Tech Audit for your Facility – Why they have become a Necessity

Tech Audit for your Facility – Why they have become a Necessity

Tech Audit

Digital connectivity Infrastructure is an indispensable part of modern-day business. Given the growing risk exposure, evolving security landscape, and stringent regulations, it has now become essential for senior living and LTPACs to strengthen and support their IT connectivity Infrastructure and performing a Tech Audit can help. It’s a process of technical evaluation that assesses the current status of your connectivity and network to gauge its performance. (more…)

What is the Difference Between Dedicated Internet and Shared Internet

What is the Difference Between Dedicated Internet and Shared Internet

If you have ever heard the terms ‘shared internet’ and ‘dedicated internet’, you might have wondered exactly what they mean. What separates these two, and which type of internet is a better choice for your senior living facility? You’ll find the answer in our overview of the 5 main differences between dedicated internet access and shared internet access.

Shared Vs. Dedicated Internet: 5 Key Differences

1. Speed

Shared internet connections often advertise impressive speeds, but what they don’t tell you is that those speeds can only be achieved when there are very few other users actively using that connection at the same time you are. This rarely happens, and shared connections rarely reach those top speeds as a result. They can state this in their advertising because they always include the term “up to” prior to the advertised speed.

If you have a dedicated connection, however, your community is the only user allowed onto the network and will be able to use it to connect to the high-speed internet. This makes it much easier to maintain high connection speeds, allowing for lightning-fast webpage loading, uninterrupted video streaming, and more.

2. Reliability

Although network reliability has improved considerably over the years, users on a shared internet connection can still expect to experience the occasional service outage. In a CCRC facility with life-sustaining medical devices connected to the cloud, even a few minutes without service could have deadly repercussions.

Dedicated connections, however, are typically monitored 24 hours a day and are given priority access to proactive maintenance and repairs. Outages are extremely rare and tend to be very short in duration. The result is internet service with true 99.9% reliability that you can count on even for life-critical applications.

3. Security

Shared internet access is a somewhat risky prospect by definition. With potentially thousands of users on the same connection, there are innumerable opportunities for hackers to infiltrate your network.

Since dedicated internet connections are for your use only, you have much more control over authentication practices, firewalls, and other cybersecurity measures. This makes these connections much safer for medical applications where users’ privacy and safety are potentially at risk.

4. Symmetry

In the context of internet connections, symmetry refers to the balance between download and upload speeds.  Internet connections delivered over coax (CATV/DOCSIS/CMTS) are Asymmetrical by design; and while their download speeds are passable, their upload speeds are significantly 5 – 10 times slower. It may take several hours for this type of internet connection to upload large files like high-resolution images and videos.

Dedicated fiber optic internet connections offer high performance, Symmetrical download and upload speeds. This is perfect for organizations and institutions with regular data transfer needs, such as healthcare facilities, and Wi-Fi for senior living facilities.

5. Customer Support

When you’re using a shared internet connection, you may find yourself waiting a long time to get your ISP’s customer service department to address any problem you have. Not only can this be frustrating, but it can also interfere with your ability to run your business.

Having a dedicated internet connection makes you a VIP customer with your ISP. Because you have made a significant investment in their services, they are bound by the Service Level Agreement that stipulates specific timeframes to address and resolve any issues.  Once raised, these will be handled in a matter of hours, rather than the days or weeks, it might have taken a typical customer to get a resolution to the same problem.

Choose Dedicated Internet for Your CCRC Facility Today

Dedicated internet access offers so many advantages that it is inarguably worth the investment for businesses that depend on a quality connection, including senior living Wi-Fi facilities.

At HealthSignals, we specialize in Medical Wi-Fi and advanced telecommunications solutions for CCRC and LTPAC facilities. Contact us anytime to learn more about our communications infrastructure and what it brings to the table for facilities like yours.

Medical Wi-Fi: What Makes It Medical Grade?

Medical Wi-Fi: What Makes It Medical Grade?

Basic consumer Wi-Fi varies greatly in quality; you never really know what you’re going to get. Medical grade Wi-Fi®, on the other hand, is subject to strict quality standards to maintain consistency and safety for all users. Adding this type of Medical Wi-Fi network to your facility could bring a number of improvements to both your staff and your residents.

Earning the ‘Medical Grade’ Label

In order to be deemed medical grade, a Wi-Fi network must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Coverage:

    Senior living Wi-Fi coverage can be spotty in many larger buildings, making it difficult to know when and where you will be able to access the internet. Medical Grade Wi-Fi®; provides 100% coverage over its service area, so you’ll never have to wonder if you will be able to get a signal no matter where you go inside the building.

