Overcome network troubleshooting challenges in hospitals

05/11/2017

Overcome network troubleshooting challenges in hospitals

As mobile device use increases, hospitals rely ever more on IT networks, making it mission critical that network downtime is minimised and issues are rectified quickly.  Tim Widdershoven, Global Marketing Manager for IDEAL Networks, explains some of the common network troubleshooting challenges encountered in hospitals and how IT technicians can efficiently overcome them.

Challenge: Troubleshooting on the move

IT technicians in hospitals are always on the move, responding to calls from anywhere across the hospital to report that a piece of hardware is not working properly.  Technicians must walk from place to place and are often required to work in tight spaces to check for issues with data cabling and server or network access. 

Many technicians will use a laptop for troubleshooting, which is heavy to carry and far from ideal when not working at a desk.  Log in via a laptop can take some time, batteries can run out quickly and the size of the laptop can make it very difficult to work in small spaces.  In addition, carrying a laptop around risks damage to, or theft of, a very expensive piece of equipment.

Solution: The NaviTEK NT network troubleshooting tester from IDEAL Networks lightens the load for IT technicians, who need to carry various kit from site to site within a hospital.  Completely handheld, it is much easier for IT technicians to carry and makes working in a small space simple and comfortable.  For maximum convenience, the tester also offers instant network access with no log-in required, plus extensive battery life.

Challenge: Increased Wi-Fi device usage

Use of Wi-Fi devices is increasing in hospitals, from visitors using guest internet access, to nurses recording patient observations on mobile devices, and specialists assessing patients via bedside video-conference screens. This results in a need for more Wi-Fi Access Points, which in turn means more data cabling linking the Access Points to a switch.  The increased amount of data cabling requires more management and troubleshooting and makes it more difficult to maintain a robust and reliable network.

Some hospitals have hundreds or thousands of wireless Access Points, supporting everything from phones to medical equipment.  Due to the need for patient confidentiality and private networks, it is also not unusual to find 50 VLANs on site. A laptop is unable to conduct the wide range of tests that IT Technicians may require for troubleshooting within this infrastructure.

Solution:  Unlike a laptop, a tester such as NaviTEK NT from IDEAL Networks can offer physical measurements of both copper and fibre cabling which improves troubleshooting and reduces network downtime. 

Where labelling hasn’t been done correctly, finding the right port or switch to plug into is usually a case of trial and error. However, NaviTEK NT clearly shows technicians whether they are on the right port, so they can test for connectivity and troubleshoot more quickly. In addition, NaviTEK NT can connect to VLANs easily, a difficult task when using a laptop.

Challenge: Avoiding inaccuracy

In a hospital, it’s vital to diagnose issues quickly, so accurate test data is key.  However, if the wrong tester is being used, this can misdiagnose faults on a cable and delay the troubleshooting process.  Inaccuracies can also lead to additional costs, where external engineers are called in to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

Incorrect configurations are another major cause of network downtime and are frequent within hospitals with so many different people and teams involved in managing networks.  It can be difficult for IT technicians to prove the cause of an issue to network infrastructure engineers without the right test equipment.

Solution: NaviTEK NT can test across multiple infrastructures and presents the results on easy to understand PDF reports.  The tester offers accurate wire mapping, including length measurement and distance to fault.  It also means that reports can be generated quickly and easily. These clearly demonstrate incorrect configurations to other network teams and engineers, while also providing documentation of the network and PoE if required.

IDEAL Networks are constantly developing new features and software for the NaviTEK NT tester to ensure that products are up to date with customers’ needs for accurate and versatile testing, and new technology trends.

For more information on the NaviTEK NT series of handheld Network Troubleshooters or other network and data cable testers, visit www.idealnetworks.net .

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