May 07, 2013

Two-thirds of UK Hospitals don’t offer Wi-Fi to Patients

NHS staff are also banned by 82% of NHS Trusts from bringing their own mobile devices to work

A recent Freedom of Information Act request by Enterasys shows that in the UK, almost two-thirds (64%) of National Health Service (NHS) trusts still don’t offer Wi-Fi to patients while they recuperate in a hospital bed.  These patients are forced to pay higher prices for TV, Internet, and phone usages as opposed to being able to utilze their own mobile devices.  In additon to patients, clinicians are largely banned from bringing and using their own mobile devices at work.  Here are some excerpts from the article by Wireless Magazine:

Harley Street psychotherapist, Jennifer Dew MSc Psych, Dip Psch (couns), MBACP (accred) argues that patients who can regularly access family and friends using personal devices while they recuperate suffer less from isolation and loneliness and are more likely to make a speedier recovery. 

Dew said: ‘It’s important for patients to easily communicate with their loved ones from their hospital bed – and using their own device is by far the easiest option for them. If access to Wi-Fi helps to make some patients get better sooner, what’s not to like?’

As government budgets are being squeezed further, NHS Trusts are being urged to reduce patients’ length of stay (LoS) to save money. According to the Department of Health, the average day bed cost in the UK is £400.  

The survey of 78 acute NHS trusts also found that the lack of Wi-Fi being offered to patients extended to NHS staff. 82% of NHS Trusts don’t permit staff to connect personal devices to the hospital Wi-Fi network. Meanwhile, just 10% of NHS Trusts have a formal BYOD policy for staff in place today. 

Mark Pearce, strategic alliance director at Enterasys Networks said: ‘There are so many ways that W-Fi can be used to benefit patients as well as staff in the healthcare sector, yet it’s one of the slowest to seize the opportunity that BYOD offers. The public has a growing appetite to be connected, and the technology is there to make it happen securely, safely and reliably.’

Pearce believes that if the UK Government really wants to invest in and improve the NHS, incentivising trusts to open their Wi-Fi networks and expand connectivity is an inexpensive way to make a huge difference to each and every patient experience.Enterasys_-_NHS_patient_with_iPad

He concluded: ‘The key to making this a success would be a robust strategy for hospitals to allow mobile devices to connect safely and securely – a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.’

In contrast to many NHS Trust, the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is leading the way in the move to offer Wi-Fi to patients. Its intensive care patients are using specially adapted iPads to keep in touch with their families (pictured).

Enterasys has worked with many NHS trusts to help them leverage Wi-Fi for better patient care and an improved patient experience.  Barts & The London NHS Trust allows 7000 users and 5000 devices connected to their network.  Find out how they accomplished this by visiting their networking video case study.

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