  • Capacity:

    Capacity refers to the number of devices a Wi-Fi network can support at one time. Medical Grade Wi-Fi® is built with an extremely high capacity to accommodate simultaneous use by a large number of devices. Life-sustaining medical devices are given top priority within the network to ensure that they are always able to access the bandwidth they need.

  • Medical Wi-Fi Signal Strength:

    Signal strength is prioritized at -67db in an enterprise-grade network (the minimum for Voice over Wi-Fi) and may be nominal or best effort at the consumer level. Signal strength in a medical Wi-Fi network is engineered and guaranteed at -65db or greater (that may not sound like much, but it is a 56% stronger signal).

  • Reliability:

    Signal reliability must be as high as possible since Wi-Fi downtime in a medical setting could cost lives.      While many enterprise-grade Wi-Fi solutions boast impressive reliability of 99% or more, Medical Grade Wi-Fi® networks offer 99.9% signal reliability you can truly depend on.

  • Certainty:

    A network’s certainty refers to its ability to operate without interference in an environment with high radio frequencies. The certainty of Medical Grade Wi-Fi® networks is rated ‘very high,’ promising fail-safe performance in mission and life-critical environments.  In addition, medical Wi-Fi is highly secure and fail-safe with no single point of failure. Self-monitoring and alert mechanisms ensure that alerts are sent at every failure, and you can set up rules-based alerts. Routine device pinging ensures that devices are functioning properly, and if they are not functioning as expected, you can take corrective measures right away to avoid failures during critical periods.

  • Medical Wi-Fi Security:

    Medical Grade Wi-Fi® must comply with HIPAA’s strict privacy standards. Networks employ a variety of cutting-edge digital and over-the-air security measures to ensure that patients’ sensitive health data is never compromised by data breaches or cyberattacks.

  • Maintenance:

    A Medical Grade Wi-Fi® network is backed up by self-monitoring systems that alert IT staff of device outages and other emerging problems. These issues can then be addressed proactively to avoid further outages at critical periods.

Applications of Medical Wi-Fi for Senior
Living Facilities

Most of the requirements that define Medical Grade Wi-Fi® assume that it will be used in conjunction with medical devices, but you can use your new network for much more than that. A few of the potential applications for Medical Grade Wi-Fi® include:

  • Resident use

    Residents can use their new high-bandwidth connection to read the news, stream television and movies, enjoy video calls with family and friends, and much more.

  • Public access to medical wi-fi

    Providing a strong Wi-Fi connection for guest use allows visitors to see that your facility is a comfortable and modern establishment. This paints your facility in a favorable light and may even result in new customers.

  • Business and medical administration

    Running a senior living facility means dealing with reams of notes, forms, papers, presentations, and more. A high-quality Wi-Fi connection can help to streamline day-to-day duties like billing, charting, and medication management, saving your staff hours of time each day.

Medical Grade Wi-Fi® Solutions for CCRCs

Installing Medical Wi-Fi on the premises is a large progressive step for your senior living Wi-Fi facility, but the process is not without its own unique challenges. At HealthSignals, we pride ourselves on our CCRC telecommunications expertise. Read our whitepaper to learn more about how to properly implement medical Wi-Fi in your facility or contact us to discuss your institution’s unique needs.

ERRC Considerations When Planning a New Building Construction

ERRC Considerations When Planning a New Building Construction

When disaster strikes, emergency responders need to move quickly; every second they are delayed to take action could cost lives. The International Fire Code’s ERRC regulations were designed with this principle in mind. These guidelines govern radio infrastructure inside institutional buildings and ensure that all buildings that are accessible to the public maintain a strong radio signal for emergency communications, and they are imperative for developers when drafting plans for new senior living facilities.

What is ERRC? 

ERRC, or Emergency Responder Radio Coverage, refers to the radio system that supports communication between first responders in an emergency situation. The term emergency could refer to anything from a fire or flood to a terrorist event.  The important part is not the event itself, but the need for swift and decisive action. Responding appropriately to these types of occurrences often requires extensive coordination between teams of people, and they rely on good radio coverage to do it.

Unfortunately, radio signals weaken when they travel over long distances and through concrete, steel, and other obstructions. This means that ERRC in buildings can sometimes become spotty and unreliant. While this is usually not a concern for small buildings, larger ones may need to include additional broadcast points to ensure coverage throughout the entire structure.

Since the introduction of the IFC 510 in 2009, all new buildings have been required to include any in-building ERRC infrastructure needed to maintain an adequate radio signal. Amendments made in 2015 and 2018 expanded those requirements to include buildings that were constructed prior to 2009 as well.

The Importance of ERRC in Assisted Living 

Complying with the IFC 510 is more than just a legal obligation for senior living facilities; it is essential to the safety of your residents and staff. If a fire breaks out or another disaster occurs, they will be in serious jeopardy, and many may be unable to make any independent efforts to escape. They will be dependent on emergency response teams to help them evacuate to safety, and those teams will be much better equipped to do this if they can relay information back and forth across an unwavering radio connection.

