In an environment of rapid technological advances and growing use of wireless devices in hospitals, a clear and detailed wireless strategy is essential to protect against data breaches. That is the view of Eric Abbott, systems director of product management for telecommunications company ExteNet.
“If you don’t have a strategy with respect to wireless services it begs the question: how can you effectively meet your mission statement?” he said. “The absence of a strategy increases the risk to the healthcare organization because you might implement different technologies or processes that don’t align with the mission or even worse introduce unnecessary risk.”
He believes that the mission statement is the best starting point for a wireless strategy, after which it is important to assess your stakeholders and how wireless technology can enhance operations without adding risk. It is important to examine whether there are any deficiencies pertaining to wireless point of care, and what workflow improvements could be achieved. Questions to be asked include: What devices do my clinicians and nurses use? Do all of them have equal perceptions of using wireless? Do they have any concerns? Do they understand the difference between organizational use versus personal use of these devices?
“You also need to look at what happens when the physicians go home at the end of the day,” said Abbott. “Do you want to allow them access to the healthcare enterprise and if so, how? Increasingly physicians using tablets and smartphones might be in a restaurant when they get a call so understanding how you can integrate those devices into your network so that the transactions are secure is important.”
When formulating a wireless strategy you also need to examine the situation from the perspective of patients and visitors, added Abbott. “You need to decide what type of wireless services you should make available to them. You don’t want a teenager coming into an acute care facility and streaming Netflix over the hospital’s wifi network which then ties it up so they can’t use it for other essential life critical services.”
Abbott believes that despite the complexities surrounding the adoption of wifi technologies, the benefits to healthcare are immense.
“Where we’re headed is basically personalised patient centred care where the physician knows almost instantaneously if something’s happening and it’s all done via wireless because people aren’t tethered to a specific building or machine,” he said.
wireless strategy, tips, technological advances, HIT, PHI, BYOD, data breaches