Clinique Saint Pierre Ottignies

Aruba delivers a Mobile First platform as Belgian hospital builds smarter approach to healthcare

Clinique Saint Pierre Ottignies (CSPO) is 430-bed hospital in Ottignies, Belgium. It treats 50,000 patients in ER, 20,000 admissions, and 300,000 hospital consultations each year.

To achieve its objectives as a key member of a group of healthcare providers treating over 500,000 patients a year in the Wallonia region, the CSPO team need to collaborate with a large number of partners from hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies and ambulance services, to general practitioners, home-care and a wide range of other functions. Sharing up-to-date patient records in real-time to streamline the care process from start to finish, is a crucial part of the CSPO strategy and their digital Medical Health system plays a central role in achieving this goal.

"Our vision is to provide the best care for our patients and not to just treat them," says Benoit Dehon, CIO and Head of IT, Clinique Saint Pierre Ottignies. "From an IT perspective, we want to provide the best service and digital platform to our business users."

Supporting connected medical devices

For the network, says Dehon, the demands are more specific: "Reliability, security and always-on. We want people to have secure and reliable access to what they need, based on their role, and never to have to think about the network. It has to be considered as a commodity."

We strive to empower the clinical staff to have access to all the necessary information that will allow them to make the best diagnosis and to take the best care of our patients. Benoit Dehon, CIO & Head of IT, Clinique Saint Pierre Ottignies

There are 5 different network access profiles around the hospital. Clinical staff appropriately access patient records and other healthcare records on specific devices, while suppliers and other partners have their own level access to the network. On the other hand, patients and visitors are now provided with high-speed and reliable internet access throughout the hospital. The staff also have internet access on their own devices on a different network. Finally, CSPO, are now able to reliably connect all the Wi-Fi connected medical devices, including remote monitoring systems on a dedicated network which provides high security and availability throughout the hospital.

"Medical devices are not inherently secure, so we can now secure them via the network," adds Dehon. CSPO are now relying on the Wi-Fi network for remote patient monitoring systems, having replaced previous telemetry systems. This began as a proof of concept with Aruba, in the Cardiology Unit and will now be extended throughout the hospital. Clinicians are now able to not only receive any alarms or real-time data from remote patient monitoring devices, but they will also be able to locate the device of the patient.

More and more mobile medical devices are now Wi-Fi enabled, with increasing levels of intelligence built into them as a result of this connectivity. Mobile X-ray units or ultrasound scanners are a common and critical part of the clinical IoT landscape these days. Reliable digital exchange of the data generated by these instruments is now considered as mission-critical.

Value-add service opportunities


The upgraded wireless network, its inherent security and value-add services based on Bluetooth beacons, tags and analytics, provide the IT team with the opportunity to improve the operational efficiencies across the hospital, creating a 'smart' environment with digital wayfinding, asset tracking, CCTV, and automated heating or lighting controls, as well as offering better mobile communications and collaboration systems based on Microsoft® Office 365 and Skype for Business.

"The previous wireless performance and coverage was proving inadequate. There were only a few places in the hospital where you could get reliable connectivity," says Sandrine Ravet, Network and System Engineer as well as Project Manager for the implementation CSPO. "We strive to empower the clinical staff to have access to all the necessary information that will allow them to make the best diagnosis and to take the best care of our patients."

We can now utilise tags in many interesting ways. We can protect and efficiently manage our valuable assets, such as wheelchairs or hospital beds. With appropriate authorisation of the patient, we are also able to find appropriate ways to track patients who need closer observation and can potentially wonder around the hospital; such as patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. While employing such measures to improve personal services to patients, the CSPO and Aruba teams are extremely mindful of the need for patient data integrity and the upcoming impact of GDPR on assuring personal data privacy. All measures are therefore taken to ensure these regulations and requirements are met, including role-based and policy-based network access management with Aruba's ClearPass and ALE platforms.

Digital health agenda and strategic steps

The hospital is in the process of migrating to a new electronic patient record management system (EPR). The IT Team would like to implement a number of innovative functional integrations between the new EPR platform and Aruba's mobile engagement platform, Meridian, in order to deliver digital-enabled, care services and experiences. The availability of Aruba BLE Beacons in each of the deployed access points, offers a solid mobile engagement platform for CSPO to build on, paving the way for asset tracking, mobile app-based patient services, as well as location-based clinical and care services for the staff.

Using the Meridian SDK and open APIs, the IT team are testing a number of services.

Seamless patient greeting and registration

When you enter the hospital as a patient, the last thing you need is long waiting times for non-critical engagements. Via the activation of the hospital app and the authentication of the patient's device onto the CSPO Wi-Fi network, the patient can be informed of their waiting times, their appointments or even the location of the clinician who is waiting for them. Such services will be further developed to continually improve the care experience delivered at CSPO.

