Wireless Hospital: Orlando Regional Healthcare

By Jeff Goldman

March 13, 2008

This Florida heath care organization uses the newest in wireless technology throughout its nine hospitals in a number of different ways--including a current trial of Motion C5 tablet PCs.

This Florida heath care organization uses the newest in wireless technology throughout its nine hospitals in a number of different ways--including a current trial of Motion C5 tablet PCs.


Florida’s Orlando Regional Healthcare, a 1,780-bed network of healthcare facilities, is currently running a trial deployment of Motion Computing’s Motion C5  tablet PCs. Recently certified as a Cisco Compatible Client Device, the C5 not only allows medical professionals to access patient records at the point of care, but also uses RFID and bar code reading functionality to help nurses minimize medical errors—the device can be used to confirm a match between the bar code on a container of medication and the RFID tag in a patient’s wristband to ensure that the right medication is being administered.

The C5 is one of four new Cisco-compatible solutions that Cisco recently announced at the HIMSS08 conference in Orlando, Florida. The others, according to Isabelle Guis, Cisco’s senior manager for mobility solutions, are Socket Mobile’s SoMo 650 handheld, which offers similar functionality to the Motion C5, but in a PDA form factor; Intermec’s CV30 fixed-mount laptop for use on a hospital crash cart—and the combined solution of InnerWireless’ Pango Vision tracking product integrated with Cisco’s 7921G wireless IP phone.

Alex Veletsos, Orlando Regional’s chief technology officer, says the trial deployment of the Motion C5 is part of a larger transition the organization is currently making towards Cisco solutions in general. While Orlando Regional has worked with a wide variety of manufacturers in the past, Veletsos says it just makes sense to standardize on Cisco.

“Standardization yields lower support costs and ease of training, because now we don’t have to keep network engineers trained on several technologies,” he says. “So the overall initiative is one of standardization—and simplification.”

Both wireless technology and Cisco itself are nothing new for Orlando Regional.

“We depend on Cisco for all of our nine hospitals’ wireless LANs,” Veletsos says. The equipment accessing those WLANs, he notes, includes everything from physicians’ laptops to Computers on Wheels (COWs), as well as handhelds, dual-mode phones, and any other device that a doctor or patient might use while in the hospital.

The network, Veletsos says, allows a doctor to view medical records from his or her own practice while at the patient’s bedside.

“In some cases, we even have had a doctor have two devices: one of their own, looking at their practice’s electronic medical records, and on the other laptop that we provided to the doctor, being able to see hospital-based lab results and x-ray images—and make an immediate, instantaneous decision that affects patient care,” he says.

Wireless access is also being used to enable what’s known as bedside registration. “Patients don’t have to wait in line at a desk to register when they arrive at the emergency department,” Veletsos says. “People with laptops are able to walk up to the waiting area in the emergency room and register the patients there, providing immediate, personalized service on a couch or a sofa instead of making people wait in line.”

And the network isn’t just for voice—Orlando Regional’s doctors and nurses, Veletsos says, also use Vocera handsfree voice badges for communications.

To support that kind of pervasive deployment, Veletsos says Cisco’s use of LWAPP (Lightweight Access Point Protocol) is key to both ensuring security and avoiding interference. “Biomedical equipment can broadcast all kinds of technology-based interference, and LWAPP allows the network to dynamically adapt and change its coverage map without having a network engineer expend a lot of personal labor trying to figure it out,” he says.

Similarly, Veletsos says the organization takes security very seriously. “From WPA2 to LWAPP to several utilities, firewalls and IPS products that we use from Cisco and beyond, we’re doing everything we can,” he says. “So just because we offer public access to the Internet, that doesn’t mean that we do not protect that network as well—we put in place serious layers of protection, even on our public LAN.”

The public LAN, Veletsos says, has proved to be of great benefit to patients and visitors. “Especially in our hospitals that are some of the biggest in baby deliveries, where both mom and dad are there with us for three or four days, people end up not really having to go to work, because they can work from within the hospital on their laptops,” he says.

Ultimately, Veletsos says Orlando Regional’s wireless deployment is all about enabling mobility for everyone in the hospital—including guests, patients, doctors, and nurses. “Wireless is no longer just nice to have: it’s a requirement,” he says. “And without having a good wireless network that is stable and that offers the ability to work anywhere within our facilities, any time of the day, we couldn’t succeed in the overall strategy of doing bedside documentation and providing better care.”

California-based writer Jeff Goldman is a frequent contributor to Wi-FiPlanet.

Originally published on .

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