US Healthcare Provider Builds Clinical Wireless “Express Lane”

An award-winning healthcare provider took advantage of native CBRS support on Apple iPhones on a Celona network.

Introduction

An award-winning healthcare provider in the US took advantage of native private spectrum, specifically CBRS LTE band 48, compatibility on Apple iPhones by implementing a private mobile network to support clinical staff connectivity for critical-care needs. Let’s look at some of the traditional connectivity issues the health provider experienced in the past and how those deficiencies led to the deployment of a more robust and cost-effective Celona private LTE wireless network.

To learn how Apple iPhones can easily be onboarded to a Celona network, please see our configuration guide posted here.

Enabling predictable wireless performance for healthcare apps

The healthcare field is increasingly moving clinical applications and communication tools to smartphone-based apps. The reason for this is simple; doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who are constantly on the move want a single device to:

  • access patent health related applications and databases,
  • communicate using voice and text-based software, and
  • document patient care by way of photos and audio/video recordings that are uploaded to backend healthcare servers.
Instead of healthcare workers carrying multiple devices, a better and more cost-effective approach is to leverage smartphones that can serve as multi-function clinician tools.

Wanting to achieve this goal, the healthcare provider’s IT department purchased just over 900 iPhone SE smartphones for clinical use across the hospital campus. The smartphones remain solely within hospital facilities and are checked in/out by staff during their shift.

While the campus-deployed Wi-Fi network was an obvious method to connect the smartphone devices to the hospital enterprise network, the provider’s IT department was concerned about:

  • poor Wi-Fi signal strength in critical-care areas,
  • high latency during roaming between Wi-Fi access points,
  • no way to strictly enforce latency metrics for clinical care apps beyond voice QoS,
  • concerns around sharing the Wi-Fi network with non-clinical needs such as guest / patient and cafeteria / gift shop access.

Choosing a stable and secure private LTE / 5G platform

Healthcare IT decision makers soon concluded that a CBRS powered private LTE network might be the ideal path forward to enable an express lane of connectivity for staff-operate Apple iPhones.

Considering the increasing cost of network downtime in healthcare now surpasses $7,000 per minute, on average, achieving an ROI on a more robust wireless deployment would prove easy to justify.

Additionally, it stood to reason that the need for wireless connectivity throughout the hospital campus would continue to rise and included a likely increase in wireless-connected patient room technologies, physical security devices and health safety IoT sensors.

The increased reliance critical-care wireless connectivity led to the decision that a more reliable and secure wireless network would better ensure the success of the smartphone device rollout in addition to future expansion of healthcare and physical safety IoT.

Since the clinical care application required on-premises data forwarding, public carrier connectivity was quickly ruled out as an option. The healthcare provider also could not risk transmitting HIPAA regulated protected health information across a third-party managed wireless network. However, the Celona private LTE/5G wireless network provided an excellent technology platform consisting of precise levels of carrier-grade performance, reliability, local network support and data privacy.

Celona network creates an “express lane” for clinician wireless traffic

After further research, the healthcare provider found it abundantly clear that operating a Celona-powered private LTE/5G network on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum was the absolute correct answer to their wireless needs from both a reliability and data security perspective.

The concept was simple; a Celona private mobile network would be deployed within the hospital network as an overlay and integrated directly into the existing healthcare network to provide highly reliable coverage with far fewer signal dead spots in critical areas - and by using clean, interference-free spectrum.

Because the Apple iPhone SE natively supports CBRS connectivity out of the box, IT staff simply installed Celona SIM cards into each of the clinician phones, providing SIM-based security while also ensuring that all data transmitted and received would be safely contained within the healthcare network.

Additionally, healthcare IT staff created granular Celona MicroSlicing™ policies to ensure quality of service (QoS) for the clinical care app and specifically the voice communications. Celona’s patent-pending MicroSlicing technology offered administrators the ability to carve out dedicated packet error rate and latency policies at a granular level for mission-critical data flows. Thus, healthcare workers are given a logical “express lane” on the Celona network so that modern, latency sensitive clinical apps do not have to fight for precious network resources in highly-utilized wireless environments.

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