Increased security and reliability in care procedures

As part of the continuing integrations between the Aruba solution and the CSPO electronic patient records platform, the EPR includes a process which increases reliability and accuracy in the blood transfusion process. While preparing for the transfusion, the staff will use a mobile device to scan barcodes on the patient's wrist and the supplied blood. Integration with the EPR, allows immediate verifications to ensure the right blood type is being used for that patient. This process ensures the highest level of reliable care, while increasing the efficiency and confidence of the clinical team.

Digital patient records updated on the fly


It is not uncommon for unidentified patients to be admitted to the emergency room. Clinical staff often lose a lot of valuable time having to create temporary records for these patients and then to update the actual person's records once an identity has been established. This can, in some cases, also lead to errors and inconsistencies. CSPO is offering another innovative care service for the staff, enabled by the integration of the EPR with Wi-Fi. By enabling the staff to create electronic records at the patient's bedside and to update their ID and other information on the same records in real-time, the entire process of creating, updating and sharing digital records will become a reality.

Dependable support

"We have a team of 16 in the IT department looking after the network, systems and applications," continues Dehon, "and we have to use our finite resources carefully. We want a reliable solution – and a vendor that knows how to work with us as we need the support of our suppliers as partners."

CSPO has a well-established relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, relying on HPE solutions for its servers, storage, network and backup infrastructure, working with Nexis, its long-term IT solutions provider. Network proposals were considered from Aruba, Cisco, Dell and Motorola in a public tender.

"We already had experience of Aruba controllers and access points, and we were running a perfectly serviceable solution in the cardiology department for our remote monitoring equipment," says Dehon. "But we were required to hold an open, public tender. The fact is that Aruba was uniquely able to meet all the requirements of the tender, and we were content Aruba solutions worked."

High availability and load balancing to eliminate downtime

The Aruba solution comprises over 420 indoor (AP305) and 5 outdoor (AP-365) access points as well as potentially remote access points or RAP, based on AP-303H APs, for certain staff members or remote sites. High availability, configuration management and control are achieved by 2 Aruba 7210 Mobility Controllers. Guest and staff device and connection management and the provision of security policies are fully centralised by and Aruba ClearPass Virtual Appliance and the ClearPass Guest module. Crucially, the entire high-density environment is based on Aruba AOS8 and fully managed and monitored by Aruba AirWave Network Management. With an extensive set of integrated technologies and capabilities, Aruba AOS8 delivers unified wired and wireless access, seamless roaming, enterprise grade security and an always-on network with the required performance, user experience and reliability. The switching network is composed of 2 HPE FlexNetwork 7500 Series Campus Core Switches and a group of Aruba 1920 Access Switches, managed by HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC).

"The Mobility Master feature is significant," says Ravet. "It will ensure high availability and load balancing – basically, it will optimise the network and eliminate downtime."

Productive, accountable, effective and safe

The scale of the solution highlights CSPO's ambition. Whereas, just 52 access points covered the 45,000sqm site with the previous solution, today there are almost 450. Phase 2 will see six satellite sites brought into the network.

Additionally, CSPO is now able to segment network access by different user groups: medical staff, suppliers, medical devices, patients and visitors, and even devices. "CSPO can grant internet access to staff wanting to use their own devices," says Dehon. "And CSPO can properly identify, authenticate and enable each device according to its profile and the role of its user." The CSPO IT team can achieve this by enforcing approved security policies and without having to constantly configure and access network switches and controllers.

Locating user's devices, Dehon continues, is a key benefit. The IT department is able to locate medical devices, beds or trolleys – anything connected to the network, and is implementing an app to help medical staff find and request the nearest item.

"We see lots of opportunities with this level of information," Dehon says. "As we identify patients upon their arrival, we pull up medical records and provision medical equipment 'tagged' to their location. We provide wayfinding guidance to visitors when they arrive, or for outpatients to find and locate their next appointment."

This is part of a broader strategy to create a 'smart' hospital environment and one of the many reasons why CSPO saw a long-term, strategic partner in Aruba. Every patient will be identified, every drug administration will be logged digitally, and up-to-date patient records, including photographic evidence and audio notes, will be accessed from a range of trusted devices, from anywhere with all appropriate security. It will make CSPO more productive, more accountable, more effective and safer.

"Medicine has become a wireless environment," says Dehon. "We're able to respond to that change."

Creating a smart building for a smart hospital

The network upgrade is delivering many non-medical benefits. Tracking hardware will improve maintenance scheduling and smart solutions are in progress around managing lighting, heating and security doors.

CSPO is deploying Microsoft Office 365. This is expected to have a number of impacts on how staff will work and interact. Overall, email traffic should go down by 25% and staff are moving to Skype for Business for more immediate communication. Video calls and Instant Messaging are expected to make communications more direct, personal and responsive. Many desk phones could be phased out which will have significant impacts on saving costs, IT resource provisioning and staff desk deployments.

"We have everything we need to make this happen," says Dehon. "The beauty of the Aruba solution is that we don't need anything extra to configure new additions. Everything is already there and we just have to switch the service on when we need it."

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