How to Provide Fast, Secure Wi-Fi in Your Health Care Organization

Patients and hospital visitors have come to expect Wi-Fi internet access. It’s no longer seen as an extra convenience, but a requirement for the comfort and confidence of your patients. That said, it’s your responsibility to provide reliable Wi-Fi access that is reasonably fast, secure and easy to sign in to.

Your Main Hospital Wireless Network Needs to be Locked Down
First of all, your main office Wi-Fi cannot be used for guest access. The same network your computers, tablets, laptops and other equipment run on needs to be completely segregated from the rest of the traffic and secure. This might be pretty obvious for most health care professionals, especially those who have an understanding of HIPAA compliance, but it’s worth mentioning because it poses such a huge security risk.

Your guest network allows anyone to log in, which means a malicious person could log in to it. This can result in serious problems if sensitive health data is accessible.

You need to ensure that your internal network is properly locked down, that the password is never given out publicly and is regularly updated. We can audit your existing network to look for vulnerabilities and shortcomings and help you meet compliance standards.

Guest Networks Don’t Necessarily Mean New Hardware
As long as the routers and access points you already have are capable, you usually don’t need to purchase additional hardware in order to establish a separate Wi-Fi network for guests. This is a huge perk. Not only are you obviously not having to purchase new equipment, but you don’t need to worry about the installation of additional hardware. Of course, if your network is older, your requirements might be a little different.

One thing to think about, is how much bandwidth your existing wireless network allows. Most modern access points can be split so bandwidth usage is segregated between staff and visitors. You’ll want to make sure the network can handle guest traffic without interfering with internal operations. You don’t want a visitor in your waiting room streaming Netflix to prevent your front desk from being able to print or access records.

It’s important to establish restrictions—not just deciding what a guest can see or do on the network, but how much bandwidth they are allocated.

Even Guests Require Policies
You don’t want to simply deploy a free-for-all network for your patients to access without setting some ground rules. You should require users to agree to terms of service, and you should definitely be able to monitor logs to detect any fraudulent activity. Depending on your practice, you may consider setting time restrictions so unauthorized users can’t access the network when your facilities are closed. We can also restrict access to certain locations to prevent access from outside your facilities.

Deploying a guest network doesn’t have to be extremely expensive, but it does require a lot more than simply enabling a feature on your wireless router. If you’d like help, we can start with a network audit and review your existing network, and help you establish the security and best practices you need to keep your visitors and patients safe and happy.