Broomfield Hospital, part of Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, is to extend its Aerohive Networks’ wireless local area network infrastructure.

The hospital is to add a further 300 access points to cover a new, five storey wing that will house 365 beds, five operating theatres, the A&E department, maternity unit, pharmacy and helipad.

A key use of the new network will be the RFID tagging of equipment such as mattresses and trolleys, to improve infection control.

Mike Casey, director of IT for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, said: "Alongside traditional healthcare products such as medical tablet PCs and computers on wheels, we want to use RFID to track beds and valuable equipment.

"Effectively, we want to make the hospital ‘self aware.’ In the future, we would expect to be able to track where every bed and every mattress has been at any given time.

"The faster we can provide this information to the infection control teams, the quicker they will be able to comabt sources of infection and contain them."

Casey, who is leading the IT strategy for the new, PFI funded wing, added: "In addition, we will be investing in mobile devices that allow us to utilise the 3G wireless network, helping to reduce call costs.

"And, in the future, we hope to provide a modern platform for new wi-fi enabled devices, such as the Apple iPad to healthcare consultants. To achieve this, it is important that the wireless architecture is future-proof and robust."

Swiftpath Business Solutions and Networks First have implemented and supported the existing wireless network, which consists of 75 access points, known as HiveAPs.  

These will be scaled by 300 by the time the new wing opens in October. A new HiveManager platform will enable Broomfield Hospital to run its network from a central location.

There is room for further expansion. The network could support up to 5,000 HiveAPs. Casey added: "We expect to realise a return on investment from the extended WLAN within 12 months.

"The intuitive nature of the HiveAPs and the central management platform combined will also help to reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

"Aerohive’s arhitecture is designed to overcome the key challenges that we face, now and in the future."