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It's Time to Support BYOD on your Hospital Wireless Network

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It's Time to Support BYOD on your Hospital Wireless Network

By: Danny Mareco March 31, 2014 1 Category: Healthcare, Strategy

Healthcare providers deal with more acronyms on a daily basis than there are seats in the United States Congress. Just navigate via the internet right to the “Acronyms in Healthcare” Wikipedia page there are over 30 acronyms that begin with "A".

And we haven’t even made it to acronyms starting with “B”! Oh, but when we do, this little guy seems to cause more debate than Obamacare.

BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) describes a policy movement that can be described as exciting and cost-effective. While BYOD policy adoption can also move IT professionals to shake and shiver like the latest strain of super flu. BYOD seems to generate such passionate debate from both schools of thought, based mainly around security.

While those in California and other technology-driven environments have encountered various forms of BYOD, BYOT or <insert your own acronym> many in more rural areas haven’t had the same amount of passion for wireless connectivity in the healthcare environment...until recently.

Americans have now moved past the tipping point of smartphone ownership, with a 10 percent spike since smartphones became the device of choice in 2012. Even US Citizens over the age of 55 who are most likely to be in need of healthcare services in the near future are no longer “immune” to smartphone ownership.

Smartphone ownership among seniors grew 38% from 2012 to 2013, driving home the need to securely support the growing number of devices that might benefit from a wireless network connection.

And it’s not just the one smartphone device that network administrators are concerned with providing some wireless connectivity. Just look at numbers that indicate many Americans own up to as many as 12 wireless devices. Will they all be brought to a healthcare environment and share the same connectivity expectation? Probably not, but networks should be built to support the user carrying in about 3 devices per person, on average.

So, you can argue that a trauma patient making their way to a hospital wireless network may not have the time or opportunity to grab the iPad, Android smartphone AND their latest eReader before they are loaded into the ambulance. That’s fine. However, they may have a number of wifi-enabled devices connected to their body as they are wheeled into the ER.

Forget “just” the BYOD acronym, here’s another reason healthcare facilities are improving or refreshing their hospital wireless networks and yes, it’s another acronym. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are being utilized to monitor movements of patients and employees, to help improve workflow and processes after collecting and analyzing data over hospital wireless networks.

Get this, (standby for another acronym) University of Florida Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville has utilized Real Time Location Services (RTLS) to track movement of medical equipment and


Forget about the hospital wireless devices that are purpose-built for a medical facility, there’s another growing trend as people move to more closely monitor their own personal health and fitness regimens.

Temperature monitoring. Shands’ emergency department reported improved staff efficiency as well as a reported 98.8% reduction in hours spent searching for missing items, and a 99.3% reduction in lost items because they are able to visualize the location of tagged devices over the healthcare wireless network.

No acronym associated to this one (yet) but, “wearable tech” demand continues to grow, many of the devices will have wireless capabilities. Some early estimates put the wearable tech industry at $5 Billion today and project growth upwards to $50 Billion in 3-5 years time.

Bottom line moving forward for any network administrator is the ability to support multiple users with multiple devices connecting (or at least expecting to connect) securely and providing the same user experience on the same wireless network while giving priority to mission-critical functions. If you don’t feel confident that your hospital wireless network can support BYOD, or any other acronym, you should begin the discussion, ASAP.

The time to prepare for BYOD is now.

The team here at SecurEdge has worked with many hospitals and other healthcare facilities with the digital transformation, and we’re experts when it comes to large, complex wireless network systems. If your're considering a BYOD solution, please contact us here, to ask questions and get started.

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