The electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart, making data instantly and securely accessible to authorized users. The benefits of EHR systems are well documented, and as a result, the market for EHR software has exploded in recent years with companies like Epic, Cerner, McKesson and Allscripts claiming a large share of this $27 billion market.
While difficult to quantify, the promise of EHR systems to improve hospital workflows, leading to more responsive care and improved patient outcomes is quite real for hospital administrators spending millions of dollars on implementations. In addition, there will come a point when EHR systems will become a necessity in order to participate in Federal or State data exchanges, allowing your hospital to take advantage of financial incentives.
But how likely are you to start receiving a return on your huge EHR investment when your Wi-Fi network is not proactively managed like all of your other strategic infrastructure assets?
When a physician’s tablet or a nurse’s workstation on wheels cannot reliably connect with speed and consistency, then your EHR system is relegated to just another computer database, not a total business management system devoted to improving operational efficiency and enhancing patient care.
Imagine the frustration a doctor feels when she can’t quickly and easily access a patient’s treatment plan, lab results or radiology images because of slow Wi-Fi. It certainly won’t help her bedside manner! Or how about a nurse who can’t reliably access his patient’s list of medications and allergies?
The EHR system’s ability to automate and streamline the hospital’s workflow is only as good as the Wi-Fi network tasked with reliably and securely carrying data from devices to doctors to databases containing critical patient information.
What you likely have in place today is a system that tells you if your hospital Wi-Fi network is working, but not how it’s working according to targets you set for a quality wireless experience for doctors, nurses and patients. When it comes to patient care across your vast medical campus, time is of the essence. Yet, when a Wi-Fi performance issue is reported—after a clinician’s productivity is lost and a patient has given up on accessing his personal health record—your likely solution is to dispatch a Wi-Fi engineer to troubleshoot – again wasting time and money.
EHR systems from Epic or McKesson are expensive and time consuming, but worth the investment when your have the ability to manage your Wi-Fi network proactively and strategically. Your Wi-Fi network is an enabler of EHR. Therefore, healthcare IT professionals must implement systems that provide proactive Wi-Fi visibility.
The Mercy Hospital case study below tells a story where time is saved, issues are fixed, productivity increased and wireless experiences for patients and doctors is enhanced.