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Collaborating to connect instantly: Universal-access Wi-Fi set up in the vast majority of Saskatchewan health-care sites and offices

Feb 25, 2020

Categories: News

Anis Momin, Infrastructure Analyst; Kevin Vaxvick, Director of Networking and Unified Communications; and Naveed Ali, Network Analyst.

IT employees from across the Saskatchewan health-care system have taken action to resolve a technology “headache” affecting their fellow coworkers.

Health-care organizations such as eHealth Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), and IT personnel from each of the 12 former health regions worked together to make a massive improvement: they set up universal-access Wi-Fi in the vast majority of Wi-Fi-enabled health-care sites and offices across the province.

“In the early stages of the creation of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the need for unified Wi-Fi access became very clear, especially for those employees who travel regularly across the province,” said Kevin Vaxvick, Director of Network and Unified Communications at eHealth Saskatchewan.

Vaxvick says that his Information Technology Transition Provincial Networking team immediately went to work designing and implementing a solution to improve Wi-Fi access for health sector employees.

Before the improvement, employees whose position required moving from site to site or attending meetings in different offices on a regular basis would find a lot of their time being spent tracking down the guest Wi-Fi network and password that they needed to do their job. After that, they would have to go through all the steps required to connect.“With the assistance of eHealth’s Security team, we created a centralized authentication system and consolidated all of the separate firewall rules from each former region. These streamlined processes enabled health-care employees to connect to a Wi-Fi signal, as well as access important files and resources from their organization, quickly and easily from anywhere in the province,” said Vaxvick.

One universal-access Wi-Fi in every Wi-Fi-enabled facility means that these same employees only have to log-in once from a device if they select the option to reconnect automatically. Now, the health-system-provided devices staff use to do their work or stay in touch with coworkers will be ready to go at the Wi-Fi-enabled locations they visit, even if they have never been there before.

Aside from the convenience and efficiency of this network, a crucial factor for this improvement was the amalgamation of the 12 former Saskatchewan health regions into a single health authority in December 2017 and the decision to consolidate IT services under eHealth Saskatchewan. Employees are now travelling across former regional boundaries and working together in new ways. The IT infrastructure is changing to match their new organizational connection.

“The new wireless network has really allowed the health system to work better together. When I used to attend a meeting at a partner organization’s office I would spend 10 to 15 minutes trying to track down the guest Wi-Fi password, go through the log-in process, and then accept their terms and conditions. Often, even after I did all of that, there were firewalls that would prevent me from getting access. It was really frustrating,” said 3sHealth CEO Mark Anderson. “Now, when I’m meeting with partners at their offices, we are all immediately connected and ready to get to work to improve health care together.”

The provincial IT team completed the initiative using existing wireless infrastructure, meaning that there was no new equipment purchased or other costs incurred aside from the staff hours it took to stand up the wireless network. Those staff hours will be recovered by the time employees will save by being instantly connected.

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