The combination of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies enables Ascom to deliver innovative applications for healthcare

Ascom and KPN, the leading telecommunications and ICT service provider in the Netherlands, have joined forces to create an offering for mission-critical communications in healthcare using cellular network technology. On the launch of this service, Roel Ottink, Ascom Wireless Solutions and Monique Philippens, KPN, explain the need for and benefits of mission-critical communication solutions.

Why has Ascom chosen to launch cellular network services for the healthcare market now?

Roel Ottink, Director Product Management and Marketing, Ascom Wireless SolutionsRO. There are three arguments that make it suitable to launch cellular services now. The first is that the healthcare sector is increasingly mobile: healthcare professionals are working in multiple locations, both in an institution and off site, for example in people’s homes. Second, communications are no longer simple voice and messaging, but include large amounts of data, for example, mobile devices can show waveforms from a heart monitor. The third trend is an increased use of electronic patient records, which require a lot of integration to combine information across different applications, devices and networks.

What are the benefits of a mission-critical network for healthcare providers?

Monique Philippens, Managing Director, Healthcare Vertical, KPNMP. Our aim is to make the processes in healthcare organisations more efficient, to enable healthcare professionals work anywhere. This requires reliable exchange of information between healthcare professionals and between professionals and consumers in a secure environment and with constant availability. As an example, we can set up a dedicated mobile network within hospitals just for staff so that mobile phone calls by patients and visitors do not interfere with communications.

We have built a healthcare cloud with our partners; Ascom is one of them. The cloud provides not only the network, but also the workspace and applications for healthcare professionals for managing patient data, from, for example, alarm systems and heart monitors. When information is in the cloud, exchanging information between applications becomes easier as it is standardized for healthcare organisations.

With the Healthcare Cloud KPN has created a Dutch hub that makes it easier for organisations to set up a workspace where they can connect people and exchange information. The hub is restricted to certified organisations. The majority of hospitals and almost all the general practitioners, pharmacists and other healthcare organizations in the Netherlands are on the hub.

What are the advantages of Ascom's interoperability program for the cellular technology sector?

RO. We have expanded our interoperability program to cover third-party vendors in the cellular technology sector, including telecom operators, to make sure we test and validate our devices on their networks. Our aim is to ensure that the installed base of medical devices and other infrastructure in a hospital talk seamlessly to each other. We therefore partner with operators who can supply the secure and reliable connectivity that the healthcare sector needs, such as KPN in the Netherlands.

What services will Ascom offer to the healthcare sector?

RO. The combination of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies enables us to deliver innovative applications for healthcare. We can mobilise information to deliver it at the point of care, such as apps that supply patient data wherever you are. Our solutions also reduce alarm fatigue because we make sure that the right alarm arrives at the right person, preventing the systems from beeping all day long. We are improving clinical workflows with our applications, which will give better operational efficiency and reduce costs. These all influence patient safety because errors are reduced and staff can respond quicker when a patient is in need. It will also lead to improved employee satisfaction.

How can a healthcare provider achieve the highest return on investment?

RO. There are many ways to define return on investment. It is about money, but patient safety is the most important factor for return on investment. Hospitals should focus on their core business which is to take care of patients in an optimal way. Low mortality rate, patient satisfaction and reduced length of stay are important. Our solutions help healthcare providers optimize their core business. These include mobilizing information at the point of care, supporting intelligent workflows such as drug administration, increased throughput of radiology services, and reducing alarm fatigue. The solutions optimize the clinical workflows and empower care givers in their jobs. A happy employee delivers the best service and contributes to higher patient satisfaction.