis, and maximize practitioners' availability. Mobility and connectivity are inevitable, arguably foundational, elements of the hospital DX journey and more and more are looking to invest in 4G and 5G hospital wireless connectivity to improve the overall quality of healthcare.

With 5G's potential to drive innovative, transformative use cases in healthcare, deploying robust in-building solutions to ensure the availability of high-performing, reliable wireless signals throughout the hospital is critical.

Clearly, there are benefits to utilizing cellular connectivity for greater mobility in the hospital environment. However, providing a ubiquitous, high-speed, low latency wireless (cellular or Wi-Fi) signal in a hospital setting does require a bit of forethought. Hospitals present some unique challenges for transmitting an in-building signal. Some imaging rooms are heavily shielded. The vast array of electronics, be they wired or wireless, can interfere with wireless signals, resulting in a weaker connection that fails to deliver the necessary performance for life-saving equipment to function. And signal strength and performance throughout the building for treatment or testing can vary. These are issues that face not only current generation of wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and LTE, but are exacerbated with 5G, some variations of which use mmWave spectrum that is highly susceptible to interference. With 5G's potential to drive innovative, transformative use cases in healthcare, deploying robust in-building solutions to ensure the availability of high-performing, reliable wireless signals throughout the hospital is critical.

If a hospital expects to use in-building cellular coverage for mission-critical, life-saving use cases, there is little margin for error and a proven partner can ensure that the deployed in-building solution is up to the challenge.

Despite the challenges, outfitting a hospital with robust cellular service is not a fool's errand. The important thing is for IT departments to be realistic with the boundaries of their hospital's wireless networking experience and resources.  Installing hospital Wi-Fi coverage is far from plug and play. There is both science and art that goes into the planning and modeling of signal coverage, something that few hospital IT departments have any experience with. Fortunately, there are a number of vendors with the knowledge and expertise to design, build and operate critical in-building cellular systems. If a hospital expects to use in-building cellular coverage for mission-critical, life-saving use cases, there is little margin for error and a proven partner can ensure that the deployed in-building solution is up to the challenge.

Hospitals are hardly monolithic entities. They are as diverse as the patients they serve, with different budgets, IT staffing resources and existing infrastructure. Some are contained within a single building, while others need to support treatment and operations across a multi-building campus. Urban locations are more likely to have access to high-speed mmWave 5G in hospitals, while rural areas are potentially limited to LTE and Wi-Fi. As a result of this diversity, hospitals' in-building connectivity needs are often ill-served by an off-the-shelf solution. Variable buying options are essential for giving hospitals the flexibility to build a connectivity model that fits with their unique circumstance.

Find a trusted advisor who can assess the hospital's needs and provide a roadmap to ubiquitous in-building coverage that both serves the best interest of the hospital's strategic plan and improves patient outcomes.

Fortunately, there are myriad of tools and approaches that can be deployed to ensure wireless use cases can safely and securely function anywhere within the building. Deployment models include do-it-yourself to fully outsourced and everything in between. The chosen model largely depends on existing infrastructure and digital transformation priorities. Larger hospitals already have invested in robust connectivity and simply need to supplement in-building coverage to fill coverage gaps. Some hospitals will be content to install an in-building system that supports a singular wireless carrier, while others want to bolster wireless service to patients and staff regardless of their personal choice in carriers. With serious requirements around personal healthcare data, some hospitals may prefer to deploy private cellular networks to better secure data and ensure regulatory compliance. There may be more mundane reasons for IT leaders to lean towards one route over another to build their own connectivity, such as the choice between capex versus opex.

Hospitals looking to expand the use of cellular as a high-quality, reliable means of connectivity for current and future uses across and within the campus must have flexible options for building out their hospital's wireless network coverage. It is equally important to find a trusted advisor who can assess the hospital's needs and provide a roadmap to ubiquitous in-building coverage that both serves the best interest of the hospital's strategic plan and improves patient outcomes. That advisor can also develop an agile plan that future proofs the hospital for new emergent use cases.

Message from the Sponsor
The medical industry is at an inflection point with innovative technologies that are critical for the future of healthcare. T-Mobile for Business is committed to supporting your needs with the largest 5G network – one that can scale to provide connectivity for all your patients. Learn more about T-Mobile for Business and advancements in telemedicine.

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