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Making free Wi-Fi available in dental practices

in Business and Dentistry

Making free Wi-Fi available in dental practices

Milan Chande graduated from the University of Manchester in 2014. “As a passionate user of technology, I feel there are many ways in which Young Dentists can help improve the level of service offered to patients at dental practices.”

The article is about the provision of free Wi-Fi in dental practices. It highlights the significant challenges associated with the provision and show’s a guide on how to make sure you provide safe and secure Wi-Fi to patients. It also highlights how this can all be done without compromising the security of a dental practice’s private network.

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi in the retail and commercial environment is extremely popular, with the vast majority of retail stores making it available.  Young Dentist’s are in a unique position of understanding the needs of customer satisfaction through the use of free Wi-Fi.  Customers regularly are in a position when they walk into a shop or other venue and we are pleased that we are able to use the free Wi-Fi that is available. I’m sure that you may have been pleased to use free Wi-Fi previously.

Patients often wait 10-15 minutes in the Dental Practice’s waiting room for a clinician to see them. When walking through a waiting room, it is quite obvious that a large majority of the patients are using their mobile phones to surf the Internet or using other apps on their phones.

This creates an opportunity for dental practices to provide free Wi-Fi to their patients to allow them to have a better experience surfing the Internet whilst waiting to be seen. It must also be remembered that patients are often very nervous whilst sitting in the waiting room; therefore providing them with free Wi-Fi can help distract their minds before entering the dental surgery.

With cyber attacks becoming ever more prevalent, it is important to consider the security of the dental practices network before allowing patients to access the same Internet connection as the practice. This is to ensure that all data in the practice computers and server’s is kept secure and out of the hands of malicious users.

Providing free Wi-Fi to patients must include the following criteria:

-          It must not slow down your private dental network, however it must provide consumers with an adequate level of service.

-          It must not compromise the security of your network.

-          It must not provide patients access to data on your private network.

-          The network must be secure for patients to use.


The Dental Network

Data stored on the private network of a dental practice is very significant and therefore all steps must be taken to ensure that it is secure. The network that needs to be created to allow free Wi-Fi must be separate from the existing dental network.

Data stored in a dental practice could include dental records; radiographs and other images and breach of this data could seriously put patients at risk. Practices may also store confidential business information and documents about staff on their computers, thus a breach of this data could also put their staff and the business at whole at risk.

Equipment needed

Firstly you will need a router that has the ability to broadcast two simultaneous Wi-Fi networks. If in doubt, ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP). All the latest routers available from all the major ISP’s do have this functionality included. Should your router need upgrading, ISP’s will happily do this for a low fee or free of charge.  An alternative route to take is to provide another wireless network using another router with a different name and password. However care must be taken to ensure that no sensitive data is shared for people to access when connecting to the network.

Password for free Wi-Fi Network

One of the first things to think about is whether a password is needed. It is strongly recommended that a password is used. A password based on the WPA2 standard is recommended. When setting up the new Wi-Fi network, WPA2 should be selected as the security mechanism of the password.

A sign should be placed in the practice near the reception stating that free Wi-Fi is available and that they should ask if they would like access.  Reception staff should provide the Wi-Fi password to all patients requesting it. This reduces the risk of people using the data around the practice, such as local houses or other businesses.

Setting up the Free Wi-Fi Network

To set up the new Wi-Fi network, you must firstly go web based configuration page of the router. To do this, please consult the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to access it. It may be password protected, with the username and password provided in the manual.

After entering the web-based configuration, there should be an option to create a guest Wi-Fi. This should be created and an appropriate password set using the WPA2 standard.

If you are creating a new network with a new router, plug an Ethernet wire from the existing network into the WAN socket in the new router. This will allow data and the Internet to be shared. The router should then be configured using the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring a secure password is chosen.

After setting up the new free Wi-Fi network, it must be tested. Connect to the network with your smartphone and other devices and then try to see if it is possible to access data from the server on your device. Only when you are happy that the new Wi-Fi network is secure and safe, should it be offered for patients to use.

Sharing Internet Access

Consideration should be given to the speed of Internet service currently received by the practice. As sharing an Internet connection with patients will reduce the amount of speed available to the practice. Therefore it is important that before provision of free Wi-Fi can be made to patients, checks are made to the speed of the Internet that the practice currently receives. Usually any speed above 10mb is satisfactory to use for the dental practice and to share with patients.

However if the current speed of Internet is below the 10mb threshold, an investigation should be undertaken by speaking to your Internet service provider about the possibility of increasing the speed. If  an Internet service above 10mb is not obtainable, then providing free Wi-Fi may not be possible, as the reduced speed of Internet will start to affect the productivity of the practice.

Why should you as a Young Dentist get involved?

Over the last few years, technology has played a huge part in all our lives. With enormous sales of the latest gadgets such as smartphones, smart TVs and other connected devices.

As a young dentist, your experiences in dentistry will probably be less than your work colleagues. However your knowledge and expertise in technology will probably be the most relevant and up to date in the practice. Therefore you are in a unique position to offer advice to improve the level of service to patient's attending your practice. You’re also in a position to understand cyber security and learn about it if you have any doubts.

Offering Free Wi-Fi is a simple, affordable solution for practices to employ to increase the level of service they offer to patients. It gives young dentists an opportunity to lead a project in delivering a better service to patients, whilst they are at a dental practice. Not only will it be of benefit for patients, it will also be of benefit to you, as it will give you an opportunity to show your seniors your leadership skills.


Offering free Wi-Fi  is a sensible solution to improving customer satisfaction in dental practices. It allows patients to relax and enjoy content on their smartphones and tablets whilst they are waiting for their dentist. It will also distract and relax them before seeing their dentist.

The relative simplicity and low cost of such a project makes it ideal to quickly implement in dental practices. It also gives young dentists an opportunity to lead on a project in their practice and become an integral part of the dental team.

Therefore I would advise you all to speak to the head of your practice  to ascertain if such a roll out can be feasible and if so, take the lead.


Milan Chande


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