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ARTICLE

Healthcare Wireless Connectivity Series

Wireless Connectivity for Healthcare Facilities Management and Operations


Welcome to the third in a series of articles discussing wireless technology in the healthcare industry. With healthcare providers striving for high customer satisfaction ratings, we focused our first article on the benefits wireless connectivity provides patients and visitors and how it is helping to improve patient outcomes and the quality of care they receive. In the second article, we highlighted the importance of wireless connectivity to those who work in the healthcare field.

In this article, we highlight on the importance of wireless connectivity for the overall facilities management and operations in a healthcare facility.

The Importance of Connectivity in Hospitals

A robust wireless network is crucial to modern healthcare institutions. Hospital staff, visitors and patients heavily rely on wireless connections. Issues with limited coverage, unstable connections, and slow speeds can negatively impact the quality of care that a facility is able to provide.

Healthcare facilities also rely on the efficiency and high-quality coverage of their wireless network to support day-to-day operations. Here are several management and operational tasks that can be improved by a strong wireless network:

Asset Tracking

The range and wide array of assets in a hospital or medical facility are vast and can represent a significant monetary investment. Wireless technology enables real-time asset tracking of medical devices and is a valuable tool to help healthcare facilities provide efficient care to patients, decrease the cost of lost and stolen equipment, and save money on capital expenses. Items that can be tracked include life-support machines, medical devices, wheelchairs, patient beds, and walkers.

Asset Maximization and Depreciation

Hospitals manage a large volume of high-value assets. Having the ability to real-time monitor and track the lifecycle of this type of equipment can help administration streamline budgeting, track depreciation to stay compliant with regulatory requirements, and make informed decisions on what investments will help to improve patient care or lower operational costs.

Streamlining Workflow

Real-time asset tracking enables hospital staff to easily locate and retrieve necessary equipment and devices. This minimizes time spent searching for lost or misplaced items and allows staff to focus on patient care and improving overall efficiency and productivity.

Preventative Maintenance

Routine preventative maintenance plays an important part in successful healthcare facilities management. Wireless technology enables real-time tracking that can help maximize the longevity of critical assets and keep them operating at optimal performance while avoiding downtime or costly repairs down the road.

Inventory Management

Wireless technology provides real-time tracking and visibility into inventory levels, helping hospitals maintain adequate medical devices and supplies, controls costs, and avoid waste.

Pharmacies also benefit from strong wireless networks. In addition to managing and monitoring costs and inventory levels, wireless connectivity can help pharmacies adhere to regulatory and compliance requirements. Implementing a wireless-enabled pharmacy asset program provides numerous advantages, including:

  • Proper drug storage, security, and use instructions
  • Inventory value, levels, usage, and shrinkage reduction
  • Medical distribution control including location, expiration dates, and quantity
  • Advanced reporting and data capabilities
  • Safety and compliance

Energy Management

Hospitals operate 24/7/365 and tend to use a high amount of energy. With salaries and utilities being the two largest categories in the budget of any hospital, energy efficiency is imperative to controlling costs. Having a reliable wireless network can help healthcare organizations monitor and adjust energy usage in a variety of ways, including:

  • Adjusting wireless thermostats for seasonal changes and occupancy
  • Tracking energy use with smart sensors, thermostats, and meters
  • Monitoring equipment to ensure optimal performance
  • Retrofitting inefficient lighting with smart lighting options
  • Identifying areas of wasted energy and recommend optimizations
  • Identifying where capital investments need to be made to improve energy performance

Tracking and Managing Medical Waste

A streamlined medical waste management and monitoring system is critical for healthcare facilities to avoid health risks, contamination, and regulatory fines. With real-time medical waste data and operational insights, hospitals can track medical waste disposal, ensure regulatory compliance, and reduce expenses.

Operational Monitoring

There are many smart technologies can help health facilities maximize their efficiency, streamline processes, and save money through monitoring. Examples include:

Temperature Monitoring

Real-time temperature monitoring in medical storage refrigerators and freezers avoids waste, increases medicine safety and improves energy efficiency.

Smart Sensors

Smart sensor technology can monitor the cleanliness and hygiene in a hospital to track cleaning frequency, identify high usage and specific times of usage. This data can be used to establish and maintain an effective cleaning schedule.

