Rethinking Healthcare

Hospitals practice ambient connectivity

Hospitals practice ambient connectivity

Posting in Healthcare

Hospitals are leading the push for ambient connectivity, WiFi as a platform, and applications that live in the air.

Visicalc co-founder Bob Frankston has become fascinated with a concept he calls "ambient connectivity."

(He has a book length introduction.)

Ambient connectivity is the ability to assume connectivity anywhere and anytime, he writes -- fast connectivity. It's the future of the Internet.

And it's what hospital IT is all about now.

Ruckus Wireless is among the companies taking advantage of this. (That's their logo barking at the top.) The company today announced 15 new hospital contracts for its Smart WiFi system, ZoneFlex, which includes centralized management for wireless LANs that can cover a business or campus.

Hospitals have long been taking to WiFi like ducks to water, but the HITECH stimulus is pushing this into overdrive.

  • Everyone is on the network no matter what they can. No more phone tag.
  • Hand held devices can download health records in a flash.
  • Hospital rooms are no longer a maze of wires. You can get around in them.
  • Measurement devices are less likely to require a risky needle poke to work.
  • Measurements can be delivered to nursing stations and analyzed so alerts go out only in emergencies.

All these advantages grow with the advent of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Now numbers can be plugged into charts automatically. Now they are instantly available. Hand-offs between shifts are easier.

There are advantages here that go beyond the immediate. The health care industry is becoming an advocate for more WiFi spectrum, it has become a big market for products like ZonePlex which other industries can benefit from, and it's stimulating the development of WiFi-linked devices, some of which work in homes.

Just as important, perhaps, hospitals are becoming a living demonstration of the ambient connectivity ideal Frankston writes about. Hospitals are creating demand for unlicensed spectrum as a byproduct of improving their operations.

Talk about a win-win-win.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure