Why Improving Your Urgent Care Facility’s Connectivity with Passive DAS is Critical
Driving around your city or town lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot more urgent care facilities popping up. There are approximately 7,400 urgent care centers in the U.S., according to the Urgent Care Association of America. These facilities provide medical care and treatment for 160 million Americans each year.
There are no signs of slowing either, with urgent care centers projected to grow at a rate of 5.8 percent annually through 2018. With the booming U.S. population, there’s no question it’s a good time to be in the medical and urgent care business.
If you are the owner or manager of one of the many urgent care facilities in America, it’s important to ensure that you keep things running as smoothly as possible in order to provide the highest level of care. That includes keeping all of your operations online with a reliable cellular connection and network.
With 77 percent of the population owning a smartphone, Americans rely on connectivity wherever they are. But the reasons you need strong cell coverage in your urgent care facility go far beyond enabling your staff and patience to check their social media feeds. There are important reasons why your staff and patients (and their families) need reliable connectivity in order to provide the highest level of care.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why you need strong cell coverage in your urgent care facility:
Staff relying on cell phones
While the medical profession was one of the last holdouts to rely on pagers, cellular advancements have led to a rapid decline in their use in medical settings. Instead, doctors and nurses are using apps on their smartphones that allow colleagues to contact and alert them in case of emergencies.
Of course, these apps become unreliable when cellular service is spotty or non-existent. For obvious reasons, that can lead to problems that are unacceptable to both patients and caregivers in an urgent care setting.
Patients using their cell phones
Medical scenarios that bring people to an urgent care facility are often less dire than those for which patients visit a hospital emergency room. Still, patients and those that accompany them to your facility still need to get in touch with other family members or friends. They also rely on their phones to access insurance or look up other personal information that is integral to their care at your facility. This requires that they have the ability to quickly access outside websites, or send and receive text messages. Of course, all of these activities are hampered when there is poor cellular connection in a building.
Online/virtual check-in services
Online check-in systems are becoming more prevalent in urgent care facilities. These offer convenience for both the facility and the patient alike. They allow the patient to notify the facility that they’re on their way, and to minimize or eliminate the time they spend sitting in the waiting room completing check-in tasks — which is often the last thing they want to do when they’re sick or injured.
Your cellular infrastructure needs to be reliable to facilitate that exchange of incoming and outgoing information.
One of the many conveniences for patients when visiting an urgent care center is the ability to have whatever prescriptions they may need electronically uploaded directly to the pharmacy that’s most convenient to them. This process requires reliable and secure cellular connection. Wi-Fi doesn’t provide the security to adequately safeguard your clinic’s DEA and patient information when submitting it to local pharmacies.
Why passive DAS is the right solution
If your urgent care facility is struggling with poor cellular connectivity, dead zones, and all of the issues and security concerns that go along with that, it’s important to implement a solution. Improving the cellular connectivity in your facility is the best move you can make to provide a more seamless workflow for employees, and a higher level of care and convenience for your patients. And it doesn’t have to be complex or costly. With a passive distributed antenna system (passive DAS) you can access existing outdoor cellular signal and bring it into your building, where it can be amplified up to 32 times.
Unlike traditional active DAS systems, which require networks of fiber optics to be installed and can be costly and time consuming, passive DAS offers a much simpler solution. Passive DAS solutions range from 30 cents to 70 cents per square foot, including hardware and installation, compared with active DAS, which can range from $2 and $4 per square foot. Because no internal infrastructure is impacted, installation times are much shorter as well.
Allows a ‘zonal’ approach
Passive DAS also allows a zonal approach to cell signal boosting, which is ideal in medical settings. Through a zonal approach you can boost signal only where you want or need to. If there are areas of the building that need to remain cell-phone free, such as near X-ray operations, for example, you can eliminate signal from that area without impacting others. That approach allows you to better control where signal is crucial and where it isn’t within your facility.