Cabling for Healthcare is a Critical Concern

Whether you are designing an infrastructure for a single doctor’s office or a healthcare campus, the cabling and connectivity you select for the network becomes a critical factor for a healthy network. Today’s healthcare applications are running at higher bandwidths and higher speeds due to both the size of graphical files used for today’s advanced medical imaging and the need to have files transported to many locations at lightning speeds.  Luckily there are standards and guidelines in place to help.

Both TIA and BICSI have updated their healthcare standards to address the changing needs of this environment: ANSI/TIA-1179-A (2017), Healthcare Facility Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard and ANSI-BICSI -004-2018, Information Communication Technology Systems Design and Implementation Best Practices for Healthcare Institutions and Facilities.  The TIA standard provides a guidance on cabling, distances, pathways and spaces, whereas BICSI offers design guidelines on healthcare system topologies. 

TIA was updated to synchronize with TIA-568.1-D standards on evolving cable and connectivity solutions (such as recommending Category 6A for copper installations and OM3, OM4 or OM5 for fiber) and to include reference to ANSI/TIA 862-B for intelligence building systems and ANSI/TIA 5017 for security requirements (refer to our own Standards’ Informant for specifics on TIA changes). The newest BICSI-004-2018 standard augments system design guidelines to now include wireless (including radio and RFID), digital signage and network security, and it provides detailed layouts and options for spaces such as telecom rooms.

Cabling System Cures

The impact of multiple IP technologies, combined with various integrated cabling systems and stringent healthcare regulations, is enough to give ICT designers a headache.  However, here are some best cabling practices and Siemon products to keep in mind when deploying cabling systems in the healthcare environment.

  • Zone Enclosures – The revised TIA-1179-A standard now recognizes zone cabling topology. Zone cabling will limit the horizontal runs from the TR by placing an intermediary cross connection. Since it is difficult and costly to make moves, adds and changes in a healthcare facility due to codes and ICR (Infection Control Regulations), a zone enclosure will allow easy access when changing or adding a cabling run or a new device. This includes Siemon’s 24-Port MAX® Zone Enclosure or larger 96-Port Passive Zone Ceiling Enclosure, which both accept either copper or fiber modules.
  • Siemon’s Z-MAX® Category 6A F/UTP and TERA® 7A Shielded Copper Cabling Systems – Shielded cable provides better performance and headroom for high-bandwidth copper applications, better immunity to RFI or EMI and better dissipation of heat when running PoE through twisted pair. This is especially critical in a healthcare environment that may expose cabling to the detrimental effects of high magnetic fields from a variety of medical devices.
  • XGLO® and LightSystem® Fiber Systems and Assemblies: To support high-speed applications, and the need for more bandwidth and noise immunity, fiber is an ideal choice for backbone cabling, as well as FTTD where fiber may need to connect directly to a device.  Siemon offers many options including cable, field terminated connectors, and pre-terminated trunks and assemblies.
  • Ruggedized MAX® & Z-MAX® outlets and modular patch cords:  Many of areas of a healthcare facility—from the lab to the operating room—are considered harsh environments due to wash downs and chemicals. Industrial housings with chemical-resistant thermoplastic housing and an IP66/IP67-rated seal protect plug and outlet contacts from dust, moisture, vibration, and chemicals. Siemon also offers IP44-rated stainless steel faceplates with rear sealing gaskets to keep moisture and debris out.
  • Z-PLUG™ Field-Terminated Plug: Siemon’ s Z-PLUG supports MPTLs (Modified Plug Terminated Links) that enable custom-length direct connections to wireless access points, security cameras, LED lights, distributed antenna systems (DAS), building automation devices and any other IP-based and PoE-enabled devices. The fully-shielded Z-PLUG exceeds all Category 6A performance requirements and is compliant with UL 2043 for use in plenum air handling spaces, and it can be ordered with color-coded clips to differentiate applications.

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