SCF (Small Cell Forum), the telecoms organization driving universal cellular coverage, is engaging with the healthcare sector to support the deployment of small cells in order to address the considerable risks of poor connectivity.
Research commissioned by SCF shows that two thirds of healthcare workers face challenges in their day-to-day jobs because of poor cellular coverage.
In an environment where there may be seconds to save a life, or where a missed message can have as serious consequences, ubiquitous connectivity is vital. Small cells offer a secure and cost effective way to provide robust high-speed indoor voice and data coverage that is simple to install and similar in size to a Wi-Fi Access Point. Small cells also provide a flexible platform to deliver a wide-range of on-site applications and services.
SCF, whose members include leading operators, silicon vendors and equipment manufacturers, is working directly with healthcare organisations around the world to demonstrate how small cells can cost effectively achieve five-bar coverage throughout medical facilities.
“There is a growing reliance on cellular for delivering services and improving patient care, across an ever-growing range of healthcare scenarios, making connectivity a critical issue,” said Kristan Kline, Principal, Chief Technology Office at Kaiser Permanente. “From automatically checking patients into their appointments when they arrive, informing them of the room to proceed to, to paying for their care all rely on a combination of cellular and Wi-Fi. Ensuring that our members have the coverage that they need, supporting multiple different cell phone carriers, and managing the cost of service are the key drivers for us.”
“Healthcare is a sector where the lack of reliable mobile connectivity can quite literally be a matter of life or death,” said SCF Chair David Orloff. “Healthcare providers are increasingly using wireless connectivity to improve efficiency, increase access to clinical information as well as provide an enhanced patient experience. We are delighted to be working with stakeholders from across the healthcare industy in order to deliver on the vision of ubiquitous, high-quality cellular coverage.”
SCF case studies clearly demonstrate that there are many areas of healthcare where mobile connectivity and full integration to converged networks with all professionals accessing data from mobile devices, can significantly improve efficiency, reduce cost, enhance patient experience, and even save lives. They include:
Mobile voice and data services for hospital or care home patients and visitors.
Smart personal healthcare, such as fitness and self-monitoring of vital signs.
Assisted living, such as monitoring or diagnosing vulnerable people in their homes and issuing alerts via mobile spectrum.
Remote healthcare, such as diagnosis and advice via a smartphone, and in the future remote surgery.
Mobile access to cloud resources, allowing doctors or nurses in surgeries to access patient records or use AI-enabled diagnostic tools, for example.
In all these cases, a high quality, completely reliable mobile signal is essential. Indeed, a reliable signal available in every link in the healthcare chain could transform both the healthcare business and outcomes for patients.