Aruba Wireless Network Quadruples Lorien Health Services’ WiFi Speed

Lorien Health Services recently replaced its network with a Mobile First network from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)’s Aruba. The deployment allowed it to quadruple its WiFi speed — from about 50 megabits to between 800 megabits and 1 gigabit — and, in turn, improve quality of care for patients.

Lorien is a Maryland-based, family-owned organization that provides health care to seniors. The organization also offers telehealth and telemedicine remote care and secure video conferencing. Telehealth includes in-home services delivered through a remote communication system. This allows doctors and nurses to monitor patients’ blood pressure and oxygen levels, as well as provide video calling and medication reminders. Telemedicine, provided at some Lorien locations, allows doctors at the Emergency Department at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center to remotely monitor patients via streaming video in an exam room.

“All that requires wireless and bandwidth,” said Michael Bowman, network engineer at Lorien Health Services.

The legacy WiFi frequently dropped connections, which meant that when patients hit their call buttons, the facilities’ nurses were not always alerted. This also meant staff members’ iPads couldn’t immediately access patients’ medical information in real time.

“Movie-happy” residents streaming Netflix presented capacity issues. Additionally, the old network slowed Lorien’s adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) since it couldn’t easily and reliably connect new devices such as EKG monitors and HVAC systems.

“Anything you can think of that was a wireless problem, we had,” Bowman said. “We had brick-and-morter issues, deployment issues, user issues. Everything you wanted to do on the network was bottleneck and congestion. And these facilities weren’t really designed for networking, some sites are from 1977. We had fiber running into the buildings, so we’d taken over the janitor closets.”

After evaluating other products from vendors including Aerohive, Lorien chose Aruba. It deployed about 400 Aruba access points, along with Aruba Mobility Controllers and AirWave Network Management.

“I needed the ease of network access, radius authentication, and a firewall level at each access point,” Bowman said. “We monitor for access control lists, we throttle our guest network, and we’ve conquered a lot of the coverage issues just by using heat maps and proper placement.”

Working with the Aruba team, “we did an entire building with an entire controller upgrade and moved to more router sites in a day,” he added.

In addition to quadrupling the WiFi speed, the new wireless network improves access to internal and external cloud-based clinical applications, such as Lorien’s CareTracker app to turn an iPad into a phone, allowing caregivers to place calls between rooms, floors, and different Lorien facilities. The organization has also expanded its IoT efforts, connecting security cameras, HVAC, and thermostat systems for more automated usage, and wireless devices to monitor patients such as EKG devices.

In the future, Lorien plans to deploy Aruba ClearPass for device authentication. This security software provides network access control and policy management. It profiles bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and IoT users and devices, enabling automated attack response.

This is important because of the “sheer number of devices on the network,” said Rick Reid, Aruba’s lead for healthcare marketing. “You have all these different devices with literally hundreds of different manufacturers, and you have to ensure that they are only doing what they are supposed to be doing. A classic example is the Target breach. They came in through the HVAC system and ended up getting into the billing system.”

Bowman said while Lorien already has “multiple layers of authentication,” ClearPass will provide an additional layer of security with the added benefit of automation. “We want to be able to authenticate devices in a set-it-and-forget-it type of environment. I’m all about the least amount of clicks.”