According to a study entitled Critical Needs of Today’s Healthcare System, many healthcare institutions are within two years of purchasing wireless networking. Healthcare Informatics Magazine did a follow-up study, polling 200 of the original 300 healthcare executives and upper-level management surveyed in January 2007 for an article entitled No Strings Attached.
Healthcare Informatics’ study determined that the current state of affairs was mixed. For example, only 5% of the organizations of the 200 healthcare executives and upper-level management they polled said their organization was completely wirelessly-enabled. Significantly, three-quarters, 72%, reported a mix of hardwired and wireless networks. That left nearly one-quarter, 23%, with no wireless network. After reviewing current and existing spending plans on implementation of wireless systems, Healthcare Informatics concluded that hospitals and health systems are implementing wireless technology in a methodical progression.
The devices most often used to access wireless networks were stationary desktop PCs and workstations, followed by laptops on carts, tablet PCs, and PDAs. 69% of respondents said that PDAs were a part of their wireless network, but that multiple brands and types of devices co-existed within the enterprise. These pocket-friendly devices are being used primarily to support patients’ treatments and for ordering and access to diagnostic tests.
The paced but steady progression of wireless technology into the healthcare scene will obviously effect how laboratories deliver laboratory test data to different sectors of the healthcare system. Some hospital laboratories are already capable of capturing lab test orders transmitted wirelessly and transmitting results back via wireless. Even in the outreach environment, physician use of wireless technology has resulted in situations where the laboratory provider has collaborated to support wireless transmission of lab test orders and laboratory test results.
Wireless connectivity, by its nature, allows people to communicate on a round-the-clock basis. Just as Web connectivity enables 24/7 access to information, wireless connectivity encourages transactions on a 24/7 basis. Progressive laboratories have already recognized that the ability to communicate with selected clients using wireless technology can be a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. Strategically, laboratories would be well-advised to identify several clients already using wireless systems and cooperate with these sites to support wireless transmission of lab test orders and laboratory test results. As the use of wireless systems becomes more common in healthcare, eventually every laboratory will need to support such wireless arrangements.
Critical Needs of Today’s Healthcare System