Network Cabling in Chicago
Heathcare to Place High Demands on Wireless Networks
Wi-Fi in medical environments is rapidly tying together diverse medical operations from mobile equipment and pathology labs to doctors on the move and bedside personnel. These opportunities also mean demands on the wireless capacity and services throughout the institution. The bottom line: the medical environment is going to be increasingly data-intensive, and incoming data pipes and wireless access points will need to be sufficient for future needs far beyond current requirements.
The future will include active management of data paths and distributed capacity. Reliability in some cases may even require redundant data paths over fiber and wireless, routing based on privacy and security requirements also. Location data will be passed to track equipment and personnel for coordination of resources and more efficient operation requiring fewer redundant resources.
As the wireless infrastructure becomes vital to hospital operation, the FDA will likely become more involved in network implementation just as they are with other medical equipment. FDA requirements will affect what kinds of networking equipment and types of networks are acceptable for different services such as cardiac monitoring, imaging, messaging or real-time data transmission, even voice and video communications throughout the medical environment.
Networking infrastructure of any kind is subject to hospital engineering requirements for interfaces, installation, and power usage. For cabling or equipment, especially Wi-Fi access points, which are installed in ceiling plenum areas, infection control and other requirements of the air handling system must be observed as well. Wi-Fi signal coverage may be difficult to predict because of the unique aspects of hospital construction.
Data volumes for hospital environments require high capacity cabling to wireless access points and solid data flow to safely handle peak loads. Cabling must be installed and routed such that it is not vulnerable to damage from other activities in the cable access area. As wireless use grows, radio frequency interference from other wireless systems in use in the area must be minimized, especially in frequency bands such as 2.4 GHz, which is often shared by a variety of devices.
Due to the impact of hospital construction, wireless systems are likely to be designed for minimal disruption of the building when access points are replaced or upgraded. Cabling should meet similar requirements, with capacity that will support future needs and redundancy that will limit the need for future re-pulling of cables in the case of cable or related equipment failure.
Medical environments will increasingly depend on their wireless data infrastructure which will support nearly all activities in some way. Data flow must be high speed and reliable. An interdependent, managed mesh of access points will require a complex cabling strategy that meets hospital physical plant needs as well as supporting the goals of the IT department. If cabling is done correctly, substantial cost savings will result from keeping data wiring costs down as well as enabling the hospital to run more efficiently in its use of equipment and personnel. The cable installer will be a key player in the strategy of the hospital of the future.