PGH Networks

Aruba wins battle with Cisco for the Wi-Fi ‘hearts and minds’ of Ensign

Move to electronic medical records prompted Ensign’s decision to deploy Wi-Fi network
July 17, 2013 | By 

Ensign Services, a provider of back office services to the Ensign Group health care facilities and other health care organizations, wanted to move to an electronic medical records system and enable the use of clinical applications software.

To do that, Ensign began looking to deploy a Wi-Fi solution that could enable the EMR system and clinical applications. In addition, the company wanted to offer wireless access to the Internet, email and other applications and services for patients and residents, as well as to gaming systems that are used for both recreational and rehabilitative purposes.

Ryan Rushton, director of IT for Ensign Services, told FierceMobileIT that he evaluated Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN) for its Wi-Fi vendor. “The big push for us was knowing that we were converting to an electronic medical records platform so we had to find a solution to be able to support secure wireless communications … A side benefit of that would be able to provide guest wireless access for our residents and customers,” Rushton explained.

“We held long conversations with Aruba’s and Cisco’s engineers. From a technology standpoint, they both seemed pretty close to each other in terms of capabilities and reliability. Ultimately, Aruba was less expensive than Cisco. Having had a lot of experience with Cisco, I knew that post-purchase support would have been expensive,” Rushton told FierceMobileIT.

“I knew that Aruba’s skilled service engineers would come out and spend some time working with us to make sure we had architected a good environment and to help support us, at least during the initial rollout phase. I know that with Cisco I would have had to use a third party vendor that would have been charging me a good chunk of money. That weighed pretty heavily into the final decision,” Rushton explained.

After evaluating the two vendors closely, Ensign selected Aruba to deploy two separate networks–one for internal use by employees and the other for patients and guests. Rushton said that Ensign uses Aruba controllers at each of Ensign’s skilled nursing facilities so that they can physically separate the two networks.

Ensign has 130 operating locations, including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities, hospice companies, home health businesses and urgent care clinics in 11 states.