Healthcare Harnesses Airspace For Better Patient Care

Wireless technology is vastly improving communications within hospitals and NHS trusts and providing greater levels of patient care, but healthcare organisations must take control of their airspace in order to control access to confidential patient information, according to Red-M, a leading provider of services and products for managing wireless infrastructure.

Applying Red-M’s Total Airspace Management (TAM) approach will provide healthcare organisations with a robust and secure foundation upon which wireless installations can be rolled out and by carefully managing their airspace organisations will be able to detect when and where wireless devices are in use, allowing them to stop unauthorised attempts to attach to the network and controlling access to confidential patient data.

United Bristol Healthcare Trust (UBHT) is one healthcare organisation that has recognised the potential of wireless technology when it is properly managed. With 7,000 staff across nine different hospitals, UBHT is one of the largest acute trusts in the country as well as a major teaching and research centre for the South West. In order to provide the best service for its 4,000 IT users and 110,000 inpatient and day care admissions, the trust began installing a series of small closely confined wireless systems in order to provide specific services for clinicians on the wards and to overcome the challenge of providing connectivity between the different buildings.

The wireless systems have proven successful and there are plans for more deployments in the future, but UBHT maintains that the success of the programme depends on careful management of the airspace. Dave Oatway, the trust’s Computer Services Manager said, “At Bristol we have thousands of people walking around our buildings every single day. Although the vast majority are law-abiding, we have to protect against the threats we don’t even know are out there.”

Andrew Barker, Chief Marketing Officer of Red-M Group, said “All public environments should treat wireless technology as the fourth utility along with water, electricity and gas. In the healthcare sector wireless is proving invaluable for managing patient data, monitoring patients and communicating between trusts, but with sensitive patient information involved, it is vital that airspace is carefully managed.”

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