Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 16, 2012

West Wireless Health Council Creating Open Architecture Framework for Hospitals to Work Seamlessly Together

A new coalition of hospital and health system leaders nationwide are working together to find a way for hospitals to “build wireless coverage into their hospitals” to ensure that everything from an iPhone to a doctor’s iPad to a wireless infusion pump will work simultaneously by creating an open framework, with the ultimate goal of lowering healthcare costs, according to a press release.

An open framework means that systems and services can be integrated into or added onto other systems because the source code is available to all. The architecture has been successfully deployed in six hospitals and health care systems across the country, and is in the process of being deployed at others. 

The press release reports that this kind of solution is necessary because there is currently no universal way to install wireless infrastructure in health care settings, making it “almost impossible for a doctor’s iPad, a patient’s smartphone and a wireless infusion pump to work simultaneously, restricting the IT environment in such a way that it “slows the growth of low-cost solutions and drives up costs for hospitals,” the press release states.

According to the press release, the West Wireless Health Institute has set up the West Wireless Health Council to fix this.  The council said in the press release that this creation of a medical grade wireless open framework “effectively turns wireless into a common utility.”

The Wireless Health Institute notes on its Web site that the “United States spends almost $2.5 trillion annually on health care, and chronic disease accounts for 75 percent,” and that its mission is to help bring down those costs.

The Council has developed “a reference architecture that enables a wireless infrastructure to be incorporated into any hospital or health care system, much like electricity, plumbing, heating or air conditioning,” according to the press release.

“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, in the press release, who is also a member of the West Wireless Health Council Executive Committee.

“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,” said Don Casey, CEO, West Wireless Health Institute, in the press release. “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.”

The council will also focus on regulatory improvement and leadership, medical device interoperability and data analytics, medical device assurance, and hospital infrastructure implementation.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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