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Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has announced that Medical Center Health (MCH) Odessa, a 400+ bed regional medical center serving Odessa, Texas and the surrounding 17 counties, has deployed an Aruba gigabit wireless network with ClearPass to bring greater efficiency to staff and physicians, improve patient outcomes and prepare for the provider’s Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives.

Founded more than 65 years ago, MCH Odessa has expanded from a single facility to a family of healthcare providers delivering a broad range of advanced medical services. The System consists of a Level II Trauma Center, regional hospital, a teaching hospital and a health care system that includes satellite outpatient services and integrated physician services. MCH also operates eight clinics.

MCH Odessa has been grappling with the need to provide a more mobile work environment that increases the productivity and flexibility of clinicians and staff, and at the same time, improves the patient experience. The provider wanted a network that could deliver improved performance and the ability to offer tiered levels of user access. They also needed the wireless network to support their cloud-based EMR system and a virtual desktop environment wherein physicians, caregivers, staff, patients and guests can use their own mobile devices in MCH Otodessa’s buildings, and access critical applications like Vocera for Voice over IP (VoIP) communications. Finally, with a number of planned IoT initiatives for medical device and personnel tracking, as well as applications like tracking hand washing across their facilities, MCH Odessa knew their wireless network had to evolve to be able to meet their future requirements.

Working with technology partner, CJ Communications, MCH Odessa conducted an informal Proof of Concept (POC) and quickly determined that the Aruba solution was easy to manage and user-friendly. According to Brad Shook, Director of IT Operations for MCH Odessa, Aruba’s combination of manageability, security and technology that could help the provider “future proof” for additional mobile and IoT devices coming onto their network, as well as an overall lower cost of ownership, sealed the deal.

“We were impressed with how Aruba handled everything, from implementation to management to the security aspects of the network,” Shook said. “With our current need to address a variety of mobile and medical devices on the network and our planned IoT initiatives, securing all of these devices as we onboard them is crucial. The Aruba network gives us the foundation we need now and as we move forward with our IoT plans.”

MCH Odessa deployed Aruba 802.11ac access points, Aruba Mobility Controllers, AirWave network management and ClearPass Guestand Policy Manager. The provider is particularly pleased with AirWave’s graphical user interface and the ability to see which users are consuming the most bandwidth, the type of traffic they are generating and the quality of service devices are receiving. Shook noted that the ability to play back the movement of a device through the wireless network so his IT team can track quality through the entire lifecycle of the device is a huge benefit.

With its role-based access, ClearPass was also a major factor in MCH Odessa’s decision to select Aruba. The provider is intent on offering tiered services – like a hotel – so that staff, clinicians, patients and guests can have different levels of access. While patients would have free access, MCH Odessa would like to offer visitors and guests a premium level for which they can purchase a 24-hour pass – a move that would help them recover the costs of the Internet connection.

In the future, MCH Odessa plans to focus on improved voice communications, asset tracking to prevent equipment from being lost, stolen or destroyed by mistake and managing clinical Service Level Agreements (SLAs). An example of the latter would be the ability to give patients an SLA that guarantees their nurse will be in their room a certain number of times per day. MCH Odessa can then use the wireless network to show how much time a nurse has spent in the patient’s room and subsequently, generate reports the provider can share with patients.

MCH Odessa’s Senior Vice President and CIO, Gary Barnes, estimates that the provider is already at about 54% client virtual environment and their goal is to get to 95-98% virtual. “We want to give all users the ability to use their tablet or whatever mobile device they have to securely pull up a virtual desktop – whether through Citrix or just accessing the apps they need directly,” Barnes said. “Having the Aruba solutions in place will help us move quickly to this mobile-first environment, which will in turn help us meet our goals of greater productivity, iron-clad security for our IoT initiatives and of course, our most important objective, better patient care.”

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