A coalition of hospital and health system executives and professionals from across the U.S. have developed an open framework reference architecture to accelerate adoption of wireless technology in health care networks. The West Wireless Health Institute (San Diego, CA) formed the West Wireless Health Council to advance the project, intended to enable the full potential of wireless networking technology to be realized in health care delivery settings, and ultimately to provide lower health care costs.
As stated on the Council's website:
Currently, there is no standard approach to installing wireless infrastructure in health care settings, resulting in limited coverage and bandwidth. This makes it almost impossible for a doctor's iPad, a patient's smartphone and a wireless infusion pump to work simultaneously and at a level of assurance required in a medical setting. The restricted environment effectively slows the growth of low-cost solutions and drives up costs for hospitals.
As its first milestone, the Council formally announced its "creation of a medical grade wireless open framework that effectively turns wireless into a common utility." Using best practices from across industry, the Council has developed a reference architecture that it says enables a wireless infrastructure to be incorporated into any hospital or health care system, much like electricity, plumbing, heating or air conditioning.
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To date, the architecture has been successfully deployed in six of the hospitals and health care systems represented on the Council. These include Children's Hospital Los Angeles, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA and HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, in Leominster, MA. Other institutions, such as Scripps Health in San Diego, are in the process of deploying the new reference architecture, which is available to hospitals and health care systems at no cost.
In addition to the reference architecture for wireless medical solutions, the Council will focus on four additional aspects of wireless health including: regulatory improvement and leadership, medical device interoperability and data analytics, medical device assurance, and hospital infrastructure implementation.
"From the perspective of health care delivery, we were able to design an innovative solution based on the needs of health care, rather than what's currently available in the marketplace," said Marty Miller, CIO of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and a member of the West Wireless Health Council Executive Committee.
The Council is made up of leaders in health care information technology, biomedical, infrastructure, and clinical experts representing of hospitals across the U.S. that have goals to lower the cost of health care. According to a press release, members of the group's executive committee include:
-- Harold Dupper, Vice President/Finance, Platte Valley Medical Center, Brighton, CO.
-- Marty Miller, Chief Information Officer, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, CA.
-- Bruce Rainey, Corporate Vice President, Facilities Design and Construction, Scripps Health, San Diego, CA.
-- Chris Riha, Clinical Systems Engineering Technology Services Group, Carillion Health System, Roanoke, VA.
-- Greg Walton, Chief Information Officer, El Camino Hospital, Mountain View, CA.
Also represented on the Council are the following healthcare professionals:
-- Margaret Campbell, R.N., Associate Chief Information Officer, HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, Leominster, MA.
-- Dave Duncan, Corporate Vice President, Facilities and Support Services, HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, Leominster, MA.
-- Steve Garske, Chief Information Officer, Kootenai Medical Center, Coeur d' Alene, ID.
-- John D. Hixson, M.D., Associate Deputy for Clinical Informatics, San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA.
-- Greg Johnson, Chief Technology Officer, Director of IT Technology and Engineering Services, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA.
-- Ed Lowell, Director of Infrastructure, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, Palo Alto, CA.
-- Richard Mohnk, Associate Chief Information Officer, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, MA.
-- Rick Pollack, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond, VA.
-- Michael L. Sorensen, Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences, Chicago, IL.
-- Bill Spooner, Senior Vice President/CIO, Sharp HealthCare, San Diego, CA.
-- Patric R. Thomas, Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Scripps Health Information Services, San Diego, CA.
-- Mark S. Wiesenberg, Chief Technology Officer, Scripps Health, San Diego, CA.
-- Marcia Wylie, Director Biomedical Engineering, Scripps Health, San Diego, CA.
-- Eric Yablonka, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences, Chicago, IL.
-- Michael Zachary, Director of Enterprise Architecture, Cook Children's Health Care System, Fort Worth, TX.
"We want to see health care benefit from the same economies of scale that have really reduced costs in the consumer electronics space -- hospitals are a key driver to make that a reality," comments Don Casey, CEO, West Wireless Health Institute. "Hospitals and health care systems have been dependent on expensive solutions that in many cases are proprietary and lead to unneeded costs, and the Council's reference architecture reduces that dependency."