I would bet you’ve had a discussion about WiFi recently and that it wasn’t a very positive conversation.
It’s a hot topic in senior living and long-term care these days, often because it’s a major source of frustration. But it doesn’t have to be.
Enterprise grade wireless is the only option any senior care community should be considering these days, in my opinion, and here’s why: Your future depends on it.
That may sound like an exaggeration, but consider the technology investments, the people and the outcomes relying on it. Regulatory requirements, the push toward greater efficiency and mobility, staff retention and resident safety and satisfaction are just a few of the challenges on your plate — and all are linked to successful technology implementations in some manner.
The truth is, wireless infrastructure in the senior care sector is sometimes an afterthought, when it really should be a starting point for success.
Clearing up misconceptions
First let’s get past a common misunderstanding — that wireless infrastructure for business purposes is really expensive. There are affordable ways to get the stable, secure WiFi you need. Look around; there are solutions and payment options out there that can meet your needs and your budget.
Second, is the time, effort and expense for enterprise WiFi really worthwhile? In a word? Absolutely.
As more communities adopt mobile technology to provide better care and enhance quality of life, ignoring the need for better network infrastructure won’t serve you well long term. When it comes to staff and their needs, technology adoption will not succeed when coverage is spotty and unreliable.
In a recent McKnights Senior Living article, industry experts also discussed the growing expectations of tech-savvy residents. Baby boomers making the transition to senior living aren’t going to accept anything less than the technology and innovation they currently enjoy at home. Their families, often involved in senior living decisions, also come with their own expectations and assumptions. Features such as resident WiFi are quickly becoming a major differentiator.
Enterprise versus consumer WiFi
All senior living and long-term care communities, regardless of their size, should have enterprise grade wireless network infrastructure. You can’t afford not to. The differences between enterprise and consumer WiFi:
- Business needs are different. Consumer-grade wireless is less expensive for a reason. Consumer packages just don’t offer the same infrastructure or level of service that enterprise does.
- The right equipment. Senior communities of any size need better coverage than an average household. Enterprise grade offerings include superior hardware, processing power, visibility into what is happening on your network, and advanced troubleshooting capabilities.
- Capacity. Enterprise solutions are designed to accommodate an increased number of devices connecting to the network.
- Expertise. You need infrastructure setup expertise that considers the unique qualities of each facility and tailors a solution to your needs — not a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all offering.
- Security. Security is critically important when it comes to electronic health records and resident privacy. Improper or inadequate network design can lead to security risks and data leakage. Enterprise vendors embed security protocols directly into equipment like access points for example.
Whether your community is an independent, part of a large chain or somewhere in between, the fact remains, the quality and security of your wireless network can make or break the outcomes and objectives you are aiming to achieve. And regardless of your community size or level of technology sophistication, there are good enterprise wireless solutions out there for you.
For more information on overcoming common WiFi struggles and the benefits of enterprise wireless solutions, check out this recorded webinar.
Mark McIntyre is the executive vice president and general manager for CareWorx, a senior care technology provider specializing in managed end-user devices (mobile, point-of-care, eMAR), 24×7 IT support and services and wireless solutions.