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Being able to communicate effectively from anywhere around a healthcare facility delivers many benefits , including improved responsiveness to patient needs, increased staff productivity and higher levels of staff safety.
Key staff can carry a single, portable device that is not only a cordless telephone, but can also receive urgent text messages and can even be used to raise the alarm in the event of an emergency. A range of solutions are available that suit a variety of sites, from small nursing homes and aged care facilities through to large retirement villages and both private and public hospitals.
For nursing staff, doctors, administrators and maintenance staff to be able to carry their telephone extension with them throughout the facility has many tangible benefits.
Missed calls become a thing of the past and nurses do not need to waste time moving between their patients and their nursing stations to make or take phone calls. Being contactable while on the move improves staff efficiency and as all internal calls onsite are free, costs can be significantly reduced.
Integrated text messaging capability provides much more functionality than just wireless voice communications. By interfacing with an almost unlimited choice of paging, nursecall, alarm and LAN based messaging systems, the cordless system becomes a truly integrated wireless solution for health sites. Call points, EWIS systems, fire panels and duress devices can all be integrated to generate messages for dispatch to cordless handsets, pagers, display boards or audible alarms. Text messages can be sent to individuals or groups of cordless handsets.
Many healthcare workers are required to work in environments where their personal safety is at risk. Cordless handsets with duress functionality ensure that the alarm is raised if urgent assistance is required. With features such as alarm button, rip cord, man down and location identification, duress handsets deliver peace of mind to users and also enable facilities to meet their OH&S obligations.
Wireless technology has already transformed healthcare around the world, but its potential is much greater. Meru helps doctors, nurses and hospitals everywhere accelerate that transformation, improving patient care while minimizing the risk, time, and cost found with other wireless solutions.
Wireless technology today drives down healthcare costs, eases the burden on caregivers and enables new forms of examination and treatment. Healthcare has among the most demanding requirements for a wireless network:
From the beginning, Meru designed its network for the All-Wireless Enterprise: an organization that never needs to depend on wires for connectivity. For healthcare providers, this means mobility, efficiency, and best-in-class patient care that staff can rely on 24/7.
Meru's virtualized Wireless LAN meets the needs of Healthcare, with a converged network that delivers industry-leading performance for voice calls, patient telemetry and location tracking.
Meru's wireless LAN system behaves like a true network switch, giving every client device its own Virtual Port with customizable and predictable over-the-air quality-of-service. Its unique spectral efficiency lets it scale easily to high density and throughput, adaptable to future needs as well as today's applications. All wireless devices connect and are handed-off seamlessly and securely between access points, allowing medical staff to roam unimpeded anywhere within the hospital.
The Meru Uninterrupted Care Network is the solution
With the specific needs of hospitals in mind, Meru developed the Uninterrupted Care Network (UCN). UCN enables hospitals to create separate, dedicated channels for life-critical, mission-critical, and consumer-critical applications, utilizing unique RF Channel Layering technology. UCN empowers hospitals to:
While trying to deliver the best-quality health care to patients, providers continue to struggle with increasing budget constraints and spiralling costs. Cost is just one symptom of the overburdened health care system. There is also a shortage of skilled staff, fewer medical facilities and an ageing population. Challenges facing medical service providers include:
Healthcare organisations are increasingly recognising that communications technology plays a critical role to ensure business continuity, improve business processes and control costs. When combined with computerised systems, communications can be used to automate medical processes, help medical staff become more efficient and provide increased mobility through remote patient monitoring capabilities.
Deploying IP telephony combined with wireless extensions which may support both voice and data unchains healthcare workers from fixed workstations, enabling access to information anywhere.
An IP PBX that supports unified communications applications enables integration of communication and collaboration solutions including messaging, voice, video, chat and presence on the one platform. These standards-based applications integrate with business tools such as Microsoft Outlook, tying together applications with a simple user interface.
The multiple voice and data networks commonly used today in a healthcare environment, be it a clinic or major hospital, can be combined into a single IP network supporting data, voice, and a wide range of applications. Employing voice over IP (VoIP) via a web-enabled IP PBX delivers a number of benefits to healthcare providers including:
It is a growing trend for Hospitals, aged care facilities and clinics to install WI-FI networks to enable their staff to be more mobile ( Patient record access via smart devices, WI-FI phones, nurse call systems, medical test/drug prescription order placement, etc) as well as support new monitoring technology ( cardiac telemetry, portable patient monitors, real time location systems for assets, etc). These WI-FI networks also allow Hospitals to offer Internet access to patients and visitors. Offering access to patients can improve their welfare as well as providing an additional revenue stream for the Hospital. The access must also be secure to protect the existing internal network from external attacks while keeping the IT infrastructure HIPAA compliant.
The demands on healthcare IT staff continue to grow, as security regulations relating to patient privacy become more stringent, and as more users – visitors, patients, visiting clinicians – are accessing the network.
The challenges in managing network access are being amplified by the new generation of personal smart devices including iPhones, tablets and other devices that patients, care givers and general staff want to use around the healthcare facility. The BYOD phenomenon is seeing a flood of diverse Wi-Fi® devices entering networks claiming their share of WLAN resources. Networks must be prepared to deliver secure, scalable wireless network access to a diversity of devices and users
Wireless networks should be capable of enabling one-click self provisioning of client devices for secure 802.1x connectivity.
BYOD Guest Access Management Requirements:
Healthcare establishments need to strictly protect sensitive patient data, research, and other highly confidential material. Tightly controlling access to the network becomes essential to ensuring that patient health information, research data and confidential information remains accessible only to those authorised to view it. By establishing role-based access, healthcare organisations can authorize specific individuals to have some, all or no access to resources on the network. By adding user authentication, unauthorised users attempting to gain access to the network are blocked, further avoiding potential breaches to patient confidentiality.
With the proliferation of medical devices on the network, securing and managing these devices presents unique challenges to healthcare IT organisations. A wide range of patient monitoring systems, medical imaging devices, diagnostics equipment and other devices require uninterrupted network connectivity. Many of these devices are “mobile” (frequently moved throughout the facility) and may be connected to the network either via wireless LANs or wired Ethernet. An effective solution for managing medical devices ensures that only authorised devices are connecting, and contains asset management capabilities for locating and tracking devices throughout the facility.
An increasingly diverse and mobile population of users and wireless devices increases the complexity in securing both wired and wireless environments. The growing number and types of devices used by doctors, nurses, clinicians, specialists, and other medical professionals adds to the concerns of securing the network, as does the growing number of visitors and guests seeking access. Add to that the reliance on anywhere/anytime connectivity to systems and to the devices used for patient care (patient monitoring, medical imaging, diagnostics equipment, etc.), and a security solution for both wired and wireless, and for users and guests is essential.
Wireless also introduces new risks and vulnerabilities to a healthcare facility’s network. As wireless technology proliferates, "wired" network security and strong WLAN encryption are insufficient protection from emerging wireless threats. Unauthorised or “rogue” access points and Wi-Fi enabled laptops that connect to neighbouring networks can put the healthcare organization at risk for HIPAA violations. Wireless intrusion prevention systems must the physical and technical safeguards defined for protecting Electronic Protected Health Information (EPHI), preventing unauthorised wireless access to online medical records as well as securing the network from wireless security breaches.
Without the right tools to understand what is happening in the air, confidential patient information may be exposed. Misconfigured access points, a rogue (unauthorised) access point, an employee connecting to a neighbour's network or a hacker sitting in your parking lot - all these can open a back door into a network and compromise data. In order to protect sensitive data, an effective wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) needs to protect networks by monitoring and defending airspace, 24/7 without adding administrative burdens.