Water Monitoring

Smart technology can be used in real-time to monitor water systems and ensure compliance to standards to control the spread of disease.

Occupancy Monitoring

Occupancy monitoring uses real-time data to determine patterns in usage, evaluate how many people are on each floor or area, and find underutilized floors or empty beds that are available.

Air Quality Monitoring

Indoor air quality technology provides real-time environmental condition monitoring and analytics to identify temperature, humidity levels, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and elevated levels of particulate matter. Detecting safety risks or inefficiencies in the HVAC systems means that corrections can be made quickly to control the spread of infection and protect respiratory health.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting with sensor technology can help control and lower lighting costs. Wireless solutions enable real-time response to changes in demands throughout a facility. 

Safety and Security

A robust wireless network has a profound impact on the safety and security in and around a hospital. Having seamless connectivity allows for real-time security monitoring to ensure that patients, staff and visitors feel safe and protected. This can include a variety of alarms, visitor tracking, sensors, video devices, access controls, notifications systems, and more.

Electronic medical records can be securely accessed and updated, thus eliminating the need for time-consuming paperwork. Using wireless technology is of utmost importance in ensuring that patient data remains secure and protected from unauthorized access and that hospitals meet compliance standards and policy criteria.

Robotics in Healthcare

In operations and facilities management, robotic devices help address labor costs and improve operational efficiencies. There are a variety of robotic devices in use in this industry that are helping to remove the daily burden on healthcare workers. Opportunities for these devices will continue to grow with future IoT advances. Common robotic technologies used in healthcare facilities include:

  • Medication and medical supply distribution
  • Cleaning, disinfection, and decontamination of ER and OR rooms, patient rooms, and common areas
  • Sterilizing surgical instruments
  • Food service delivery
  • Heavy lifting such as moving beds or patients
  • Collecting, preparing, transporting, analyzing, and storage of lab samples
  • Transportation of medical supplies, linens, and trash
  • Social robots to interact with visitors and patients to offer directions

Patient Billing

While the first goal of a hospital is to provide quality care to their patients, they are ultimately in business to make a profit. Having a robust patient billing and payment system is a vital component to the overall efficiency and success of any healthcare facility. Wireless technology is creating efficiencies for staff and streamlining operations, while at the same time enhancing the patient experience by offering quick, safe, and secure payment options.

Electronic Health Records

Access to real-time patient records not only makes this process more accurate and efficient, it also helps healthcare facilities save significant time and reduce costs. Wireless technology allows healthcare workers to quickly access critical information and accurately address patient needs.

Emergency Medical Treatment

Wireless technology can reduce patient wait times by providing real-time data regarding availability of emergency and observation rooms. Real-time video and data links between ER departments and ambulances makes it possible for staff to make remote patient assessments and determine appropriate resources prior to a patient’s arrival.

Healthcare Data Analytics

The data and reporting capabilities found in a hospital setting can have the potential to help deliver better patient outcomes and greatly reduce costs. Some of the benefits of having real-time information include:

  • Utilizing patient data to improve health outcomes
  • Gaining operational insights
  • Improve staffing, recruiting, onboarding, and training
  • Identify the efficiency of clinical processes and other operations
  • Insights on the allocation of resources

Is your healthcare facility’s wireless network as healthy as it can be?

Wireless technology is shaping the way that healthcare is delivered. With future advances in IoT healthcare, it has immense potential to continue to transform the industry. Hospitals and healthcare facilities need to deliver outstanding patient care, while also controlling spiraling costs. Having a robust wireless network is helping them meet these goals. 

The uses we mention in this article, as well as wireless devices of the future, rely on a secure, reliable and consistent wireless connection. Having a high-quality wireless connection throughout every corner of a hospital facility or complex is an integral part of modern healthcare.

Why Wesco?

Wesco’s experienced team can help your healthcare facility stay connected and running smoothly. We provide robust and innovative wireless solutions to ensure your network can support critical systems and meet employee, patient, and facility management expectations. From DAS to small cell, private LTE/CBRS networks, Wi-Fi, and public safety systems, Wesco offers a comprehensive portfolio of end-to-end wireless technologies that meet the challenges of today and the demands of the future.

 

Donna Yates Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Yates
Donna Yates is a freelance writer with over 25 years of experience generating marketing strategies, programs, and collateral specifically focused on global service providers and the utility, broadband, and wireless markets.



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