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Baptist Health

Baptist Health boosts network reliability, speed, wireless coverage

A significant upgrade at Baptist Health — a 749-bed health network in Montgomery, Alabama — made the Cerner ITWorks℠ client’s information system faster and more reliable.

The multi-phase project, completed February 2016, enables the next generation of network-intensive technology solutions — such as mobile vitals collection, infusion pump integration, patient monitoring and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Importantly, the improvements helped Baptist Health’s wireless network system moved from a capacity of 11 megabits to 433 megabits — the equivalent of being 39 times faster.

“We appreciate all of the work that went into this project and how smooth the actual implementation was,” said Kathy Gaston, RN, MSN, chief nursing officer, Baptist Medical Center East. “The faster system has helped us increase overall satisfaction, as families and friends can stay connected while visiting loved ones — a change from the past, when the connection was spotty.”

Before implementation, Baptist Health experienced six unplanned downtimes a year. Cabling was dated, the old wireless system ran on 10-year-old technology, and wireless coverage was unreliable. 

With the implementation of Network Assurance, a comprehensive approach to assessing, designing and deploying the network within the organization, Baptist Health saw a nearly 100 percent increase in reliability with just one instance of unscheduled downtime.1

The $7.5 million project, which addressed clinical, technological, infrastructure and business needs, included five campuses with multiple buildings. Implementation included 15,000 feet of fiber optic cable, 50,000 feet of Ethernet cable, four new next-generation core switches and 300 edge switches.

The enhanced switches improve the ability to travel the hospital without drops, while allowing more devices to connect. Drops occur when the routers cannot get a signal and devices quit communicating with the network — which causes headaches for staff and patients.

The project also involved more than 90 wiring closets and 1,100 access points. This increased the wireless coverage by more than 20 percent, which makes the organization’s network more reliable.

“Having staff consistently connected is vital to providing quality patient care,” Gaston said. “The reduction in network outages is very important for our staff and patients, and we are now enjoying the positive outcomes from the efficiency.”

1 Between implementation in February 2016 and February 2017

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.