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Wireless in Healthcare

December 16, 2008
by daphne
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Yesterday, I logged onto an HCI webinar on “Wireless in Healthcare, and I’m glad I attended the webinar, because it was very informative, and told me a lot about using wireless in the healthcare setting. It featured three speakers: Jeff Schou, the Sr. Director of the Global Healthcare Solutions Group for Motorola Inc., Greg Knight, Wireless Network Architect for the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Health System, and finally, Dr. Amit Sinha, who is Fellow & Chief Technologist of Motorola's Enterprise Wireless LAN division.

Greg, whose Alabama hospital has 900 beds, talked about his firsthand experience at UAB in implementing wireless system, driven mainly by their core clinical system replacement (Cerner). Real life examples of wireless security risks like rogue access points reminded me of how critical security can be in a hospital, and the operational problems like “slow “ or “disconnected” spoke to real user issues. He also talked about how he went through his selection criteria for the AirDefense system--it’s always useful to hear how someone else decided on a product, especially if you’re out there looking yourself. His operational war stories (like 14 rogues the Monday after Christmas!) were a real wake up call to anyone who is upgrading their wireless.

The webinar started a few minutes after I had just run back to the office from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan and I was still sort of breathless. I was at St. Vincent’s to get a look at their server room, because they’re building a brand new, all digital hospital; though they haven’t broken ground yet, they are doing a lot of behind-the-scenes preliminary work on their IT infrastructure. They’ve gone to virtualization, and their server room (actually offsite, an entire leased floor in a modern building hard on the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan) was an amazing testament to the benefit of virtualization. There were stacks and stacks of servers and equipment now out of commission, replaced by one skinny box that ran the whole show. The CIO and VP of Client Services were justifiably proud—their footprint has shrunk 75 percent, they can move lots more data, and the environmental benefits were smack in my face as I looked at all that out-of-service equipment. It’s a lights out datacenter and it was cool to see all the old backup tapes that actually used to rely on people. Don’t worry, I took lots of pictures, and you’ll be able to see them when I post my virtual hospital tour of St. Vincent’s—it includes a demo patient room for the new hospital they set up in the old hospital that they use it to engage staff in feedback and to generate a sense of excitement about what’s coming. There’s a lot to be excited about because believe me, this digital patient room DOES look like the future.

So that’s what I REALLY wanted to blog about. But hey, guess I just did.

If you want to look at another virtual hospital tour (they’re pretty neat), they’re here. You can listen to the webinar here.

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