Is Enterprise-class WiFi an Oxymoron?

I have never launched a point of care application on wireless devices that has not had immediate and ongoing problems.  Usually the problems are enough to be annoying but not severe enough to scrap the initiative.  Even the highly paid outside network engineers can’t seem to provide me the flawless wireless connectivity that the vendors and trade journals lead me to believe is possible.

Recently I spoke to a group of hospitals on behalf of a consulting friend of mine.  As part of that favor I reviewed a short assessment of each of the 4 hospitals.  All of them had three things in common with our 14 hospitals:

  1. They all cited medication scanning at the point of administration as their top clinical priority.  Our three Affinity hospitals in the Fox valley have implemented this and the others want to join them.
  2. They all cited frustrations with their Carts on Wheels (aka COWs).  I too have yet to find the perfect choice.
  3. They all cited frustrations with wifi reliability in their clinical areas.

I suppose misery loves company.  How did we all buy-in to this enterprise wireless disappointment?

What is your experience?  Does anyone have the secret code?

2 thoughts on “Is Enterprise-class WiFi an Oxymoron?

  1. It happens that I have experience on both fields that is, Hospital software and Wireless networks (long story), but the thing is, there’s a mismatch between the two, the way apps are made and this kind of networks. Wireless nets can’t provide a completely flawless mode because of its medium, and apps are build using the wired mentality, that is, the net works perfect all the time. So the solution is that apps should be build with “retrys in mind”, sort to speak, in fact, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Is the same with load balancing, you can do it regardless of the app, but if the app it’s “conscious” of that, it going to perform a lot better.

  2. 1-2-3, yep those apply here too.
    COW’s, C5 tablets, Vocera badges, glucose meters, probably RFID soon too. You get an unruly situation when you mix the business demands, the expectations, the devices, the applications, the security concerns, the availability and the clinical work flow.
    We have used auto-initiating Cisco VPN clients for wireless security and now are implementing WPA2 with digital certs. This looks real promising.
    We are a Citrix shop so Citrix buffers wireless connectivity issues.
    We are broadcasting ssids, that seems to help.
    We are putting in additional wireless access points in a voice model and implementing LWAPP for management. This helps too.

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