Just as the Department of Veterans Affairs was revealing plans to install Wi-Fi for patients and visitors in hundreds of facilities, along comes a new report from ABI Research to confirm that Wi-Fi use is soaring in healthcare.
In just the past 12 months, Wi-Fi implementation in healthcare environments has grown by 60 percent, to support such functions as real-time location systems, patient monitoring, telemedicine and connectivity of mobile devices, the London-based research firm reports. The company expects "high double-digit growth" to continue for the foreseeable future.
ABI also notes strong adoption of cellular machine-to-machine connectivity and wearable wireless sensors, following standards such as Bluetooth, Low-Energy Bluetooth and ZigBee.
"The growing number of wireless technologies and wireless applications being developed, piloted and deployed within healthcare further underline the level of interest in using wireless to improve the flexibility and efficiency of healthcare services around the world," ABI Research principal analyst Jonathan Collins says in a press release.
"The healthcare industry has come to rely on Wi-Fi because it's versatile, proven technology that meets healthcare's unique needs--data-intensive work in highly mobile environments," Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director for the Wi-Fi Alliance, explains in an interview with eWeek. "It has advanced security mechanisms, high-performance technology, a robust certification ecosystem and an enormous range of certified devices."
However, some of the lower-power technologies may challenge Wi-Fi's supremacy in healthcare, particularly in the realms of personal monitoring, disease management, assisted living and telepresence. "Any offering in this market will have to be extremely simple to install, and operate, and existing Wi-Fi connections can't be relied upon to always be present," Collins tells eWeek.