Health Technologies

New generations of Wi-Fi are driving innovation in the digital healthcare industry

Digital healthcare isn’t the future – it’s here now.

The latest technological trends defining healthcare – from distributed care to patient self-service and telehealth adoption – are possible because of technologies such as Wi-Fi 6E, and soon, Wi-Fi 7.

IT decision-makers at hospitals and clinics are often trying to balance multiple things at once when it comes to Wi-Fi.

They need to ensure peak performance for bandwidth-heavy medical applications like those used to transmit x-ray images, which need to be delivered at the highest resolution possible to make sure diagnoses are accurate and patients receive the best possible care.

Meanwhile, patients expect to be able to connect their personal devices to the network and talk to friends and family or stream content.

Trying to allow for all this at once can put huge strain on the Wi-Fi network – and with patient care on the line, it’s critical for the network to prioritise the medical data while providing an excellent guest experience.

              Doug McDonald

This is easier said than done, but with the right network architecture can be achieved.

Luckily, advances in Wi-Fi technology such as Wi-Fi 6E are helping the healthcare industry to address these challenges and move beyond them, so that they can continue to innovate to improve care and get patients back to the comfort of their own homes more quickly.

How is Wi-Fi 6E advancing healthcare?

All patient care facilities require a well architected and stable connection in order to provide the best patient care while minimising network delays or outages.

Meanwhile, medical applications are becoming more and more sophisticated, and the number of different devices that need to connect to the network continues to grow at astounding rates.

Properly onboarding this innovative technology means patient care is constantly improving, but it also means hospitals and other healthcare facilities need more network bandwidth and wireless spectrum to adequately meet the demands of the organisation.

Wi-Fi 6E has unlocked 1,200 MHz of new greenfield 6GHz spectrum, which will help facilitate healthcare’s continued adoption of innovative technology by providing the next generation of dedicated connectivity for devices and applications.

Not only does it have more bandwidth and speed, it’s also not backwards compatible.

This means there is greater security when it comes to data crossing, and fewer bottlenecks occur from slower traffic at the same time, because traffic from older devices is entirely separated.

The additional bandwidth could enable organisations to use mesh networking to eliminate coverage gaps on healthcare campuses and ensure there are no areas where patient care might be disrupted by a loss of connection.

The extra bandwidth and lower latency also means that older, legacy devices can benefit as well as new and improved ones.

Access points will be able to support multiple Wi-Fi versions, so data can be communicated over one Wi-Fi band and then backhauled via another.

Better education for healthcare professionals (and patients)

Extending the innovation even further, Wi-Fi 6E will revolutionise training for healthcare professionals.

High bandwidth applications such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will go from science fiction to reality.

Underpinned by Wi-Fi 6E, these applications can be used within the facility to simulate realistic scenarios that clinicians might encounter in the course of patient care.

This gives them real-world experience without putting the health of patients at risk.

This doesn’t only work one way.

Applications could also be used to better educate patients about potential procedures, to help them make more informed choices about their health, or give them a better idea of what to expect.

It can also be used to provide them with a more in-depth education before discharge, to encourage them to comply with healthcare advice even after they have left the four walls of the healthcare facility.

Network as a strategic healthcare asset

Advances in Wi-Fi technology will continue to be a good thing for healthcare.

Not only can it help save on costs, cause less disruption, and help provide a better standard of care, but it is also helping IT professionals within healthcare settings to have much more visibility and control over the entire network and make sure it is functioning optimally across the board.

This in turn allows IT teams and organizational administrators to start pulling strategic insights from the network.

Through cloud networking and analytics, healthcare establishments can predict potential issues and proactively mitigate them before they become actual problems.

Analysing application performance and adjusting traffic as necessary to reroute bandwidth to the most mission-critical apps will ensure the highest level of patient care.

Measuring things such as foot traffic in waiting rooms will help in planning logistics such as when and where to deploy staff to keep waiting times down and not overwhelm employees and facilities.

Through network analytics, Wi-Fi 6E is helping the network become a strategic asset rather than simply an essential technology, enabling healthcare organisations to make better, more informed operational decisions that improve patient care.



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