Wireless Technologies Are Changing the World of Health Care

Kim Mays

Despite the strict regulations on data that are placed on the health care market, many hospitals and doctors are finding efficiencies with the use of wireless technologies. The latest in cloud-based systems and new Wi-Fi standards is helping even complex hospital environments improve upon patient care and staff work flows.

Wireless RFID tags help track the location of nurses and other staff in some hospitals, enabling managers to improve processes and ensure efficient use of their skilled workers. RFID tags placed on equipment such as IV pumps and monitors ensure equipment is where it should be, when it should be there. And later, tracking the data of equipment usage allows the hospitals to find inefficiencies in its resource usages and correct them.

The book “Wi-Fi Enabled Healthcare,” provides many other examples of Wi-Fi usage in health care settings. It outlines design issues and details challenges that health care businesses face with the usage of wireless Internet and devices. The book covers topics such as:

  • Brief history of Wi-Fi
  • Wireless architecture considerations
  • Preparation for a wireless site survey
  • Wi-Fi security
  • Wireless guest services

In our downloads area, chapter 6 of this publication is available for reading. This chapter covers mobile medical devices, including testing of devices and the network, failover and redundancy issues, and various devices that can use Wi-Fi, including:

  • Mobile X-ray machines
  • Medication dispensing systems
  • IV pumps
  • Ultrasound devices
  • Hemodialysis machines

The use of these plus tablets, laptops and smartphones enable real-time connectivity among hospital staff. At any time, equipment can be located and reallocated when necessary. Staff can be moved to critical sites in an emergency and they can see, at a glance, where vital equipment is located. Through all of this, patient care can be made quick and more effective.

The chapter continually reinforces the need for security and redundancy. Systems must be kept running and secure through all areas of the hospital or health care site:

When it comes to patient data, securing medical devices and their data is vital to providing safe and effective healthcare. As Wi-Fi is growing the risks associated with the technology are inherent and are becoming more lucrative for hackers to try and take advantage of. Some of these risks are associated with security, availability, quality of service (QoS), and privacy. As the healthcare industry continues to expand and enter the ever-growing wireless space, including patient monitoring equipment, physicians’ PDAs and laptops, and wireless-enabled medical devices, the risks associated with their use also rise. Some healthcare organizations have stayed ahead by deploying secured wireless networks for their medical devices. They often have to tweak their network to accommodate nonstandard or legacy medical devices.

The book is an educational tool for any health care organization looking to move toward becoming more Wi-Fi friendly. It is also helpful for current hospitals or doctors’ offices where the IT staff is considering updates or ways to further use wireless technologies to make work flows more efficient.

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