Healthcare News & Insights

Survey: Hospital Wi-Fi networks need an upgrade

More clinicians and other staff members are beginning to use smartphones and tablets for their jobs. However, hospitals may need to spruce up their Wi-Fi infrastructures so mobile users can get the most out of those devices. 

Recent studies have shown that smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are becoming popular in clinical work — often because people are bringing in their own devices as part of a formal or informal bring your own device (BYOD) program. In the latest report, 69% of nurses surveyed by SpyGlass Consulting Group say they’re using personal smartphones in care settings.

Nurses are mainly using those gadgets as communication tools, as many of the 100 nurses interviewed said they use a personal smartphone to “fill in critical communication gaps” that exist in the technologies provided by the hospital IT department.

Another IT-related complaint many clinicians have: bad Wi-Fi connections. A big chunk (25%) of nurses said they’re dissatisfied with the quality and reliability of the wireless network in the facilities where they work. As more mobile devices are brought into the organization and connect to those networks, health IT departments must make sure their infrastructure can meet the increased demand.

Infrastructure, policy updates needed

According to a study released earlier this year by tech vendor CDW, many healthcare organizations are implementing big IT projects without making the necessary infrastructure upgrades to keep those systems up and running.

Now and in the near future, increased use of mobile devices is likely to require upgrades, too. Most healthcare organizations (80%) report that at least some clinicians currently use mobile devices to directly facilitate patient care, according to a recent HIMSS survey. And 75% of the hospitals surveyed said they expect to expand use of mobile devices — particularly tablets — in the near future.

In addition to beefing up the technical infrastructure, health IT departments will also need to find ways to keep patient data secure on those mobile devices. And many hospitals are now scrambling to do so, as 68% of respondents in HIMSS’s survey say their organization has developed a mobile security policy, a steep increase from the 38% that had done so a year ago. Another 27% are currently developing a policy.

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