Comments on: Handhelds and Healthcare Innovation

Healthcare organizations are turning to Handheld computers to streamline business processes and improve overall patient care. Using Palm handheld computers, healthcare providers can access and manage critical information at the point of care, where decision support is so critical.
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Real power is in wireless use ...

Token User @ 2/10/2003 2:03:11 PM #
... but have devices based around technologies like 802.11b and Bluetooth (and to a lesser extent 1xRTT/GPRS) been OK'd for use in hospital environments?

Just a question. I don't know the answer.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~

RE: Real power is in wireless use ...
HandESoftware LLC @ 2/10/2003 3:51:56 PM #
Some one please correct me if I am wrong but...

I belive most MODERN, (i.e. purchased within the past 3-5 years) hospital equipment is shielded farily well from cellphones, PDA's and such...

I guess the problem is that most equipment is OLDER and not shielded and/or the hospital admin doesn't want to take a chance of a patient "coding" as you check your email!!

Wireless in Hospitals
devildoc @ 2/10/2003 9:56:56 PM #
If mobiles, 802.11b and bluetooth adversely affected critical medical equipment, there'd be people dying left and right from catastrophic equipment failures. Not that I have ever broken a hospital rule or ignored an overzealous charge nurse with an inferiority complex, BUT mobiles with wireless headsets and wireless networks ARE being used in closets, offices, and stairwells away from prying eyes in hospitals. While my personal observations and the lack of peer reviewed literature do not prove my assertation that the hospital administrators are merely obeying the orders of their lawyers, I challenge anyone to prove [in a peer reviewed journal] that a mobile has adversely interefered with a respirator.

RE: Real power is in wireless use ...
sessamoid @ 2/10/2003 11:09:28 PM #
802.11b frequencies have no significant adverse effects on hospital equipment that I can tell. We've had such a wireless network in our hospital for some time now, and if it significantly interfered with pumps, ventilators, etc. everybody would have been dead a long time ago. I can even (briefly) see the network with my iBook and Airport card, but it uses some funky encryption where it just "disappears" after a minute or so. Obviously not using WEP.

RE: Real power is in wireless use ...
mikestokes @ 2/11/2003 12:29:36 AM #
I can't agree more. I've worked in a hospital (the operating room specifically) for quite some time now and I've never seen a problem with cell phones or other wireless devices being used in close proximity to monitoring or other electronic healthcare equipment. The doctors use their cell phones in the OR all the time without any problem whatsoever. The whole anal retentiveness about the whole issue is quite unwarranted in my opinion. I would say that it's just a holdover from days gone by and nothing more. It's not an issue.

RE: Real power is in wireless use ...
bigRoN @ 2/11/2003 2:16:26 AM #
I am a nurse and worked for several years as a registry and travel nurse. Therefore, I have worked at quite a few hospitals. I have come to the conclusion that wireless devices do not adversly effect medical equipment... although I can't say the other way around is true (MRI). I've seen MANY hospitals using consumer wireless devices themselves. I've seen 802.11b used on laptops for gathering information from patients by registration clerks. I've seen cordless phones (47Mhz, 800Mhz and 2.4Ghz) that could be purchased anywhere being used. In the hospital I'm an employee at, we have those infamous signs with a picture of a radio and cell phone with a red circle and stripe through it, yet security and engineering use standard radios that are of pretty crappy quality. Being an ER nurse, I deal with people who were not expecting to be where they are and need to make arrangements and other plans with work or family members. Unless someone is irritating me, I will NOT tell them that they can't use their cell phone in the hospital. I have seen many co-workers (mostly day-shifters) yell at people in an unfriendly manner, telling them they can't use their cell phone in the hospital and point out those signs. I find that rude and I won't do it. I am considered the technology guru in the hospital I'm at, staff (nurses, doctors and anyone else) come to me for technology advice, yet when I try to tell them that wireless devices are of no real harm, they argue with me. I explain that the frequency band of medical wireless devices are different from consumer bands, and that I have NEVER seen any interference. I've given demonstrations to prove my point, yet they still argue. They only thing I've EVER seen that was unusual was when I put a radio right up next to a CRT monitor and the picture became distorted. Once degaussed, the monitor was normal again. I showed that using a magnet, which we keep around for pausing some pacemakers, did much worse damage.

RE: Real power is in wireless use ...
Sleuth255 @ 2/11/2003 10:55:40 AM #
Somewhat off topic but....

I suspect the same thing is going on in Airplanes too. I'm constantly yelled at to turn my TT off during takeoff and landing. They don't realize that my PDA is never off. Likewise, I'm relatively sure that cellphones don't affect airplanes either.

Handhelds in Healthcare

r0hh @ 2/11/2003 3:05:22 AM #
I was part of an R&D team in a local pittsburgh shop developing Medical Informatics software for the iPaq. I was always a big fan of Palm devices but they were horribly underpowered at the time. Hopefully new devices like the Tungsten series can wipe the board with pocketPC devices.


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