Neal Humphrey, head of healthcare sector UK, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise looks at redefining healthcare delivery
Healthcare providers like the NHS are undergoing a major transformation, with continuity of care now expected at every stage of the patient journey. Optimising the care pathway has therefore never been more important.
To handle this shift, hospitals are engaging in a radical digital transformation and moving into the world of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) - a world where connectivity is critical to their success.
Network connectivity enables healthcare providers to break technical and operational silos and deliver better outcomes, in a safe, caring, convenient, cost-effective and accessible manner.
A smart future for healthcare
Advancements in medical technologies are driving the need to upgrade networks for higher performance, better security and flexible device management. This includes connected medical devices which send MRI scans and images in real time to mobile devices and ultra HD imaging which helps in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
So, the future is bright, but it brings challenges. It is no longer enough to provide secure, robust, high-performance mission critical networks. Automation and Unified Access are key to its success.
The hospital data network has never been more essential for delivering the various information, applications and IoT connectivity that enable faster, safer diagnosis required for outstanding patient care and improved outcomes. These multiple services, each require a prioritisation and a defined service level. Automated management, unified access and control is therefore essential to allow network managers to concentrate on important tasks rather than being distracted by day-to-day administration.
Patients want a good healing experience from welcome to admission, during the hospital stay and follow-up. Digital engagement such as patient/guest Wi-Fi access and location-based services such as wayfinding within large hospital complexes help to improve the experience.
Doctors and other clinical staff want to collaborate with peers, colleagues and patients securely with ubiquitous access to comprehensive patient information, on premise as well as beyond the facility.
Nurses want to provide secure care for patients while better engaging with doctors, clinical staff and patients’ families before, during and after hospitalisation.
From an operational perspective, tackling public health priorities and driving efficiency through process optimisation and enhanced security are highly important. This relies on dependable communications and network infrastructure. From imaging systems to patient monitors, the security of IoT devices when thousands of objects are on the network is imperative, as is the ability to protect people, assets, data and buildings.
How Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise supports healthcare in the digital age
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s digital age networking for healthcare provides a new level of performance, security, automation, visibility and control, enabling hospitals to optimise workflows and drive efficiencies, while delivering the services that clinicians, administrative staff, patients and visitors expect.
Rainbow by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise enables healthcare providers to simplify and secure discussions, optimise the flow of information in the hospital environment, and better serve patients. Using Rainbow, health professionals can keep track of presence status so that they can identify which colleagues are available for an impromptu consultation; they can share documents pertinent to patient care; and they can quickly message each other with the touch of a button. The Rainbow API also means that providers can embed communication and collaboration tools into the healthcare systems they are already using. Dedicated apps and wearables even make it possible to transmit information to patients so that they can manage their own care and make better use of health resources.
Real-time notifications for better efficiency
Notification solutions such as IQ Messenger improve the operational workflow within the hospital by notifying the right staff of critical alarms, in a secure and relevant manner, even on the move. This platform significantly reduces alarm fatigue from medical equipment alarms, nurse calls and building management systems, in turn improving patient and staff safety. IQ Messenger also helps reduce the constant noise in hospitals that is well known to disrupt patients’ sleep.
Increased safety with prioritised alerts
Sending an instant message to a colleague or a team might be critical in some urgent situations. The Rainbow Alert smartphone app can do more than just replace pagers in the healthcare sector. Using distinctive notification and ring tone, as well as persistent audio alert, Rainbow Alert requires the recipient to acknowledge receipt of the message for increased efficiency and safety. Aiming to improve digital engagement between clinical and non-clinical staff and speeding up communication and collaboration, Rainbow Alert enables faster decision making.
Asset tracking helps save clinicians’ time
Research shows that a nurse spends over one hour looking for people or medical assets during a shift. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s OmniAccess Stellar Asset Tracking solution enables healthcare providers to track medical equipment and people in real-time for security, compliance and time savings.
The healthcare industry is evolving towards a more preventative, predictive, participatory, and personalised environment. Digital transformation that delivers improved communications will be essential to address the increasing demand for mobility and connectivity.
Case study: Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) is one of the larger mental health trusts in the UK, providing mental health, learning disability and substance misuse services. KMPT covers an area of 1,450 sq miles and serves 1.7 million people across Kent and Medway.
KMPT was looking to replace its existing wireless solution with a robust network capable of meeting future infrastructure demands across 28 sites and 57 buildings.
The new solution would need to enable connectivity for staff, patients and partners, and allow KMPT to deliver new services and facilities increasingly reliant on connected infrastructure. A key driver was the need to support up to four devices per person and the ability to prioritise multi-media traffic.
The Trust’s large, mobile workforce needed reliable access to mission-critical applications, including electronic records, images, digital dictations and video conferencing services.
It was important that KMPT’s investment would deliver benefits for both patients and staff, while future proofing the service by enabling new and existing technologies to assist with real-time care and service delivery.
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s business partner Khipu implemented a full Wi-Fi network and the associated management software suite to offer full visibility and control over the wireless network.
The solution met KMPT’s diverse requirements and offered greater flexibility around how service and traffic could be deployed, managed, monitored and maintained.
The management software suite delivers simplified management, with active monitoring and alarming, as well as centralised administration of the network.
The Wi-Fi network offers reliable connectivity across each of the Trust’s 28 sites and 57 buildings and is compatible with existing IT infrastructure.
Users can connect up to four devices to the network that supports multimedia traffic, including video and voice, to better enable communications and mobility.
Michele Curtis, head of ICT, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, commented, “I am delighted with our ALE Wi-Fi solution underpinning new, innovative ways of working. It is fundamental for achieving a safe and dynamic system of care for all our service users, and providing secure connectivity for outpatient clinics, inpatient units and community-based teams. It also provides internet access to the public when they visit many of our sites.”