Two thirds of clinicians believe that having access to wi-fi would improve patient care, the first results of an ongoing nationwide survey on wi-fi in hospitals have suggested.
The NHS Hack Day community created the survey to find out how many clinicians have access to wi-fi, how many patients have access, and how this impacts patient care.
The survey is being run jointly by NHS Hackday, OpenGPSoC and HANDI. It was set up after discussions on the hack day’s Google group showed that most hospitals did not have free wi-fi access for clinicians and several complained that this was stifling app innovation.
Commenting on the Google group, Dr Marcus Baw, a locum GP who set up the survey, said that non-consultant doctors, who provide the majority of staffing in hospitals, are not given access to wi-fi.
“Oh yes there are networks, there's hardly a corridor in my hospital without a Cisco router nailed to the roof, but they seem to be for managerial types and possibly consultants. Not the likes of me,” he said.
The survey, which is the first step in a campaign towards free wi-fi for clinicians, will run until further notice.
So far, results from 538 respondents show that 149 have no wi-fi network whatsoever in their place of work. A further 125 have said that their organisation has a free wi-fi network, but they do not have access to it.
Only 127 have said that they have access to wi-fi in the clinical setting in which they work.
Another commenter on the Google group said a lack of wi-fi access was impacting on patient care.
“I would like free wi-fi in hospitals because it will enable me to connect my device to the internet efficiently and I will able to use a range of apps/websites etc that will help my clinical practice,” he said.
Malcolm Newbury, founder of Guildfoss Limited and hack day enthusiast said it was important to get wi-fi access in place, but also make sure it was secure.
“The discussion bounces around what the access should be for and goes down a lot of security and confidentiality rabbit holes. We decide to have a survey of what’s out there and what people want.”
Newbury said there had also been a lot of talk around the possibility of using Eduroam, which is used to provide internet access in universities across Europe and is currently being piloted in several local NHS organisations.
The roaming service currently does not work across the N3 Janet Gateway or the N3 internet Gateway, however, Eduroam has been proposed as a new theme for the second round it ITK projects.
‘Free wi-fi for patients’, is a similar campaign run by John Popham, an independent consultant on social media and new technologies.
His campaign has been running for nearly two years, and has borne some fruit. Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which previously offered a pay-for internet service to patients, recently announced that wi-fi would now be available free of charge.
Andy Blofield, director of Plymouth ICT Shared Services said: “For patients there is a great benefit to staying connected with friends and family and the world outside during what can be an anxious time in hospital.
“Staff have told us that free wifi would make a real difference and we felt it was important to listen to this request and deliver modern facilities in a modern hospital.”
© 2013 EHealth Media.
The public do send you a check!Pharma expert 32 weeks ago
You seem to forget, the public pay your wages. So, in fact, the do write you a check...every month.
Access for patients is important in this day of online patient support groups etc. As a clinician I regularly see patients arriving with reams of information about their condition. This is rarely discouraged by an open-minded society.
Why should they be subject to an information apartheid as soon as they enter a hospital? Come on, grasp the information revolution, and let you'll be surprised where it will take you!
Clinicians and WiFicjervis 32 weeks ago
To be honest, I am just happy that at last we have doctors and other clinicians keen on using IT. I think we should support this as far as we can. I don't know what has brought this on, Holby City or tablet computers, but it's great to have even more doctors keen on the possibilities of IT.
I agree about problems with interconnectivity and this stems from the lack of a clear operational model for future care--in which wirelessness will play a *big* part.
Power to the REAL users.Pharma expert 32 weeks ago
As usual, this is a partial reflection on one of the pervading malaises within NHS IT.
Rather than working with their ultimate customers, understanding their needs, and delivering on their needs, NHS IT Managers are far more interested in meeting the needs of their 'masters' and their self-serving requirements.
While control and security is important, I have seen too many examples where it has stifled innovation by forward thinking users - clinicians.
It is the clinicians and patients who are the ultimate users.
I hope this era of change and the disastrous experience of the government's (top down) NPfIT will awaken the managers with the power (and money) to change course and release/support the potential within the user base. We live in hope!
This is not about free wifi ?AdeByrne 32 weeks ago
Reading between the lines, this is about people/staff being able to connect their own device (iPad,phone or whatever) to the network. That is a completely different and more complex issue.
Complex...Steve Fuller 32 weeks ago
At the moment, but it needn't be.
Local councils offer customer wi-fi access on same infrastucture as internal users so why not the NHS? Certainly some sites will not be able to do anything due to stupidity of N3 model and the network bandwidth they are given, but acute Trusts should not be in this position. Who at the end of the day is paying? The public, so therefore give them access.
...AdeByrne 32 weeks ago
Steve, it all depends what you are trying to do of course.
The article was not about patient and relative access I don't think, but if we were to give that free access, we would have to consider:
- Bandwidth on the local infrastructure (WiFi) and the general internet traffic (the pipe). My hospital currently needs to do an upgrade of the core WiFi. I think we would have to consider a separate internet connection for this service because as you say, N3 is not specified for it. For all of that we are talking six figure sums plus annual five figure sums
- We could not allow this to go un-managed, and would have to put some kind of Firewall, blocking and monitoring software on there. This would consume expensive resource.
- Many of us will currently use proxy servers on the LAN, and this would be problematic in terms of some types of client. iPads are known to struggle with this type of thing. We would have to support it somehow. Once again expensive.
Staff access is a slightly different problem. I would agree there is no reason why by now all hospitals should not be giving access to WiFi to their hospital portable devices across the enterprise. Roll outs such as ePrescribing absolutely demand this. However, what people are normally talking about is their own personal device (their iPad or whatever) and this presents different problems:
- They probably want access to Local Area Network services and will need to log in for this. For that to happen, we need to be assured that they have the right level of protection (AV) etc. There will need to be some kind of remote device management such as Mobile Iron (other products are available!) to support this and protect any corporate data that finds its way onto the device
- Some of this will undoubtedly touch a Microsoft server environment and this requires licences for products that they use, even the email that they could access through the Internet via 3G or WiFi. The minimum this would cost is about £100 per device.
So it's all about priorities and these costs have to stack up against other priorities both within and outside IT.