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Residential care group Soprim@ manages 425 access points in 12 locations through a single cloud-based dashboard

“I can now manage a complex multi-site IT network via a single central dashboard or app on my smartphone. Basically, instead of jumping into my car, I just have to make a swipe or click the mouse!”

In the past, the IT environments in Soprim@’s residential care facilities were managed locally, often with no dedicated ICT manager on-site. The local networks in the elderly homes and care facilities depended on cheap switches bought for 15 euros in local retail shops.

Koen De Vos, Soprim@ IT Manager: “It’s hard to believe, but in some facilities you could see the various network cables coming together on the ground under a table in the canteen. When a network failure was reported, the most obvious reason was that the cleaning team had been there that same morning… all I could do was jump into my car to investigate the problem.”

Soprim@ runs 15 residential care facilities for elderly people in Flanders. The existing local LAN/WAN and wifi networks fail to meet to the requirements of a modern, patient-friendly healthcare environment. IT-partner Ferranti was selected to implement a new, future-proof IT infrastructure that included 425 Cisco Meraki access points in 12 locations. Today, ICT Manager Koen De Vos manages the whole network in 12 locations through a single cloud-based management dashboard, freeing up time for more strategic projects.

Increasingly Demanding Environment

Soprim@ realized that it had to centralize its ICT management, as it had done for other processes such as finance, operations and facility management,… “Relieving local care facilities from support processes such as ICT would allow them to focus on their core mission: to offer optimal care, for patients and residents alike”, Koen De Vos explained.

Besides the LAN/WAN environments, the wireless networks in most facilities were also ready for an upgrade. Koen De Vos: “We needed a future-proof Wi-Fi environment, allowing medical personnel to access electronic patient records anywhere in the building via mobile devices. Besides that, the friends and families of the residents are becoming more demanding: they expect wireless access in the room while they are visiting their family of friend. Everyone should be able to check their emails or to make a Skype call to relatives while visiting a patient.”

425 Access Points, 12 Locations

Before starting the implementation of the new IT networks, Soprim@ asked Ferranti to conduct site surveys. This resulted in an RFP with three important objectives: the new infrastructure had to offer an affordable cost, be easy to maintain from a single central location, and be ready for future demands such as e-health and Voice over IP. The Cisco Meraki solution, offered by Ferranti, turned out to be the winner.

To date, Ferranti has installed 425 Meraki switches and access points spread over 12 locations. Each location is now equipped with a double Wi-Fi network for internal staff and visitors. “It gives us a secure feeling that our new infrastructure is future-proof: we know we have an answer to any future expectation, not only from the healthcare perspective but also with regard to visitors”, said Koen De Vos.

Managing IT Networks with a Click or a Swipe

The new Cisco Meraki switches are automatically updated with the latest firmware via the cloud: no on-site intervention is any longer required.

In the past, handling network incidents also used to be a time-consuming task. Many problems that were reported coming from 15 different locations required an on-site intervention, in order to identify the problem and find a solution.

The Cisco Meraki central cloud-based management dashboard installed by Ferranti was a relief for Koen De Vos. He no longer has to go on-site in order to identify an incident. If he gets a message on a Saturday that an access point is failing somewhere, he can act immediately from home and make sure that the problem is solved on the Monday.

“I can now manage a complex multi-site IT network via a single central dashboard or app on my smartphone. Basically, instead of jumping in my car, I just have to make a swipe or click on a  mouse! Even more important: it allows me to focus on more strategic projects which bring more value”, Koen De Vos added.

Ferranti: a trust relationship

Koen de Vos testifies: “We have built a real trust relationship with Ferranti. The combination of two qualities makes them unique as IT company. Ferranti is not only a partner with great in-house expertise on which you can rely, but they also have extremely flexible attitude. Whatever the problem might be, Ferranti will proactively look for a solution with us.”

Benefits

  • Centralized IT management with fewer on-site interventions
  • Local residential care units can keep focus on their core mission: care for the patient
  • New LAN/WAN and Wi-Fi networks are ready for future applications
  • Trust relationship with Ferrant