When it comes to hospital settings, the number of wireless networks that need to be managed can be daunting. Not only is there the usual assortment of 802.11 wireless networks to support an array of mobile computing devices, there are frequently all kinds of RFID and dedicated wireless network frequencies that need to be managed.
Timed with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference this week, Cisco and GE Healthcare announced today that wireless networking technology from Cisco will be integrated with the AgileTrac process management and asset tracking software that GE developed for the health care industry.
According to Sylvia Hooks, Cisco manager of mobility solutions marketing, the integration of the two companies' technologies means that IT organizations in the health care sector can now leverage one common console to manage disparate types of wireless networks. That not only makes it easier to bring new wireless technologies into hospital environments, it will also reduce the total cost of IT because each network won't require dedicated specialists to manage them.
Hooks said the integration with GE Healthcare technologies is made possible by the inclusion of more open application programming interfaces in Cisco wireless networking equipment. Those APIs should ultimately lead to a tighter coupling of Cisco wireless networking products with a broader array of disparate networking technologies in any number of vertical industries.
As wireless networks increasingly become the primary networks used across the enterprise, integrating them all is going to be a significant challenge given all the frequencies and disparate technologies involved. But unless these issues get resolved, the cost of managing multiple types of wireless networks will get cost prohibitive. It may take a while for all this wireless networking convergence to come about, but if the Cisco-GE Healthcare alliance is a sign of things to come, progress on this front should start to become apparent pretty rapidly.