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Hospitals eye wireless networks to boost satisfaction, connectivity

Hospitals seeking to enhance patient and employee satisfaction are integrating wireless networks as a perk, and Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) is no exception.

The health system’s North State Service Area of California — including Mercy Medical Center Redding, Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta and St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Red Bluff — launched free wireless Internet access.

The new access helps provide a more comfortable stay for patients, enable visitors to use Wi-Fi during visits and also help providers in their clinical duties, according to CHW.

Patients will be able to connect with friends from their hospital bed, keep family members informed and also browse the Internet. From a provider standpoint, the clinical benefits highlight the new network, wrote Dr. Robert Duvoisin, medical director of information management at Mercy Medical Center Redding in an email to SearchHealthIT.

“Installing Wi-Fi throughout the hospital gives physicians a continuous free flow of information,” Duvoisin said. “Physicians can now bring their own laptops or mobile devices to the hospital and access information that may be useful in the medical setting.”

Using personal mobile devices was not always permitted. Previously, it was mandatory for providers to use only the hospital’s internal network and a device issued by CHW.

Of course, security concerns are an important factor when implementing a wireless network. In this case, the guest and internal network are not linked. There’s no way for clinical information to flow into a patient’s Internet usage — or vice versa — because they operate on separate networks.

Wireless networks play an essential role for providers who utilize tablets, laptops, smartphones and patient monitoring devices in clinical processes. All usage of devices, however, must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

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