Vermont Hospital Implements Context-Aware Aruba Mobile Wireless Network

Aruba Networks' MOVE wireless architecture allows Rutland Medical Center in Vermont to maintain awareness of patient conditions using biomedical devices.

Vermont's Rutland Regional Medical Center is using the Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture from Aruba Networks to better manage its wireless connectivity and support its health care IT applications.

The 188-bed Rutland health center is Vermont's second-largest hospital and is located in the state's prime skiing area.

MOVE enables Rutland's use of Cerner electronic health record (EHR) applications and allows the hospital to employ biometric devices to monitor patients' conditions remotely.

With the growing trend toward using smartphones and tablets on WiFi networks, hospitals are making a shift from a port-centric network to a mobility-centric approach, according to Michael Catrini, director of information systems and infrastructure for Rutland.

"Rutland is among the many innovative health care organizations that have realized a need to shift away from a port-centric model for mobility to achieve their application performance requirements in an often challenging care setting," Manish Rai, Aruba's head of industry solutions marketing, said in a statement.

Aruba announced Rutland's deployment of MOVE on Sept. 12.

Rutland switched from a Cisco WiFi network to Aruba's MOVE architecture due to a lack of visibility of traffic on the Cisco network, radio interference and a lack of network-management capabilities. In addition, the hospital wanted to reduce the cost of ownership and operation.

Aruba's MOVE technology provides more network transparency as doctors log in remotely, the vendor reports.

With the amount of mobile devices growing in the hospital, MOVE was a better fit for Rutland, according to Aruba. The facility uses MOVE to manage large numbers of smartphones and tablets, as well as Ascom and Honeywell communications and location-tracking devices. Honeywell's Dolphin 9900 handheld device scans a patient's wristband and matches it to barcodes on medication bottles. The scanning adds patient safety and reduces manual entry, Catrini told eWEEK.

Rutland also uses Aruba's AirWave management and security software to measure where the high traffic areas are in the hospital without having to go there using a laptop's own wireless spectrum, Catrini said.

"If you suddenly get a huge influx of people sitting in the ED [emergency department] waiting room, that can really put a high stress load on that corner of the wireless system," Catrini noted. "The AirWave management software allows us to see that happening."

The context-aware capabilities of MOVE and the AirWave software can make sure WiFi traffic from smartphones and tablets doesn't conflict with the medical monitoring equipment.

Aruba's Remote Access Point (RAP) allowed Rutland to save money over a dedicated leased connection, Catrini said.

Rutland has turned to the MOVE architecture to monitor wireless biomedical equipment more efficiently, Catrini explained. The hospital can install a wireless card in the ventilator system so the respiratory therapist can be alerted faster than if an alarm sounded, which would require a voice call, he said.

MOVE also allows biomedical gear to take priority over other traffic on the network, according to Catrini.

"We can guarantee a higher level of patient safety and monitoring even if that bed was rolled down the hallway and went through an area where there were 15 different people with smartphones surfing the Web," he said.

Rutland also decided to go with Aruba's wireless technology to allow it to connect its network with small provider facilities of one or two physicians, Catrini said.

"One of the inhibiting factors before was the cost of bringing a one- or two-physician office online," he explained. "To give them full access to all the systems in our main facility really requires expensive dedicated T1s and a lot of expensive equipment on either end of it."

The RAP 5 architecture enables the hospital to save several thousand dollars on its setup of a cable modem and RAPs with five network ports, according to Catrini. Rutland is able to deploy a RAP 5 in about an hour, he said.

"Now we can do it for a thousand bucks, including the computer, and maybe $50 to $60 a month for a business-class cable modem," Catrini said. "That's the whole suite."