Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

When medicine goes mobile: how WiFi is transforming efficiency at one NHS Trust.

January 13, 2015

I recently met with Nick Penlington, ICT Services Manager at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, to learn more about the organisation’s recent wireless network upgrade and the improvements this is having on efficiency. Here are the highlights:

TE: What prompted the decision to upgrade your wireless network?

NP: At the time of replacement our system was eight years old, and relied on hardware that was out of support. This meant that when equipment failed it was difficult to replace, and as with any ageing hardware and software, maintenance costs were rising.

The aim of the upgrade was to improve network management and boost bandwidth and coverage – this would help boost battery life and avoid call-drop out on our WiFi phone solution. We were also looking to reduce the space taken up by controller hardware in the data centres as the modern equipment is far more compact.

TE: Why did you opt for a Cisco network? What business advantages were there?

NP: Flexibility and the ability to easily integrate were big draws for us, and Cisco’s management options were more refined than their competitors. The proposed network solution was also able to support secure guest networking and voice over WLAN to a high standards-based quality.

TE: What advantages are you seeing with the new system?

NP: The upgrade has really helped with our aim of improving communication, efficiency and patient care within the hospital buildings. We can now support 802.11a 5GHz frequency, which has a wider bandwidth and gives us the ability to prioritise who shares that bandwidth. This means that staff are more efficient because their connections are faster and more reliable.

The project has significantly improved our staff’s ability to communicate on-the-go across devices, meaning that medical staff can contact each other instantly wherever they are with less effort. This is integral to providing excellent patient care. It’s also brought on board staff previously reticent about taking on new technology because they can clearly see the benefits and enjoy using the solutions.

What’s more, we’ve been able to achieve our aim of reducing the space taken up by server hardware in the data centre – the older system could handle 200 Wireless Access Points (WAP) per controller, whereas the new one provides support for up to 2,500 WAPs on one device. This has enabled us to go from 12 boxes to just four. In short, we’re really happy with the benefits we’re seeing so far.

TE: Great to hear that, Nick. It’s clear that optimal WiFi capability really has been central to transforming efficiency at the Trust. Thanks for your time.

Leave a comment