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Wireless Technology Implementation In Hospitals

Written by Emily Couch A recent buzz among leaders in the healthcare industry is the rapid pace of the implementation of wireless technology in hospita...

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|Apr 5|magazine12 min read

Written by Emily Couch

A recent buzz among leaders in the healthcare industry is the rapid pace of the implementation of wireless technology in hospitals. If you research your options you will find a bevy of articles that explain how wireless technology is good, bad, or the same as current technology. Will new technology aid in a solution regarding the loss of time, money and resources?

Patient safety, time management, accuracy of patient information and billing are said to be the top areas of contention between doctors, nurses, patients, and administrative staff.  Wireless technology can improve the way patient information is stored, shared, and accessed saving time and money while increasing communication efficiency.  There is constant need for improvement in the healthcare industry and the implementation of wireless technology is an apparent step toward the future of healthcare.

Why Wireless Technology Works

Wireless technology has its more obvious benefits. Many hospitals still rely on paper charts. By implementing wireless technology doctors and nurses no longer have to track down a patient’s chart that may be sitting at the nurses’ station. Granting instant access to patient information instead of relying on manual charts not only saves time but can also result in saving a life. The use of Personal Data Assistants (PDA ‘s) allow doctors and nurses to update patient information automatically so that anyone tracking the progress of a patient will have up-to-date access to vital information.  Additionally, when a doctor enters a procedure or plan on a patient’s chart, the billing system will update with the correct records aiding to more precise care and allowing for less billing errors. Changing the way patient information is stored, shared, and accessed grants a quicker response time for faster treatment so that staff can service more patients in a given time period.

The less obvious benefits of wireless technology implementation help to provide a solution for lost time, money and resources. Using location based services on vital hospital equipment that tends to get lost easily such as wheelchairs and surgical equipment, allows for the efficient use of assets. This not only saves the time of staff that are sent to look for the missing item but also saves money when the equipment is accurately located.

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Challenges

Wireless technology does not come without its challenges. Planning errors seem to be at the forefront of the dilemma hospitals can find themselves in after the implementation of wireless technology. Healthcare providers can practice poor judgment during the planning stages of wireless technology implementation in their facilities, like not giving full consideration on whether a particular wireless device is the best for their situation or not taking the time to test the equipment. Without a full understanding of budget expenditures and the functionality and limitations of new resources, healthcare providers could unnecessarily hinder progress in their facility and put their patients in danger. The eagerness of new technology is a common feeling amongst healthcare providers, but patient safety should come first. Improperly trained staff could make obvious errors or bypass the use of the equipment all together because they are simply not comfortable using it.

Technology is not foolproof. Even with proper staff training in place, systems can crash and something as basic as malfunctioning of equipment could possibly lead to a loss of life. Not to mention the fact that equipment can break leaving doctors and nurses without access to patient information.  If a PDA is lost or stolen, patient information could be illegally accessed.

Meeting Challenges

It’s important for healthcare providers to remember that many wireless systems are not necessarily designed with the patients’ safety in mind. A risk assessment can prevent some of the aforementioned challenges. The key point to remember is that healthcare providers need to take their time when researching and implementing wireless technology in their facilities. Assessing the needs of their facility and its limitations including any structural issues that may prevent the wireless technology from working, is vital. Routine equipment testing and staff training can help to prevent any equipment malfunction or staff entry errors.

The benefits of wireless technology can outweigh the risks involved. If the proper steps are taken to ensure that the right equipment and training are in place, the benefits could be substantial.  Mobile technology combines the advantages of paper charts and desktop computers in their portabilityand support for information access anywhere, anytime. The result is the level of patient care is increased and the hospital saves time, money, and resources.