Having access to WiFi in a hospital means so much more than patients being able to update their Facebook statuses. The quality of clinical care in hospitals is intrinsically linked to how well nurses can do their jobs – and having fast and efficient WiFi in place is becoming increasingly important for that to happen.
So what can WiFi do for healthcare? Quentin Daffarn, MD of UC Wireless, explains, "The ability to instantly communicate with staff, wherever they may be over a WiFi phone integrated with a healthcare nurse call and workflow system, and automate staff locating and event handling will result in better patient care and more efficient workflow. Imagine intelligent call routing, with direct patient-to-staff and staff-to-staff communication that ensures the right call gets to the right person or multiple response teams – as in an emergency – right away. The impact in terms of increased accuracy and decreased response time, errors and wasted effort is measurable in time but immeasurable in the increase in patient safety, patient satisfaction and staff efficiency."
Then there's the impact on the bottom line – having access to real time information about patients makes for more informed decisions about their care, as well as helping measure performance against goals, improve patient satisfaction scores, and identify efficiencies and strengths (and areas for improvement) within that section of the hospital. Daffarn says: "With workflows implemented and effected through communication, reporting on these workflows is a by-product but one that allows extensive improvement in process, performance, patient care, efficiency and ultimately hospital profitability and saved lives."
Being able to share information across multiple systems can help reduce errors, improve performance, ensure rounding for multiple reasons, such as pro-active pain reassessment, wound care, patient turning, medication and general rounding. All of which eliminates wasted time and effort while maximising the benefit and power of nurses to work as an effective team. Patient requests can be routed to the right members of the team on duty, reducing the amount of time taken to respond as well as ensuring that the right person responds. Automated reminders to staff to do specific rounds and automated documenting of these activities also reduces the burden on and fatigue of the staff.
The automation of processes and documentation, such as automated charting, can free up time that's better spent on patient care. Also the ability for patient needs to be communicated directly to the right staff member minimises the number of steps and trips required when attending to the patient. So the communication and workflow events are delivered to the right person with the right information. Elimination of wasted time and improvement of patient communication empowers the staff so there is no time wasted.
Streamlining processes across all departments means that caregivers and support staff can respond quickly and effectively to patient requests. Customised integration can improve general workflow, coordinate alerts and automate documentation. The overall effectiveness of the team in interdepartmental communication means that the performance of the ward and the hospital as a whole is drastically improved. Even in theatre and emergency departments, these workflow communication capabilities can prove invaluable while improving profitability of the hospital and making procedures safer.
Monitoring productivity, workflow and performance tracking for units, staff and care helps everyone deliver the best patient care possible. Measured insights and reports means key performance indicators around staffing and patient interactions can be tracked, and customised reports generated. This means that areas for improvement can be identified so that patient care can be improved.
The upshot of all of the above is a more efficient workflow for staff, so fewer trips back and forth to patients and potentially fewer patient requests as a result of hourly rounds being carried out and documented. It also means that busy and quieter periods can be identified so that staff can be allocated accordingly, while automated reporting takes that administrative burden away from staff, freeing them up to attend to patients in their care.
The ability for patients and visitors to use free WiFi, monitored and managed by a platform that secures this separately from the critical performance required for healthcare communication, while gaining invaluable statistical insight into patient and visitor activity, plus information such as location-based services, advertising and hospital information, WiFi navigation for people visiting the hospital, all combine to make the hospital a more 'hospitable‘ place," says Daffarn. "The upshot is that patients and visitors become guests, while the hospital itself becomes smart, efficient, safer and more profitable."