Wireless networks designed with Wireless Valley software help Erickson Retirement Communities enhance quality of care

Austin 19 October 2005Erickson Retirement Communities, a builder and manager of continuing care retirement communities, is using Wireless Valley Communications Inc.'s LANPlanner software to design wireless networks for its Renaissance Gardens facilities, medical centres and administrative offices. Erickson is installing wireless networks at all 13 of its campuses, which include physician practices, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, and home health and rehab services. The networks allow the health care staff to provide patient care using wireless PDAs, tablet PCs or mobile laptop carts to record information about a patient's condition. The networks also enable mobility for the staff in the administrative offices.


Erickson Network Engineer Dave Johnson has completed designs for all eight of the Renaissance Gardens facilities, which are generally three stories and 150.000 square feet. He has also completed designs for eight medical centres and eight of the administration offices. All Renaissance Gardens facilities are operated by Erickson Health, a national integrated health and wellness system for people over age 62 that has been cited for excellence by Medicare.

Two networks have been implemented with excellent results, but the road to this positive outcome was not without challenges. Initially, Erickson used a third-party to conduct a manual site survey and install a network at one of the Renaissance Gardens facilities. When significant problems with the network performance arose, Dave Johnson decided to explore different options and determined it would be better to complete the designs internally using Wireless Valley's LANPlanner software. He imported the building drawing and design of the existing problematic network into the LANPlanner software, which confirmed the site survey had created a poorly designed network with too many access points (APs) and incorrect power and channel settings. In re-designing the facility with LANPlanner, he reduced the number of APs from 32 to 15 and easily determined the new settings. The result was a reliable network which enables the personalized patient care Erickson envisioned when initiating the project.

LANPlanner has also proven to be a cost-effective solution for Erickson. The third-party cost to complete a site survey design along with the network installation totaled around $18.000. Erickson can complete the projects for a third of that cost: $6000. This includes the staff time to complete the LANPlanner design and fees for a third-party installer. From a time savings perspective, Dave Johnson estimates it would take him days to complete one design manually whereas he can complete the same project in two hours with Wireless Valley.

"Our wireless implementations are designed to reduce the amount of paperwork our staff members must complete, enabling them to spend more time with patients and ultimately increasing the quality and accuracy of the care they provide", stated Scott Erickson, senior director of Information Technology for Erickson. "The networks must perform properly to achieve these goals and Wireless Valley's software plays a crucial role in enabling us to create robust networks with the coverage and capacity required."

"Medical facilities are very challenging RF environments, and unless you take into consideration all of the environmental factors in planning a wireless network, you are going to face problems", stated Jim Welch, CEO of Wireless Valley. "We are excited Erickson chose Wireless Valley's LANPlanner to help them create their wireless networks, and it is very rewarding to see the success they have had in developing their infrastructure with our product."

"While our software helped Erickson determine that fewer APs were needed for their installation, other customers have also encountered the opposite situation", stated Wireless Valley Chief Product Officer Roger Skidmore. "Depending on the amount of bandwidth required by applications and the number of users, a network may need more APs than originally expected, but in these cases the post-deployment costs are greatly reduced because the network was designed correctly and didn't require costly re-work. The bottom line is our design and management software suite provides customers with a framework for making educated and cost-effective decisions to create a wireless network that provides superior quality of service."

Wireless Valley pioneered the concept of deploying wireless networks based upon a predictive network design, which considers the impact of environmental factors, the number of users and types of applications. Wireless Valley's software enables network planners to place equipment and interactively visualize how the wireless signals will propagate. In addition, they are able to fine-tune the network design with "what if" analysis to determine optimum performance. Once the network is installed, IT departments use the software to visualize radio frequency activity, detect wireless network issues and remotely resolve problems. Wireless Valley's approach has been proven in thousands of in-building and campus deployments where quality of service requirements have been met; design, deployment and management costs have been minimized; and investments in wireless equipment have been maximized.

Wireless Valley Communications is a provider of innovative software for the efficient design, documentation, monitoring and management of wireless networks. Wireless Valley's software addresses application bandwidth and capacity planning requirements along with coverage needs to ensure cost-effective deployment and management of high-performance wireless networks. Enterprises, universities, multi-tenant office buildings, carriers and businesses worldwide look to Wireless Valley's software to easily plan, visualize, and manage any PCS, Cellular, 3G, WiFi/WLAN, Mesh, WiMax, RFID and ZigBee wireless network. Wireless Valley has developed a rich intellectual property portfolio with more than 100 United States and international patents pending and issued. More company news can be found in the VMW May 2005 article Siemens Netherlands counts on Wireless Valley for complex wireless network design and management.

Leslie Versweyveld

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