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Digital Transformation in Healthcare Facilities: An ICT Infrastructure Guide

by Teddi Strassburger on March 25, 2021

healthcare - computers - blogThe world of Healthcare technology is rapidly changing and has already seen an incredible evolution in the past few years. From advanced and at-home telehealth capabilities to remote field facilities and wearable health tracking devices, patients and Healthcare staff are demanding new ways to interact and manage health. IT professionals are faced with the daunting task of keeping up with not only the Internet of Things (IoT), but with the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) now too. As if that wasn't enough, regulations around patient medical records and billing continue to change, and the technology employed in medical facilities has to be able to keep up and plan for the future. 

Diagnosing the challenges of bandwidth, privacy and security that come with these new technologies and demands isn't easy. When treating and protecting patients with the latest life-saving technologies is the top objective, so too must be delivering and supporting real-time connectivity 24/7. Throughout its 30-year history of powering and protecting technology investments, Chatsworth Products (CPI) has provided countless hospital systems, Healthcare facilities and other medical IT professionals with the critical information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure needed to help ensure quality care, record keeping and more.

Whether you're looking to design a new facility, budget a retrofit project or deploy medical equipment in a temporary hospital, there are so many considerations to keep in mind. Below, CPI dives into their guide to selecting critical information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure. From 5G to IoT and IoMT, this guide gives you an overview of how the digital transformation of Healthcare facilities can improve patient care. 

The Digital Hospital Requires Intelligent Power Management

As mission-critical facilities, hospitals must be designed to stay operational even during natural disasters and other emergencies. With so much processing power demand to operate medical equipment and biotech devices, it’s important to monitor and manage server equipment so that issues can be prevented before they result in downtime. It’s also important to consider how intelligent power management solutions can integrate with Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software to provide a complete lens into the overall health of assets. Start by looking at the hardware. In this case:

Rack power distribution units (PDUs):

  • Monitor and control each piece of equipment to visualize over- and under-utilized equipment
  • Remotely reboot hung equipment
  • Meet regulatory compliance per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) by integrating intelligent capabilities with electronic access control
Next, consider the DCIM software:
  • Centrally manage and control PDUs to understand overall data center health
  • Test failover capability of the data center without having to flatline the power chain
  • Identify spikes, prevent potential power issues and maximize uptime

High-Performing Compute Requires Strong Support

Whether located in the data center, distributed throughout the medical campus or in outdoor locations, advanced equipment must be protected and stored with strength and reliability.

For on-premise data centers:

  • Optimize operations with a cabinet that supports equipment, cable and airflow management, intelligent power distribution, environmental monitoring, physical security and system optimization
  • Simplify deployment with faster built-to-order configurability, industry-leading strength and scalability
  • Improve energy efficiency with a build-to-spec aisle containment solution that’s flexible enough to adapt to future growth 

Wireless Infrastructure for 5G and Beyond Paves the Path for the IoMT

The positioning and installation of wireless access points (APs) mean wireless networks play a crucial role in the delivery of key information to clinicians and patients, from the IoMT to patient monitoring, coordinated care, appointment scheduling, payment systems and more. The most desired location of small cell and wireless AP deployment is ceiling mounting, as it offers the greatest coverage and performance. That said, the adoption of new methods of ceiling-mount installations is proving to be significant in terms of offering quick-turnaround, serviceability, consistency and reducing the need to access the above-ceiling space for maintenance or technology upgrades.

Assessing the Risks

As construction begins again for new or renovated Healthcare buildings, the emphasis on infectious disease control measures is greater than ever. Ceiling penetrations for the deployment of antennas, cables, fiber-optic cabling, radios and other components are critical, as improper installations introduce the opportunity for airborne pathogens to travel from the above-ceiling space to the patient space. A robust wireless infrastructure must meet the demand for data from medical staff, patients, and visitors; most importantly, it ensures the physical well-being of more vulnerable patients. Consider:

  • Dust, mold, and fungal spores found in the space above a suspended ceiling are a serious threat to immunosuppressed and other at-risk patients.
  • Preventing the movement of infectious materials between the above-ceiling space and occupied areas means avoiding holes and gaps in ceiling tiles for cable egress to Real Time Location System (RTLS) equipment or small cell AP antennas.
  • Lifting ceiling tiles often requires tenting and HEPA filters to be constructed around the work area – a costly and disruptive undertaking.
  • The number of wireless devices required within a facility, both medical and personal, will continue to increase.

How to determine the method of physical network deployment:

  • Ceiling mounts are ideal for wireless APs, RTLS equipment, and small APs. Consistency of installation method across a variety of equipment is preferable for physical security, aesthetic and logistical reasons.
  • Ensuring full access to the equipment and cabling without lifting the ceiling tiles reduces tenting costs and traffic disruption. This can be achieved via the use of a secure enclosure with a back-box.
  • Selecting solutions which simplify Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) procedures while providing optimal wireless coverage saves time and reduces costs in the long term. 

Protection vs. Convenience – Can You Have Both?

The short answer is yes. The benefits of having full access to wireless equipment and cabling after initial installation without needing to lift ceiling tiles are significant. This will ultimately offer significant cost savings, reduce maintenance time and prevent large disruptions to traffic flow throughout the facility.

Work with a manufacturer who can:

  • Ensure AP mounting solutions that enable effective management of wireless system and edge components and are compliant with ICRA guidelines
  • Offer enclosures that enable easy access to the AP and cabling without the need to open the ceiling space, stow excess cable service loop and prepare the AP location for quick and easy future technology upgrades
  • Offer effective airflow with vented doors for natural convention heat transfer without fans

Ensuring Security

When planning for physical security, select an enclosure that ensures:

  • Data produced at the edge remains private and secured
  • Only authorized people have access to equipment and can deploy an access control system with alarm notifications
  • Automated logging of who and when equipment is accessed

Thermal Management

The sealed design of industrial enclosures does not allow for needed ventilation, so a filter fan or cooling unit is an important requirement to exhaust or reject heat from the enclosure in order to maintain the equipment manufacturer’s temperature operating range. Work with a manufacturer who can supply preinstalled, integrated thermal management that is rated to match or exceed the enclosure rating.

Plan and Deploy Your Networks with Confidence. Protect and Treat Your Patients with Certainty.

Regardless of where you’re at in your project planning, or what’s driving a change in how you deliver patient care, simply getting started can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to start with evaluating and selecting a partner you can trust, one who has the experience, expertise and total ICT infrastructure solution offering you can depend upon as you work together to deliver and support reliable network connectivity across your healthcare facility.

Chatsworth Products is that partner. From conception to installation and beyond, you’ll realize minimized project complexity as you deploy your networks, while at the same time, you’ll protect and treat your patients with a new level of certainty. Learn more by contacting your local Accu-Tech representative

Topics: CPI healthcare chatsworth IoMT

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