Slide background


A reliable Wi-Fi network is mission critical to the NHS and private healthcare providers within the UK. The sector demands a “medical-grade” WLAN with the availability and Wi-Fi performance required for critical communications and biomedical devices, because if they don’t work properly, it really can be a matter of life and death.

Unfortunately for network teams, hospitals and medical centres are some of the hardest environments in which to deploy and maintain a reliable Wi-Fi network. The resources drawn together on this page are designed to educate, inform, and inspire wireless professionals to build robust and resilient Wi-Fi, in order to improve patient care and outcomes.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Gathering Your Requirements

The first step of any wireless project is to understand the requirements (what the network needs to do) and the constraints (what the design needs to work around). Without those two things clear in everyone’s mind you will likely end up with a solution that will neither meet care giver or patient requirements and potentially adversely effect patient outcomes.

The first step of any wireless project is to understand the network requirements (what the network needs to do). These are unique to each hospital and building but they will tend to share similar requirements. For example, they will have a different set of users and devices connected on a daily basis, but the types of devices (e.g. computers on wheels, smartphones, laptops) and the need to separate the network for staff from patients and guests are common.

Fundamentally your requirements list should identify;

  • The types, numbers and throughput requirements of devices that will be using the network. This will likely include:
    • Mobile Devices & Tablet Computers
    • VoIP Phones
    • Workstations on Wheels (WoWs)
    • Communication Badges
    • Location Tracking Badges
    • IoT and Wi-Fi connected Medical Devices
  • The types of applications to be run on those devices
  • How client devices will access the network
  • The level of security that needs to be provided
  • How the network itself will be monitored and managed

These are in turn dictates by the overarching objectives of the wireless network. In a healthcare setting these are likely to be:

  • Enable staff to work flexibly and productively
  • Empower staff to provide the best possible care to patients
  • Empower patients to discover tools, resources and information about their health whilst they are in hospital
  • Provide guest Wi-Fi access for patients and visitors

It’s important to keep your stakeholders, and the high-level objectives at the centre of your subsequent Wi-Fi design decisions. Otherwise you will likely end up with a solution that doesn’t meet the their specific needs, and requires troubleshooting or even a complete re-design.


Webinar: Healthcare Wi-Fi Challenges and Considerations

In this panel discussion moderated by Jerry Olla from Ekahau, three expert guest panellists; Bryan Totten, Patrick Evans and Brian Long, share their healthcare Wi-Fi experiences, best practices and war stories.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Choosing an Access Point

Your WLAN design will fail at the first hurdle if you don’t pick the right Access Point (AP) for the job. This is why it’s important to fully understand your network requirements and design constraints before selecting an AP model to design around.

Unfortunately, most Wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) tend to pick the AP vendor and models that they are most comfortable with, not necessarily the ones most suitable to the application. Important things to consider when selecting an AP are;


If you pick the cheapest possible hardware it will most likely buckle during peak hours when the density of clients is highest. On the other hand, large enterprise APs could be overkill in certain scenarios, incurring additional up-front investment, and higher ongoing licensing costs for features that are never going to be used in practice.

Future Proofing

Most AP deployments have a typical expected lifespan of 3-5 years. Therefore, it should be the future requirements, not today’s, which drive the selection of your access points.


Generally, aesthetic constraints will dictate the selection of an indoor AP with internal antennas. External antennas, however, offer additional flexibility for mounting, along with the ability to add 3rd party antennas with particular profiles for custom applications.

Access Point Performance

In high-density areas look for access points with MU-MIMO as this allows the AP to simultaneously communicate with multiple clients in the same environment (for client devices that support the technology). This gives you a denser utilization of the channel, thus increasing total potential channel capacity and throughput per client device. The more spatial streams per radio the higher the maximum data rate.


Controllers have a heavy hardware approach, which make growth difficult and upgrades even harder. Cloud-managed Wi-Fi reduces the manpower required to maintain a controller-based architecture, and also makes it easier to manage. If you are responsible for a very large hospital, or multiple hospitals it’s likely you will want a cloud-based architecture to provide centralized visibility and control.


New or refurbished buildings tend to present the opportunity to get the latest wiring and switches, however if you are upgrading APs in an existing building the current infrastructure can have a large influence on which APs you can use. For example, you will need to check if existing Ethernet switches support the model/s of access point and their Power over Ethernet (PoE) requirements.


Security and segregation will be another primary concern with sensitive patient data traversing the network, as such look for vendors with HIPAA and GDPR compliance plus ISO27001 certification. Some APs even come equipped with a third radio, which is used as a dedicated security sensor for 24x7x365 scanning and automated over-the-air (OTA) prevention.


You might also want to look for APs with integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radios if you want to use patient and visitor wayfinding, an increasingly common feature on large hospital campuses.

