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Wellstar Partners with Wandering WiFi to Offer Patients Free Internet Access

Network of hospitals pioneers availability of Wi-Fi access while maintaining HIPAA guidelines, confidentiality and full security.

Wandering WiFi, a wireless technology solutions provider, has successfully integrated its high-security solution with WellStar Health System's existing wireless network to offer patients and visitors free Internet access at all five of its hospitals.

Using the virtual local area network (VLAN) technology already in place and integrating a virtual private network (VPN), Wandering WiFi was able to add an encryption layer to WellStar's existing secure network to separate official hospital information from traffic generated by hotspot users. With the additional Wandering WiFi technology now in place, WellStar also has the ability to track and monitor all traffic from a central location, prioritize bandwidth utilization and restrict access to sites with objectionable content.

WellStar Health System includes five not-for-profit, community-based hospitals and more than 11,000 healthcare professionals that deliver healthcare for a community exceeding 600,000 people.

"We are committed to delivering the very best healthcare to our patients while also seeking ways to improve the way we deliver care. That includes a broader offering of services designed to enhance and positively impact the patient's experience while in our environment," said Cathy Parmly, technical development director of WellStar Health System. "Wandering WiFi gives us the opportunity to offer patients across our network Internet access with complete security and within HIPAA guidelines -- something we haven't been able to achieve in the past. We are very excited to be one of the first healthcare systems to offer secure Wi-Fi to patients."

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed on August 21, 1996. Among other things, it includes rules pertaining to increased and standardized confidentiality and security of health data. HIPAA privacy regulations require that access to patient information be limited to only those authorized, and that only the information necessary for a task be available to them. And finally that personal health information must be protected and kept confidential.

"Considering the very sensitive nature of the data on WellStar's corporate network, guarding the security of that data was a top priority. Using the latest VLAN and VPN technology, we were able to segregate all traffic across its existing network," said John Marshall, president of Wandering WiFi. "By leveraging WellStar's wireless infrastructure and integrating our industry-leading software, we were able to roll-out a secure, branded patient Wi-Fi experience throughout five hospitals without a significant capital investment. And because we have an on-shore technical support team dedicated to managing WellStar's network, its customers get the highest level of service, with no additional burden on WellStar's IT staff."