Specialists clamor for remote access, wireless devices at UK hospital system

One of the unique qualities of mobile healthcare technology is that adoption is often led by users rather than than the IT department, from the grass roots rather than the C-suite. Such is the case across the pond at the Southampton University Hospitals trust in England's National Health Service.

"At Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, we've tried to ensure that we've not just put in a wireless network for its own sake, but to make sure it has benefits for clinical staff and patients," senior network and security analyst Ryan Hewitt tells E-Health Insider. The trust turned to wireless technologies not only to connect its main hospital with several satellite locations, but also to provide remote access to attending physicians--known there as senior doctors--and to specialists. The latter initiative was a product of user demand, originating with the neurology department.

"We used them because they were asking for remote access. They have an on-call rota, with the on-call consultant picking up out-of-hours calls," Hewitt explains. "If a patient had a head trauma, the consultant would have to drive to the trust. So a lot of time was spent traveling in. When time is critical, that is time you cannot afford to lose in that way."

The trust set up the consultants with remote access points at home, providing them with a secure link to images, reports and other key clinical information. "All trust laptops encrypt everything, and the connection between the laptop and the wireless infrastructure is encrypted," Hewitt notes.

Within the hospital, a wireless LAN delivers PACS images to operating suites and telephony to Vocera handheld communication devices. "We now have members of staff approaching us saying that a wireless device is available, and asking if they can make use of it. Wireless glucose monitors, for example, are saving a lot of time," says Hewitt.

For more on Southampton's wireless and mobile infrastructure:
- take a look at this E-Health Insider story