February 28, 2013

The State of Wireless Networking in Healthcare: A Global Healthcare Study

In a recent survey conducted by Enterasys, we asked leading healthcare organizations about the current state of wireless networking within their hospitals and how they are planning to support biomedical devices, patient and clinician BYOD while still maintaining a secure network infrastructure.

Patients Accessing Wireless Networking

Although many results fall in line with what today’s healthcare CIO would expect for the migration of the wireless network within the clinical environment, some results were downright astounding.  According to our survey, there are still 30% of hospitals that currently do not offer Wi-Fi to patients and guests.  In this day of ubiquitous mobility, it is amazing that a global survey of wireless networking trends tells us there is still such a lack of support for patient access to Wi-Fi while in the hospital.   If your hospital is focused on improving patient care, safety, and providing a better patient experience, you cannot ignore the success many hospitals have seen by allowing patient access to Wi-Fi.  However, with new regulations regarding the accessing of hospital resources using personally-owned devices, CIO’s may be a concerned with supporting these devices on the life-critical wireless network, mostly due to the liability increase for data breaches and the financial ramifications associated with such situations.  These concerns should not overshadow the studies that show patient satisfaction scores increase over 10% when enabling interactive technologies such as those that require wireless networking.  Interactive patient technology gives patients faster access to hospital staff and services as well as a portal to stay in touch with loved ones while in the hospital.

In order to fully embrace wireless connectivity for patients, guests, and clinically-owned devices at the point of care, healthcare IT must have a way to enforce mobile device management and location-based access policies.  However, our study shows that 32% of hospitals are not using technology to enforce their BYOD policies.  There are unique risks involved with BYOD in healthcare including the fact that if a BYOD program is implemented improperly, the errors can be costly because the HITECH Act enforces HIPAA rules which will increase financial penalties for violations and breaches in patient data security.  So, the fact that 32% of hospitals are still not using an identity and access management solution which includes integration to mobile device management is mind boggling to say the least.

Social Media: An Emerging Healthcare Trend

Our study  of the state of wireless technologies in healthcare was not completely gloomy.  A very encouraging result tells us that 28% of hospitals are currently embracing social media for clinical use.   We all have searched Google and WebMD for medical information, but to be able to access physicians and clinical experts via social media is a trend that will not be going away anytime soon.  In addition to gaining access to medical experts, hospitals should really care about what patients are saying about them in social media.  In a recent study conducted by DC Interactive Group, 44% of people said they would share positive or negative experiences of a hospital or medical facility, and 42% said they wouldn’t hesitate to post comments about a doctor, nurse or healthcare provider on social media.  Where does this leave the healthcare CIO? Well, if they are not active on social media, they are in the dark.  Our own Vala Afshar published a blog on the Huffington Post just a few weeks ago entitled For Health Care CIOs, The Social Media Landscape Is a Ghost Town which noted that only 1 in 5 CIOs on Twitter are from healthcare.  Perhaps it’s time for that to change to support this growing trend.

Globally, the US is ahead of other countries almost across the board.  The most glaring example of this is in regards to biomedical device integration.  Currently, the US leads all others globally in regards to the number of biomedical devices accessing the wireless networking infrastructure, 71% vs 37%, respectively.

Wireless Networking Coverage is Everything!

Another surprising result is that 37% of respondents said they are not happy with the coverage provided by their installed Wi-Fi network.  Even though 63% said their Wi-Fi is critical to meeting government regulations.   With the huge benefits of ubiquitous wireless coverage in the way of biomedical device support, VoIP deployment for clinician mobility, and physician/clinical BYOD, it is indeed surprising that this significant number of respondents feel that their wireless coverage is still not enough even if it is critical to meeting regulations that will financially benefit or penalize them otherwise.


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<div style=”width: 720px”> <a href=”http://blogs.enterasys.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/3673-Healthcare-Infographic_v2-sm.jpg” /> <img src=”http://blogs.enterasys.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/3673-Healthcare-Infographic_v2-sm.jpg” alt=”Healthcare Survey Infographic” /></a><br/> Infographic authored by <a href=”http://www.enterasys.com/”>Enterasys Networks</a>. To view the original post, see the original <a href=”http://blogs.enterasys.com/the-state-of-wireless-networking-in-healthcare-a-global-healthcare-study/”>The State of Wireless Networking in Healthcare: A Global Healthcare Study</a>.</div>

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