Dental Clinics Expand and Open on Time Nationwide with Day-1 LTE Solutions
Success Story Highlights
Challenge — Considering the brisk rate that this nationwide dental care provider rolls out care facilities all over the U.S., the company recognized it could not risk opening day delays due to lengthy and unpredictable wait times for fiber line installation.
Solution — In its widely distributed branch dental clinics, the company chose LTE for day-1 connectivity. It leverages Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for Branch, which includes extensive cloud functionality delivered through dual-modem, 5G Ready AER2200 routers.
Benefits — The organization’s small IT team uses Cradlepoint’s cloud-managed solutions to get new dental offices connected to the Internet and corporate network immediately — keeping opening day deadlines fulfilled and the bottom line protected.
Background and Challenges
With nearly 1,000 dental clinics all over the U.S., this nationwide dental care provider opens dozens of new locations every year. In these offices, everything from PCs and the patient management system to Point-of-Sale devices and X-ray machines require connectivity.
The company’s IT team needed the ability to set up network access immediately, even amid several key challenges — and they began considering cloud-managed cellular broadband connectivity.
Lengthy Wait Time for Fiber Lines — With strict deadlines in place and revenue at stake, Aspen Dental can’t afford to wait around for fiber lines to be provisioned.
“Because of our aggressive schedule for opening new offices, we often can’t get hardwire connectivity within the timeframe we need,” said the senior IT manager for this nationwide dental care provider.
Patient appointments for these dental branches are booked months in advance, which means the IT team absolutely cannot allow opening day to be delayed.
Uncertain Network Performance — This dental care provider’s IT professionals needed to ensure critical clinic applications have consistent, high-performance WAN availability at all times — anywhere in the U.S.
“Without consistent connectivity, our dental offices essentially can’t do anything,” the senior IT manager said.
Ever-Changing WAN Scenarios — From office preparation to opening day to the subsequent months and years, these dental offices’ WAN needs and options are anything but static. The organization knew it needed a future-proof solution that could accommodate multiple types of WAN links, as well as multiple cellular carriers.
Security Risks of Highly Sensitive Patient Data — Like any care provider, this organization is tasked with protecting highly sensitive patient information and must adhere to strict HIPAA regulations. Each clinic also processes credit card transactions, so PCI DSS guidelines must be followed, too.
Lack of On-Site IT Staff for Router Deployments — With four IT professionals supporting hundreds of existing and soon-toopen offices, it wasn’t logistically or financially feasible to send an in-house expert to set up an edge networking solution at each site.
Additionally, it wouldn’t be possible for the IT team to monitor and manage connectivity, configuration changes, and other updates at all of those offices going forward.
The sheer frequency of these clinic openings called for an edge networking solution that could be installed easily, without tech professionals on-site; provided optimized and flexible LTE connectivity immediately; supported multiple WAN types and cellular carriers; and allowed the IT team to remotely adjust configurations for any location.
This nationwide dental care provider implemented Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service for Branch, delivered through purpose-built 5G Ready SD-WAN routers with two LTE modems. The service includes routing, WAN link termination and traffic management, multi-WAN support, security, and cloud configuration and troubleshooting.
Day-1 Network Access Through High-Performance LTE
LTE-based broadband is up and running at each clinic on day 1, leveraging Cradlepoint’s plug-and-play solutions — preconfigured via zero-touch deployment features — that an office manager can set up in a couple minutes without on-site IT support.
The edge routers’ dual modems enable load balancing, providing ample bandwidth for each branch’s devices and applications. Because each modem has two SIM slots, the company also has three carriers loaded at all times. If NetCloud’s LTE dashboards indicate faltering performance, an IT professional at headquarters can instantly swap to a different carrier at that location without requiring a router reboot.
“Cradlepoint’s dual-modem branch solutions give us better performance, lower latency, and the ability to connect everything in our clinics,” the senior IT manager said.
Built-In Multi-WAN Flexibility
The wait time for fiber provisioning could be six weeks, six months, or anywhere in between. Each branch office relies on dual-modem, multi-carrier LTE until the fiber line is ready to use. At that time, the IT team centrally switches the configuration of Cradlepoint’s multi-WAN router to prioritize wired connectivity as the primary link while retaining LTE to use as failover.
Centralized Visibility and Management
Through NetCloud Manager’s single-pane-of-glass view, the company’s IT team can remotely manipulate configurations and carrier usage with point-and-click ease. They utilize NetCloud’s wide-ranging dashboards, reports, and alerts for actionable insights into connection failures and cellular network performance throughout their large, far-reaching branch footprint.
"We can manage every clinic’s cellular connectivity without having to call anyone. Cradlepoint NetCloud gives us infinite flexibility," the senior IT manager said.
Without NetCloud, the four-person IT staff wouldn’t be able to keep up with the intermittent configuration updates and SIM card adjustments they have to make as each branch’s connectivity factors change.
“NetCloud allows us to manage our entire enterprise with minimal staff,” the senior IT manager said.
Robust and Scalable Network Security
Cradlepoint routers include a built-in zone-based firewall and support easy VPN setup, and NetCloud provides a web content filtering service, powered by Webroot. These features — along with many others, including support for intrusion detection and prevention systems — help this care provider comply with HIPAA and PCI DSS guidelines.