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Assuring Reliable Wi-Fi Networking for Healthcare Providers

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2020-11-Blog-Wi-Fi-Healthcare-2

Wi-Fi coverage and cybersecurity becomes mission critical for patient care and workflows. Read how rigorous testing ensures reliable Healthcare provider networks and secure Wi-Fi connectivity to prevent services interruptions.

In a previous blog, we discussed the various benefits Wi-Fi 6 is offering healthcare providers. In this sequel, get a closer look at Wi-Fi device and network testing considerations for this sector.


Testing Healthcare Provider Networks and Devices

Compliance to local regulations, such as FDA 510k certification and IEEE/ANSI Wi-Fi C63.27 standard in the US, require medical device manufacturers to ensure the functionality and safety of their devices through rigorous testing. In addition, healthcare facilities must test their Wi-Fi network regularly to:

  • Ensure ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage and performance for the entire facility:
    Physicians and clinical staff require access to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and medical images via handheld devices or computer on wheels (COW). Pharmaceutical orders and clinical procedures are also carried out wirelessly to help make workflows more efficient, all of which requires reliable Wi-Fi networking.

  • On-board a wide range of wireless devices:
    Hospital beds, infusion pumps, ventilators and many other devices send life-saving alarms to patient monitoring stations over the Wi-Fi network. Their continuous operation is essential regardless of Wi-Fi network congestion or unwanted RF interference.

  • Reproduce field conditions and modeling “what if” scenarios:
    Healthcare facilities are built with inhomogeneous wall structures for operating rooms, X-ray rooms, patient wards and visitor lobbies. Using advanced tools in a laboratory, RF characteristics of a hospital along with potential interference sources can be modeled to test out range and roaming functionality under varying conditions, prior to installation of Access Points.

  • Assure service performance and QoE for end-users:
    The Wi-Fi network of healthcare facilities serves a wide range of use cases for physicians, clinical staffs, patients, and visitors. While physicians need access to critical healthcare applications that require high bandwidth, patients and visitors require convenient access to Wi-Fi network using BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) without compromising the network security.

  • Test network security and vulnerability:
    To ensure a safe wireless and wired network throughout the entire facility.

A joint cybersecurity advisory, coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was issued on Oct 28, 2020, and shared the following findings:

  • Malicious cyber actors are targeting the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector with TrickBot and BazarLoader malware, often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services.

  • These issues will be particularly challenging for organizations within the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, administrators will need to balance this risk when determining their cybersecurity investments.

Similar concerns were echoed by the INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock in early 2020:

Quotes

As hospitals and medical organizations around the world are working non-stop to preserve the well-being of individuals stricken with coronavirus, they have become targets for ruthless cybercriminals looking to make a profit at the expense of sick patients.

Unfortunately, there has been an increased number of cases, which resulted in various forms of services interruptions at hospitals and clinics, even to an extent that critically ill patients had to be re-routed to other facilities, globally. With this backdrop, it is more vital than ever that healthcare providers assess their network’s vulnerability, perform network penetration testing, including compliance testing of Wi-Fi security protocols (e.g. WPA3, WPA2) and web authentication like secured use of Captive Portals.

Assuring Reliable and Secure Connectivity for Healthcare Providers

As Wi-Fi coverage becomes mission critical for patient care and workflows, it is important to ensure healthcare provider Wi-Fi networks are up to the tasks. Yet improving and optimizing Wi-Fi network and device performance for unique healthcare provider deployment scenarios can be complex.

Learn about the latest test solutions for Wi-Fi turn up services and solutions specifically designed with healthcare providers in mind, including emulating hospital environments in a lab.

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Abu Islam
Abu Islam

Director of Business Development, Wi-Fi Test and Measurement Solutions

Abu Islam is currently serving as Director of Business Development, Wi-Fi Test and Measurement Solutions for Spirent’s Cloud and IP Business Unit. He has over two decades of global P&L leadership, business development, product management and professional services experience in the telecommunication industry. Previously, Abu worked at Ericsson Inc. for eight years in various leadership roles, managing and growing their wireless and wireline products and services business. He also worked for Nortel Networks for fourteen years, leading their Engineering and Operations teams responsible for turn-key network deployment for US wireless operators. Abu holds an MBA from the University of Dallas (UD) and an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).