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Survey: How Hospitals are Meeting the Demand for Wireless Networking

June 9, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Healthcare delivery organizations are faced with growing technology demands in today’s connected healthcare environment, and many hospitals view wireless connectivity as critical to improving the overall patient experience, as well as enhancing hospital efficiency.

According to a survey of 100 healthcare IT professionals conducted by Extreme Networks, hospital are leveraging wireless for many purposes, but the majority (77 percent) are using Wi-Fi for guest access as well as for clinical communications (66 percent). The survey findings also show that hospitals are using wireless for medical devices (52 percent), medical records (55 percent) and other purposes (14 percent).

Extreme Networks conducted the survey to gauge the status and trends of hospital Wi-Fi use in 2016.

Hospital IT professionals cited a number of concerns and challenges as it relates to the use of wireless in hospitals, such as security/compliance (34 percent), performance (28 percent), critical availability (19 percent) and coverage (14 percent).

The survey also found an overall trend of hospitals offering free Wi-Fi access to patients and guests, as 85 percent of hospital do this, compared with only 5 percent offering paid access. Additionally, 37 percent of hospital IT professionals said their hospitals have already implemented patient apps, with 16 percent of respondents saying that their hospitals were planning to develop patient apps and 22 percent considering implementing apps.

About two-thirds of hospitals connect medical devices using wireless networks and less than half (42 percent) use network access control (NAC) to isolate and monitor medical devices by manufacturer and type.

Hospital IT professionals cite improving physicians’ access to information as the biggest benefit of using smart phones in the hospital, as well as enhancing communication, collaboration and care coordination. Those benefits were cited by 50 percent and 40 percent of respondents, respectively. And, 7 percent of respondents cited streamlining interdisciplinary workflow processes as a benefit to using smart phones.

“Based on the collected survey data, we may conclude that wireless in hospitals is primarily being used for clinical applications and guest access, but this is expected to change. One of the most noticeable ways that hospitals have begun leveraging wireless in the workplace is through the use of mobile devices to replace paper records and legacy communications. These technological advances can help improve clinical workflow, allowing staff to operate as a more effective team for patient care,” the survey authors wrote, according to an Extreme Networks press release.

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