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Why Wi-Fi Isn’t Enough For Healthcare


Charlotte, NC, February 7, 2023:

Sharing data and information makes modern healthcare function. Test results, appointment times, patient and family updates, emergency notifications, and dozens of other vital information are shared within and beyond the facility. For the modern hospital to effectively perform, everyone in the facility must be able to communicate easily and efficiently. It is imperative for hospitals to provide communication systems that allow effortless and seamless communication amongst doctors, patients, nurses, first responders and families without wasting vital time maneuvering around a sub-standard wireless communication network.

Limitations of Wi-Fi in Healthcare

Hospitals throughout the United States have spent billions of dollars improving the speed and coverage of their Wi-Fi networks. However, focusing primarily on the Wi-Fi network within the hospital ignores the preferred communication method for most Americans: their smartphone with their cellular provider.

Importance of Cellular Access in Healthcare

By providing better cellphone access hospitals can:

  • Increase clinician satisfaction and efficiency (no dropped phone calls and high bandwidth speeds)
  • Improve patients’ experiences as they use their smart devices to communicate with loved ones
  • Lessen security risk by removing unmanaged devices from the hospital’s Wi-Fi network
  • Reduce Wi-Fi traffic by placing more on the cellular network
  • Improve the ability to respond to natural disaster or other community wide events

Need for Both Wi-Fi and Cellular Networks

Hospitals, by their very nature (large buildings, electronic field generating equipment, thick walls, and a densely populated environment), offer poor cellular service from outside cellular towers. Traditionally, the response to this has been to focus on improving Wi-Fi services and encourage everyone: patients, visitors, staff, vendors and anyone else in the hospital, to join the hospital production or guest Wi-Fi as appropriate.

However, the “Wi-Fi only” strategy does not work for today’s healthcare facilities. This strategy needlessly puts the hospital network in direct communication with 1,000s of unmanaged devices and poor or inconsistent voice, SMS and data performance creates complexity for hospital staff, patients and visitors.  Focusing on Wi-Fi only can also interrupt communication as devices switch from cellular to Wi-Fi networks, generating inconsistent SMS messaging and delivery, and ultimately creating complexity for hospital staff, patients and visitors.

Use Cases for Wi-Fi and Cellular Networks in Healthcare

So, what is the answer? Neither cellular nor Wi-Fi is a panacea. The hospital needs both a strong cellular and Wi-Fi network. There are specific use cases more suited for each communication technology. For example, hospitals need a robust and private Wi-Fi network for their infusion pumps and bedside monitoring technology. However, your medical teams, Doctors, Nurses, EMS and other transitory professionals need a highly mobile network capable of facilitating communications throughout the hospital and to entities outside the hospital perimeter. In this case, cellular phones and tablets with access to AT&T’s FirstNet or general cellular networks provide the optimal connectivity for the team.

Improving Communication with a Combination of Wi-Fi and Cellular Services

Patients, families, and the care team need to communicate in the easiest manner for them. This can be achieved by having a strong hospital Wi-Fi network, strong guest Wi-Fi services and strong cellular service throughout the facility. More importantly, each network facilitates strength, and lessens the burden on the other two. With strong cellular, fewer people connect to guest and production Wi-Fi, which speeds communication, limits the attack surface and eases the burden on the user.


Any communication strategy that doesn’t consider production WiFi, Guest WiFi and cellular connectivity is only looking at part of the story and won’t provide the type of results needed. A combination of strong Wi-Fi and cellular services is necessary for optimal communication in modern healthcare facilities. As a smart building technology company, Airwavz can make this simple through our healthcare wireless solutions. Contact us today to learn more!



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