Arista C-110

Arista C-110

The C-110 provides best value among high-performing, modern access points designed for cost-conscious organizations. Built using the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 chipsets, the C-110 is perfect for medium density environments looking for the high performance and advanced features of current access points without the high cost. The C-110 provides access to advanced access point features like role-based firewalls and application visibility without the high cost typically associated with Wave 2 devices. The C-110 is also a perfect fit for organizations in need of future-ready dedicated security sensors.

It also supports the iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) standard and collects massive amounts of data to support immersive guest network experiences.

Arista C-130

Arista C-130

The C-130 is the only access point that provides consistent, high performance access with automatic, over-the-air threat prevention. The C-130 removes the need to sacrifice application performance for high security, and is a must for all critical, high-density networks that expect a high volume of diverse clients with diverse needs. With its Wave 2 chipset, the C-130 takes advantage of the latest modulation and beamforming techniques that transform Wi-Fi networks and offer the speeds and reliability once thought only possible over the wire. Best of all, the C-130 offers this best-in-class performance at a similar cost to competitive 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 access points.

Arista Networks has received SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2 attestation for security, availability, and confidentiality of the Arista Cloud-managed WiFi solution. This establishes Arista as the first and only cloud Wi-Fi vendor to achieve such attestation for practices in cloud-based Wi-Fi management (SaaS).

Whitepaper: Best Wi-Fi Practices in Healthcare

This is a technical whitepaper but also a philosophical position on wireless in healthcare. Along with a great deal of useful technical information, our larger goal is to offer important insights. Greater insight yields superior results. If you’re reading anything labelled ‘whitepaper’ you obviously care enough to improve your skills and increase the value you bring to projects. To accomplish this, we first need to take you on a journey.

By taking this journey with us hopefully you will gain insight and new wisdom to approach wireless and other aspects of your job differently. Moreover, appreciating this journey and committing to tracking where it is evolving is what separates technologists from true professionals focused on creating value from their craft.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Predictive Modelling

Once you have clear design requirements and know which AP/s you will be deploying you should use a professional software package such as Ekahau Pro to create a predictive model. This involves building a mathematical model of the building by loading in a floor plan, and drawing in the exterior and interior walls, windows and doors. You need to specify what they are made of so that the unique attenuation and reflectivity characteristics of the materials can be accounted for by the software. If a CAD drawing is available, the whole process becomes much easier because Ekahau Pro will automatically draw the walls for you.

Once you have completed drawing the walls you must then enter the performance and capacity requirements of the network. You can now place your access points (Ekahau Pro has a library of the antenna patterns for most common AP vendors and models) onto the floor plan in order to see how the signal will propagate and self-interfere. You can freely move APs around and change their individual channel and transmit power settings to see how it impacts the performance of the network. You can also get Ekahau Pro to automatically place the APs and optimise the channel plan to minimize co-channel interference based upon the performance and capacity requirements you entered.

The main advantage of predictive modelling is that it’s fairly straightforward and inexpensive to do and doesn’t require a site visit. The down-side is that it uses simplified assumptions, so if the floor plan is inaccurate, or the actual building materials behave differently in the real world, the resulting design will be incorrect. However, we still recommend them because they are extremely useful when creating an initial estimate on the quantity, location, and channel and transmit power settings of your APs.

Ekahau Site Survey on Mac

Ekahau Pro

Ekahau Pro shows you where to place and how to configure your access points by accurately predicting network coverage, performance and capacity. The Ekahau Pro Auto-Planner designs the network according to your capacity requirements. Ekahau Pro also shows the overloaded APs and areas of excessive voice calls.

Case Study: NHS Lothian Improves Wi-Fi Network

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), is NHS Lothian’s single largest hospital, with 3 floors, 800+ beds, and 500 access points. The wireless design was created by an external company in 2015 and had never been validated. The NHS Lothian networking team explored the pros and cons of using an external company to perform the validation survey, or undertaking the project in-house. They needed to consider the risks, costs and outcome for both options, including the skill of the internal team and whether time would be better spent on other projects.

“We bought the solution from Ekahau because of the all-in price,” Duhre explains. “When we factored in the cost of the ESS license, Ekahau Sidekick™, a fairly high-end laptop, and associated accessories, it still only came to one-sixth of the price we were quoted by the external company.”

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Pre-deployment Survey

This is an on-site survey (sometimes called an AP on a Stick Survey) where an access point is temporarily positioned in the environment, using a wireless site survey kit such as the HiveRadar. You would normally place the AP in the same locations as on your predictive model because you can then use your actual attenuation measurements to refine the model.

You will most likely find third party Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi devices in the area which conflict with your proposed channel plan. Your findings can then be used to amend your design to avoid this interference.

Tools like Ekahau Pro and the Ekahau Sidekick are specifically designed for these types of measurements, though keep in mind they only offer a snapshot in time. Therefore, the survey may not be accurate if construction changes are made to the environment or if new neighbouring Wi-Fi or other RF systems are installed after the survey is done.

