Fighting the LTC amenities war with superior wireless service
It's a new world for long-term care providers, and the competition is fierce. As digitally connected children search for homes for their aging baby boomer parents, a technically inclined generation themselves, LTC decision makers have found themselves actively engaged in an amenities war. One amenity game-changer is facility-wide quality, wireless coverage – from dining rooms to individual apartments.
When offering a robust network capable of providing end-to-end wireless coverage as an amenity, we recommend a system capable of adjusting to the ever changing radio frequencies in your facility. The RF fingerprint in your facility can change from day to day based on the number of people, interference from machinery such as HVAC, and rogue wireless devices brought in by guests, to name a few. A business-grade wireless system is capable of monitoring these sources of interference and making adjustments to the network to continue to provide a positive user experience.
Beyond coverage, you need a system able to support the capacity your customers/residents require. For example, Netflix alone can take up to 25Mbps of download in Ultra HD quality and 5Mbps in HD quality per user. With current internet download, speeds are hovering around 100Mbps; being able to identify programs like Netflix and throttle the amount of available bandwidth needed is critical to ensuring a suitable wireless network for all users.
Another reason to highlight bandwidth management is, if three residents are streaming Netflix at 25Mbps and your caregiver is trying to access a resident's medical records it could compromise the speed and reliability, negatively impacting their ability to provide care. This can be avoided by implementing the tools and software packages to manage your network correctly.
Your network is much more than the wireless access points that mount on the ceiling, they all connect back to the switches, routers and firewalls that make up your network and provide these valuable amenities. Proper planning and communication will allow these systems to work together to deliver the desired customer experience, co-existing with the core business systems you require to run your facility. Most residents are coming from a single home environment where the wireless only needs to support a couple of Wi-Fi devices. Thus, users won't have patience for services that don't perform; a little planning can go a long way.
Be prepared to answer questions about how you envision the wireless being used.
- Do you expect there to be dense areas of use, such as a community room?
- What type of applications will be utilized?
- Do you need to limit the number of bandwidth users can consume by application type?
- Do you need to support tablets and other mobile devices used by family members?
- How do you want residents and guests to authenticate on the network?
How will the staff use it?
- Will they need access to specific web pages from tablets or mobile devices?
- Will they have Wi-Fi phones, mobile med carts or Real Time Locating devices used in providing care?
There will be many more questions once you start to look at your specific needs and requirements.
It's important to find the right technology partner with the tools and experience to retrofit your existing facility or work with your architect and engineering firm when building out a new space.
Adam Baer is the Director of IT Services at Tech Electronics, where he has worked for nine years.