A Healthy Wireless Network Can Make or Break New Health Initiatives for Hospitals
The future of healthcare rests with successful integrations of cutting-edge technologies, but this will require robust and secure wireless networks.
Political tussles over health insurance policy have dominated the public conversation about healthcare in the United States for the better part of a decade. Lost in these important discussions, though, has been the complete transformation of the healthcare industry from volume-driven to outcome-driven care.
As a 2013 article published in the Harvard Business Review argued, the American healthcare system needs a fundamentally new approach to care, one directed toward “achieving the best outcomes at the lowest cost.” In order to realize this goal, the article continued, “We must shift the focus from the volume and profitability of services provided — physician visits, hospitalizations, procedures, and tests — to the patient outcomes achieved.”
Many healthcare providers (HCPs) have taken a number of very real, very productive steps in the right direction. However, in order for these (and future) healthcare initiatives to succeed in the long run, HCPs must make sure that they prepare their IT infrastructure for the increased demands of new and improving healthcare technologies, especially their wireless networks. If supported correctly, these innovations have the potential to cement the switch from volume- to outcome-driven care.
The Tremendous Value of Digitized Healthcare
The adoption of electronic health records (EHR) is perhaps the most prominent example of how technology-based initiatives can deliver remarkable results for patients. Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economics and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) in 2009 in order to incentivize the adoption of EHR. At the time, there was very little “meaningful use” of EHR among major healthcare providers.
As of 2016, 99% of large hospitals, 98% of medium-sized hospitals, and 91% of small hospitals had achieved meaningful EHR use. This rapid digitization of health records has enabled large numbers of hospital patients to view information from their medical records at home (95.1%), transmit care and referral summaries to a third party HCP (86.8%), pay their healthcare-related bills (74.1%), securely interface with their HCP (63.0%), and much more. Access to these options has made being a patient much easier and much less stressful than even a few years ago.
The full value of EHR systems only comes into view when considered in the context of connected medical devices, however. For example, when an EHR system is synched up with a series of connected telemetry devices, the time it takes for a physician or nurse to document a patient’s vital signs drops from seven or ten minutes to less than one minute.
This incredible efficiency is a large part of the reason why the medical-related Internet of Things (IoT) has become a fixture in modern hospitals virtually overnight. Recent research indicates that the global connected medical device market will reach $1.34 billion by 2021. That figure is not entirely surprising considering that a large hospital can include as many as 85,000 connected devices (physiological monitors, mobile medical applications, MRI/CT/ultrasound scanners, and so on) on top of its standard computer systems.
Building a Sufficient Hospital Network
The future of healthcare rests with ambitious initiatives that integrate patient-centered care with cutting-edge technologies. Unfortunately, the bandwidth demands of these technologies often outpace the IT resources and infrastructure to which hospitals have access, and poor network performance can be debilitating in a healthcare setting. As Aruba Networks’ Product Marketing Manager Rick Reid puts it, “The network has to be extremely reliable because it’s literally life or death. You have to plan coverage capacity, backup systems, and application intelligence just to make sure that things work — and that they work 24/7.”
Designing, deploying, and managing a wireless network capable of handling the demands of the modern hospital can be a challenge even for experienced IT professionals. That’s why Turn-key Technologies has spent over 25 years honing our expertise in healthcare IT systems.
Moving forward, new healthcare initiatives will only become more dependent upon robust and secure networks. By partnering with TTI’s industry experts to develop a network infrastructure that supports all of its high-priority devices and systems, a hospital can ensure that it has everything it needs to provide forward-thinking, patient-centered care.