Nearly one-third of hospitals in the U.S. have deployed a wireless connectivity system in their healthcare organizations, according to the HIMSS Analytics Database.

HIMSS Analytics is a subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS; both Chicago). The company collects and analyzes healthcare data related to IT processes and environments, products, IS department composition and costs, IS department management metrics, healthcare trends and purchase-related decisions.

NetMotion Wireless (Seattle), a provider of mobile productivity and management software, recently sponsored a focus group study in which researchers from HIMSS Analytics set out to identify some of the biggest challenges senior IT executives face when implementing wireless applications and devices in healthcare settings.

Institutions represented in the focus groups ranged from large (1,000+ bed) urban health systems to small (100-bed) rural organizations. All of the participants managed IT for diversified healthcare companies with hospitals, sub-acute, ambulatory and home health operations. Participants in the focus groups identified the following five key challenges that are detailed in the study:

Physical connectivity issues.

Technology connectivity issues.

Extensive user demand.


Network management.

As indicated in the report, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes $20 billion to promote the adoption and use of health information technology (HIT) and especially electronic health records (EHRs).

NetMotion Wireless noted that although there is no specific mention of wireless technology in the legislation, it can be inferred that since the funding is tied directly to migrating to an electronic health record environment, the use of wireless technology to capture and manage patient data electronically at the point of care, and to share this data with other caregivers, will be a key driver in wireless technology adoption for the next five years.

"In theory, secure mobile access to medical records and imaging, prescriptions, and even general administrative databases, should allow doctors, nurses and medics to treat more patients faster, more accurately, and with greater flexibility – from any location in a large hospital, during home visits, or at the scene of an ambulance response," said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director, research, at HIMSS Analytics.

"However," she added, "often the anticipated productivity gains are hampered by a series of fairly common issues related to wireless networks. This report examines some of those key issues and identifies some approaches healthcare agencies are utilizing to address them."

Pam Cory, vice president of marketing at NetMotion Wireless, said, "For hospitals and healthcare agencies across the country, NetMotion Wireless helps mitigate many of the common challenges raised in this new report about wireless deployments. Our Mobile Virtual Private Network, Mobility XE, provides secure connectivity, device and application management, and enhances the productivity of both the end users and IT managers."

She added, "Our software provides healthcare professionals seamless roaming across wireless networks, and when connections are lost, automatically maintains application sessions freeing clinicians to focus on their patients, and not on their mobile laptop or device."

NetMotion Wireless supports the critical-care operations of numerous healthcare providers, from hospitals and healthcare organizations such as St. Luke's Episcopal Health System, the Marshfield Clinic and Lee Memorial Health System to home healthcare organizations such as the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

The company also supports the mobile deployments of a number of emergency medical services and other ambulatory care organizations.

NetMotion Wireless' Mobile VPN, Mobility XE, enhances mobile worker productivity at more than 1,500 organizations across multiple industries including healthcare, communications, public safety, local government, transportation and many others.