While ERRC regulations were conceived with fire safety in mind, maintaining good emergency responder radio coverage in buildings is also useful in the context of medical emergencies. This is particularly important within assisted living facilities. Residents may require complex medical intervention at any time, and their health outcomes may become significantly worse if emergency responders cannot get them the care they need in a timely fashion. Strong radio coverage makes successful hand-offs significantly easier and ensures that all parties helping to address the emergency understand what is going on at all times.

Choosing the Right ERRC Technologies 

There are two technologies that are primarily used to meet ERRC requirements: radiating cable systems and distributed antenna systems.

A radiating cable system (also called a leaky cable) is a tall, flexible antenna that is used to broadcast radio frequency signals. This system can be easily installed in shafts and corridors inside a building, works well in close quarters, and can be used to enhance two-way radio capability. However, its range is short and it is susceptible to interference from other radio frequency signals in the area, so it is not suitable for all applications.

A distributed antenna system is composed of managed hubs and remote antennas supported by amplification boosters and bi-directional amplifiers. This system sends digital signals from the base station to the outlying hubs through a dedicated high-bandwidth fiber-optic network. When those signals reach the hubs, they are converted back to radio frequencies and distributed through the associated antennas. This allows the signal to remain strong and clear regardless of distance. This type of system can be costly, but it provides far more reliable radio coverage than competing technologies.

These sytems are complex and require detailed design by certified engineers to ensure that all First Responders needs are addressed.  There is not usually a “one size fits all solution for these implementations.

Invest in ERRC Solutions Today 

Incorporating a high-quality ERRC solution like HealthSignals’ into your new building ensures ongoing ERRC compliance and helps to make your senior living facility as safe as possible for your residents.

Our services include everything from design and engineering to ongoing management, providing a convenient and hassle-free experience for all our clients. Contact us today to hear more about our ERRC projects and how they can help you keep the occupants of your assisted living building safe.


Smart Aging: Make Sure Your Facility Supports it

Smart Aging: Make Sure Your Facility Supports it

Smart aging is an increasingly pressing topic having a profound impact on the well-being of seniors. It’s a fantastic AI-driven intelligence solution that uses web, mobile, and voice-assisted platforms like Alexa to enhance social connection, improve personal enrichment, add an extra level of security, and provide access to state-of-the-art healthcare. It’s been incredibly impactful during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing senior living community residents to socialize with loved ones and feel safe knowing their health needs will be met.

Smart Aging: Make Sure Your Facility Supports it.

If they’re not already, senior living providers must leverage today’s most advanced technologies to empower their residences to live a more independent, connected, and healthier life.

The Role of Technology in Smart Aging

Smart aging promotes senior well-being through the seamless integration of the latest technologies into their daily lives. It’s critically important to improving seniors’ lives, mitigating the health effects of aging, and improving the overall quality of senior living environments.

Following four main smart aging areas are considered to improve seniors’ quality of life:

  • Living environment, including housing as well as issues like accessibility, safety, and having basic needs met.
  • Mental capabilities as they relate to psychological well-being and overall quality of life.
  • Social experiences such as digital communications with relatives and friends, support groups, online classes, leisure activities, and artistic expression.
  • Physical well-being as it relates to physical activity, physical function, and high quality of physical well-being.

There are also four categories of smart aging-related technologies:

  • Information technology that supports social connections as well as contact with healthcare providers.
  • Medical systems and devices used to remotely monitor residents’ health.
  • Bio-technology to improve health and living systems.
  • Robotics supporting residents through tasks like food service delivery and hands-free temperature checks.

Smart aging technology components include things like wearables and telehealth services that significantly contribute to a better quality of life and improve everyday living. For instance, with telehealth technologies, seniors become more aware of their health with minimal effort needed for doctor’s visits, which, in turn, lets them become more proactive in keeping themselves fit and well while remaining independent.

Does Your Senior Living Facility Make the Grade?

Smart aging technology is an investment that benefits residents and providers alike. For facilities, it allows them to offer a more attractive resident experience and increases overall community satisfaction resulting in higher occupancy rates. For residents, it makes it easier to continue social connections and build fulfilling, active lifestyles. And the benefits will continue long after the pandemic is under control.

To ensure residents can take full advantage of everything smart aging technology offers, it’s crucial to have a Wi-Fi system in place that supports continuous streaming technologies like remote patient monitoring, video conferencing, and “store and forward” secure communications. Medical Grade Wi-Fi® from HealthSignals’ offers secure, campus-wide coverage that guarantees residents stay connected whenever and wherever they need to.

Contact us today to learn more.

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