HiveRadar Wireless Site Survey Kit

HiveRadar Wireless Site Survey Kit (WSSK)

The HiveRadar Wireless Site Survey Kit (WSSK) is a compact and rugged case loaded with all the tools you need including a custom battery with power cables, AP mounting pole, laser distance measure, LED flashlight, and multi-tool.

Contact an Expert

Ask an Expert

Our experts are on hand to provide you with any knowledge or technical information that you require about our Wi-Fi solutions or Retail Wi-Fi as a whole.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Post-deployment Survey

After the network is installed a post-deployment survey is essential to validate that your SLAs are being achieved. In the same way that if you wanted gigabit to the desktop and purchase Cat5e ethernet cable, you don’t know for sure if it will carry gigabit traffic until you validate it and prove it meets your specific requirements. Don’t simply trust the install worked as you planned – test your network before you get called back to fix it later.

Tools like Ekahau Pro and the Ekahau Sidekick allow you to perform this post validation survey and ‘prove’ your installed systems meet or exceed your WLAN requirements. It’s likely that the results will highlight some that some final adjustments to the settings on your APs are required.

Again, keep in mind that any site survey measurements are a snapshot in time and may not reflect WLAN performance into the future.

Ekahau Sidekick - All In One Device

Ekahau Sidekick

The Ekahau Sidekick is an all-in-one measurement device housing two enterprise-grade 802.11ac adapters and an ultra-high resolution spectrum analyser to dramatically streamline the site survey process whilst providing greater reliability, accuracy and convenience.

Wireless Site Survey

Blog: Value of a Post-Installation Wi-Fi Site Survey

In the Wi-Fi industry we have been throwing around the word ‘survey’ for a long time. Many use it incorrectly and it has taken on many meanings over the years. This is the fault of those inside the industry as well as those just trying to talk like they know what they are doing.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Building a Captive Portal

A captive portal is the web page displayed to the user of a public Wi-Fi network before they can use the internet freely. Effectively the user is “captive” until they have completed the actions required, which is normally some sort of authentication.

Captive portals are great for marketing and commercial communication purposes but can also be huge momentum killers if done incorrectly. Seconds count and anything that unduly impedes your customers’ ability to get connected is likely to discourage them. To build a captive portal that delights your patients and visitors make sure you follow these ten rules.

Arista Canvas

Arista Network Guest Manager

With Arista Networks Guest Manager it’s easy to extend your secure, high-performance, Wi-Fi network to guests, patients and visitors. Deliver a personalized experience aligned with your objectives to increase patient satisfaction.

Arista Canvas Webinar

Webinar: Make a Splash with Arista Canvas

With Arista (formerly Mojo) Canvas you can create beautiful splash pages in just minutes without any web experience. Watch this webinar to learn how to personalise your loyalty program using the extensive built-in reports or by API to feed Wi-Fi guest analytics into your CRM to create brand ambassadors and increase revenue per visit.

Healthcare Wi-Fi: Performance Monitoring

In a healthcare environment reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and high performance levels are essential in delivering a great patient experience and in supporting caregivers perform real-time critical processes. A wireless network outage creates potentially severe patient care and reputational costs, which is why a method of monitoring the performance of your wireless network is important.

Whilst WLAN access points can collect some data, they don’t collect enough in order to accurately diagnose Wi-Fi performance issues. And without the data, there is little hope for Wi-Fi optimization or long term Wi-Fi assurance. Handheld tools such as the Ekahau Sidekick are excellent at troubleshooting persistent issues, but a disparate network of geographically dispersed clinics and hospitals make it difficult to tackle intermittent Wi-Fi problems that may impact workflows and the patient experience.

This is where an independent wireless performance monitoring solution like 7SIGNAL is worth considering. They provide a comprehensive system for continually monitoring the performance of Wi-Fi networks and wireless experiences across your entire estate. They proactively identify issues and alert you so that you can remediate performance issues before they adversely impact patient care.

Sapphire Eye 2100 Perspective

Sapphire Eye 2200

7SIGNAL’s patented Wi-Fi sensor called Sapphire Eye™ acts like a high-performance client and benchmarks the Wi-Fi performance with around-the-clock user experience testing and passive scanning of the 2.4 and 5GHz frequency bands. They go beyond data provided by AP vendors and are completely agnostic, working with all industry-standard wireless access points, regardless of whether they are controller or cloud managed.

Case Study: Akron Children’s Hospital Improves Operational Effectiveness with High Performance Wi-Fi

In 2011, hospital operations included 359 beds, 900 Cisco WLAN access points (APs), with over 800 Wi-Fi connected clients running critical applications such as IV-pumps, VoIP voice calls, Computers on Wheels, laptops, tablets and PDAs, access to electronic medical records and billing systems. Not to mention guest access from patients and visitors. The number of wireless devices used for medical and patient care purposes was expected to triple within two years and continue growing rapidly in the future.

Do you have a question?