Case study: How Airedale trust has deployed intelligent network solutions


Intelligent network ensures faster clinical response times, enhanced efficiency while enabling advanced asset management and RFID-based patient tracking at NHS hospital trust

About the trust

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust provides acute, elective and specialist care in West and North Yorkshire and East Lancashire. The campus has 2,900 staff and treats more than 25,000 inpatients, 26,000 non-elective patients and 131,000 outpatients each year.

The solution

Airedale’s management decided to upgrade its campus communications to deliver the hospital’s objectives of faster clinical response times and increased operational efficiency. It is driving this with innovations from Enterasys Networks.

In the first initiative, the trust requested direct communication with doctors under the out-of-hours doctors initiative, so they could deal with emergencies and ad hoc requests faster. In a pilot, Enterasys Networks delivered a clinical-grade wireless infrastructure connected to the existing communications platform. The high availability network is secure, easy-to-manage and based on VoIP with C1000 controller from Siemens Enterprise communications and 30 WLAN access points. The access points are managed via two controllers, ensuring consistent service levels for multiple applications on a single infrastructure.

The trust later expanded the infrastructure allowing doctors to access voice calls and email from clinical mobile assistants and staff to access data such as patient details and test results from a PC or laptop. Doctors on the wards access the details using Computers on Wheels (COWs) connected to web-based applications such as Picture Archiving and Communication system (PACS).

We’ve provided vital services to clinical and ancillary staff from wireless access of patient details to RFID tagging of critical equipment

Enterasys installed two C4110 wireless controllers capable of supporting 250 access points (APs) per unit (or 500 APs in failover mode). Airedale’s upgraded wireless platform supports a mixed a/b/g/n environment, ensuring effective performance from individual wireless clients. It also gives the trust a path to high-speed 802.11n, which is currently being trialled.

Enterasys also provided a platform for the asset management of bedside infusion pumps, which were previously hoarded at certain points, leaving some wards short. It partnered with RFID specialist, Ekahau, to implement an application for tagging and tracking the pumps. This system enables both the medical electronics department and infection control staff to quickly locate the units highlighted on CAD drawings of Airedale’s main buildings.

Enterasys is also enabling the hospital to trial RFID-based Ekahau patient tagging using wristband tags. Staff set parameters for high-risk patients and when a patient passes such a point, the tag activates staff pager alarms.

Andrew Leng, IT solutions architect at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Staff log in to the site survey mapping tool to track the patient. It’s efficient and done in agreement with the family of representative.”

The results

Since the deployment, doctors can securely access patients’ details and are able to handle requests while on the move. Leng said: “We’ve provided vital services to clinical and ancillary staff from wireless access of patient details to RFID tagging of critical equipment.”

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It also means enhanced safety for high-risk patients, optimisation of previous ICT investments, and enhanced campus-wide communication with fast and resilient VoIP and wireless infrastructures.