Setting Up Wi-Fi in a Medical Center: Testing

Published on March 3, 2016

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Welcome to our final post in the Setting Up Wi-Fi in a Medical Center series. So far in this five part series we have covered steps 1-4 of how to successfully set up a secure and reliable Wi-Fi network in medical environments. Be sure to check out the previous posts which cover: Performing a Site Survey, Positioning APs, Setting Up the Network, and Security.

Testing the Network

Testing of the network is a required step when:

  • Initially setting up the network
  • A new device is added
  • A new version of device code is written
  • Any of the physical attributes of the original site survey change

A test should check for channel overlap, security breaks, or lapse in coverage. If anything in a network changes or is scheduled to change, it must be tested before being implemented.

In order to properly test a network, a test bed should be created using a separate test VLAN on each AP in the hospital. With this setup, testing can be performed in the actual environment of the network without compromising the overall network. This is the most accurate test method and, therefore, will better reveal any potential problems that might occur with a full deployment of the particular change being tested.

When initially setting up a hospital network, after the site survey is performed and the APs are placed according to the site survey, the network must be tested. Testing in the actual hospital environment will show the exact problem areas that might not have been discovered in the original site survey. This testing can then be added to that original site survey to better optimize the network.

Before a new device is integrated into the network, and even before it is tested, the use case for that specific device should be decided. Once the use case is determined, then the device should be tested in that use case. For example, if the new device is a patient monitor that is stationary in a recovery room, it should be tested under those parameters. It would hardly make sense to test a stationary patient monitor for a specific room in a disparate area of the hospital with a different RF environment. Plus each different device must be tested under its specific use-case parameters. For instance, a heart rate monitor should not be tested in the same way as a mobile computer.

For the full five step process, download the Setting Up Wi-Fi Infrastructure in a Medical Center white paper.