Hospital staff get wired with new network

Victoria's Warringal Private Hospital is looking back at four months of improved patient care and staff productivity thanks to a new wireless network. But according to officials, more changes are on the way.

In January this year, the hospital successfully rolled out a new wireless point-of-activity computer network from Symbol Technologies.

The hospital had been trialling the technology since last July, Michael Sammells, commercial manager at the hospital said.

In the project, Warringal Private Hospital (WPH) has installed 10, Symbol PPT 4340 pen-based portable data entry terminals that connect via wireless to seven radio frequency-based access points situated around the hospital.

A Citrix Metaframe server has also been installed to access all fixed-location computers on the hospital's local area network.

According to officials, the system is based on a Symbol Spectrum 24 wireless network.

Sammells said the Citrix Metaframe technology enables information stored on the mainframe server to be emulated anywhere throughout the hospital, allowing hospital staff easy access to patient and hospital information all the time.

According to Leanne Laidler, chief executive officer of the hospital, the wireless network solution from Symbol Technologies was chosen for the project based on knowledge of past business relationships with the company.

Laidler said previous experience with the company in other businesses in the Mayne Nickless group -- of which WPH is one of 45 hospitals in its Health Care of Australia group -- had been a deciding factor in the selection"Since there was already a business relationship we decided to apply the same technology to health care."

According to Laidler, whilst the installation went fairly smoothly, the most difficult challenges the hospital faced involved training hospital staff.

"When staff have for years looked for pieces of paper with pathology results on them, retraining them so their instinctive behaviour is to reach for a Symbol unit takes some time and reinforcement. Changing where the work is done was also a difficult issue for staff," she said.

"For years we have admitted and discharged patients from an office. Now we can conduct this by the bedside, reducing delay and waiting time in the process."

According to Sammells, in addition to its use to admit and release patients, the new system can be used to receive pathology results and request internal repairs and maintenance on medical equipment.

Sammells said other projects using the network, such as processing pharmacy scripts, are also planned for the future.

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