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January 25

Immunizing Against Poor Wireless at the Hospital

Nosocomephobia – it’s the fear of hospitals. Almost everyone suffers from Nosocomephobia to a degree. For some, it’s a mild fear of discomfort or a hefty bill. For others, it’s a certainty that visiting a hospital will make them more ill than they already are.

While some fear that hospitals are teeming with bacteria and viruses, one thing hospitals are certainly saturated with is wireless signals. In fact, hospitals are absolute breeding grounds for applications of the Internet of Things (IoT). In any given care center, you’ll see connected devices for monitoring vital signs, displaying visual information, queuing appointments, and managing prescriptions, billing and inventory.

 That’s because IoT is transforming the healthcare landscape as we know it. With the potential to reduce costs in an expensive industry, and save lives while doing it, healthcare providers are jumping at the opportunity to implement wireless technology wherever they can.

 And as anyone who’s been packed in a dense setting could guess, the wireless waves from all those devices don’t always play together nicely. In a healthcare setting, this can be deeply disrupting. Imagine a doctor hosting an urgent teleconference with colleagues at another hospital, unable to communicate because of choppy video and intermittent audio. Or a remote monitoring device that fails to alert staff of a problem because it lost and couldn’t reestablish a connection with the rest of the network.

 These interruptions are a real possibility, and the realities of healthcare settings only exacerbate the issue. Medical facilities are often full of dense equipment and shielded for patient privacy, but this predictably interferes with wireless signals. Saturation of Wi-Fi signals and interference are a particular offender. The nature of wireless connections don’t help either. When a device fails to connect to an access point, it boosts its signal in an attempt to find one, even further increasing the wireless noise.

 Hospitals and medical offices have taken to drastic measures to prevent this from happening, including banning personal wireless devices so that essential medical devices have a better chance of staying connected. With increasing adoption of wireless devices and prevailing integration of wireless devices in society in general, these measures are starting to look as antiquated as leeching.

 In fact, our recent workplace connectivity survey showed that healthcare employees were the most likely of any field to use mobile devices to communicate, with phones and tablets facilitating communications across a plethora of healthcare functions. Combined with increasingly popular BYOD practices (not unique to just the healthcare industry), simply ignoring or banning wireless devices isn’t an option.

 So what should healthcare facilities do to protect against this threat? The treatment comes in the form of distributed antenna system (DAS) technology. A DAS installation is ideal for any healthcare application where wireless technology is essential for operation. By evenly distributing wireless access throughout the facility, a DAS provides reliable connectivity while keeping device signal strength in control. By providing the wireless connectivity required, the DAS enables connected devices to reduce their signal output below the “immunity” threshold considered safe for medical connected equipment.

 To learn more about wireless connectivity in the healthcare setting, and methods to remedy poor wireless conditions, have a look at Zinwave’s latest ebook for healthcare. There, healthcare IT decision makers can learn more about the symptoms of wireless overload, and step-by-step instructions on how to identify the correct medicine to cure the ailment.

 By enabling healthcare staff, patients and visitors’ mobile devices, a DAS provides immunity against healthcare facilities rife with wireless signals. With this improved connectivity, the quality of care for patients will go up and operations will be streamlined, and hopefully we’ll all have one less reason to experience Nosocomephobia!

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