Networking optimize

Wireless technology played a big role in my surgery


A few weeks ago I went through an interesting—I can say that now—series of health-related events. Bottom line, I had three blocked coronary arteries and needed bypass surgery. Now in the mending and self-reflecting stage, I am realizing that wireless technology played a very significant part in my getting through this latest adventure/ordeal—depending on how long it has been since I had my last pain pill.

Diagnosing the problem

The use of wireless technology became evident right after my diagnostic angiogram was completed. I noticed that all of the doctors and technicians were carrying PDAs or tablet notebooks. One reason why became apparent after I was wheeled back into my recovery room. It seemed like an ad-hoc netmeeting was taking place where my cardiologist and several others were all viewing the results of my angiogram and deciding on what the next step should be. I asked a nurse about that and found out that my guess was correct. The nurse further explained that the wireless PDAs and tablet notebooks allow many more doctors to participate in the diagnosis since there is no need for a formally scheduled meeting at a specified location to view the results. Sounds good to me, I firmly believe that having more participants offering advice will result in exponentially better answers.

Wireless EKG telemetry

Having a heart condition makes one acutely aware of EKGs and the various sensors that need to be attached to one’s skin. The diligence used to attach these sensors discloses the importance of EKGs and being able to monitor the heart’s condition constantly. Here again wireless technology is helping to make EKG monitoring more efficient as well as continuous. The whole time I was in the hospital my heart was remotely monitored by a telemetry package. It consisted of three components: real-time patient data application and associated hardware, networking infrastructure operating in the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), and a remote EKG sensor device. The remote EKG sensor consists of five or six sensor leads attached to a small 1”x3”x 6” plastic box. This device allowed the cardiac care personnel to keep track of me and the condition of my heart no matter where I was on the floor. It does not take much thought to see how useful and important having this capability is to the people responsible for my care.

The use of wireless EKG systems is not just for critical in-patient care. Three times a week I have cardiac rehab and my heart is again constantly monitored using a remote EKG telemetry unit while I am doing my exercises and conditioning. It allows the physical therapist to alter my conditioning program in real-time so I gain the most benefit without over-taxing my heart. It also alerts the therapists to any abnormal situations. To gain an appreciation of this, visualize trying to do all of this while attached to the normal EKG machine that most clinics use.

Communication devices for hospital staff

I noticed two unique communication devices being used in the hospital. The communication devices were wireless VoIP phone sets and wireless communication badges. Doctors and special technicians were using the wireless VoIP phones and as far as I could see the phone sets did not have any special features making them unique for the hospital environment.

The communication badges are unique devices and appear to be almost indispensable to the remaining hospital staff members. The badge is a voice-controlled communications device that operates on an 802.11b/g WLAN, allowing the user to talk directly to other staff members or receive telephone calls through the internal PBX. The nursing staff mentioned two benefits that are not readily apparent, but make a great deal of sense. One benefit is instant communications between critical care staff, hands-free if necessary and totally eliminating the “page and wait” requirement of normal phone systems. The other benefit is reduced system-wide paging. I did not even think about this, but after paying attention, it is a very much appreciated feature, especially when trying to sleep.

Final thoughts

I doubt seriously that I was able to get a glimpse at all of the applications using wireless technology, but the ones that I did recognize were very impressive and I for one was very happy for their existence. I would appreciate learning about any other applications using wireless technology in the medical field.

About

Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

21 comments
Communication22
Communication22

Glad to hear that you're recovering, we've just implemented the Vocera 802.11 communications device and it's smartphone clients in our hospital. It's made it much easier to give our patients the care that they need when they need it.

drkllpnt
drkllpnt

It is good to know that you are doing well after your surgery. I used to work as an EKG technician a few years ago and I can tell you that while the wireless technology for cardiac patients is great, it is also extremely expensive which might be why you don't see it implemented in some areas. Also I am curious as to the security issues that wireless tech brings up.. hopefully no one but the authorized people are monitoring your vital stats...

GSG
GSG

You pretty much can't be competitive out there without a strong wireless solution. We have the wireless EKG carts, some lab tests can be performed on a device right at the bedside with immediate results transmitted to the patient's chart. The current focus is on Smart Phone technology. Our providers can be in another country and as long as they have a signal on their smart phone, they can check the latest vitals, lab results, radiology reports, etc... and immediately update the nurse on the plan of care.

fishcad
fishcad

Good timing on seeing your post as I just read a newspaper article stating that too many health care providers are not making use of technology to share information. My California GP was using a mini-laptop to record exam notes a year ago. Unfortunately my wife recently wound up in an urgent care unit of one of the biggest health care systems here in New Mexico. When she later went to her primary care physician - two blocks away and in the same system - they did not have any of the information from her original treatment. They had to make several phones calls to get a complete report FAXed to their office.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thank all of you for the regards, and especially thank you for the added information. I was in a bit of a fog most the time at the hospital, but being the wireless geek that I am I was noticing all sorts of amazing technology. I hope to continue my research in this area and present more articles.

rroberts
rroberts

I appreciate your article on wireless technology. As an EMT myself (aside from my "day job" that pays the bills - being an EMT doesn't pay much unfortunately), I utilize an interesting wireless component in my work. It is an EKG that attaches to my Treo smartphone via Bluetooth. This is the ActiveECG from ActiveCenter.com. The difference with this unit? It is slightly larger than my Treo. This is a "Lead II EKG", meaning only one view of the heart, unlike a 12-lead unit, but it gives us a very important tool at our disposal for helping to diagnose patients quickly in the field. No, I am not marketing this device. I feel strongly that this unit has a wonderful place in emergency medicine, and has not been promoted nearly enough.

michael.brodock
michael.brodock

We use wireless printers as well so that specimens can be taken at the patients bedside. The EKG telemetry is a very nice feature. Was a real pain to get setup right and has its own network, but definitely a good thing. We are slowly implementing wireless in most of the hospital, but it is very costly. There are quite a few areas, especially in Radiology where the walls are designed to prevent signals from going through. Overall though, health care is definitely investing money in IT, or at least where I am at. We have also been named in the top 100 hospitals in the US 3 years in a row, so I hope that IT at least has a part in that. :) I do hope you have a successful and speedy recovery.

NexS
NexS

Necrospamming.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Thank you for the kind thought, it is very much appreciated. The wireless EKG devices that I was connected to used WMTS (Wireless Medical Telemetry Service) technology which runs in the 600MHz frequency range. So that would keep all but very specialized snoopers from monitoring. I am sure other members that have a much better understanding of all the security required in the medical field could comment about how a patient's information is protected. I know of several governmental regulations and protocols that they are required to follow to insure patient privacy. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act comes to mind as one.

santeewelding
santeewelding

But, it lacks a certain...panache. Let's you and I -- others, if they care -- work on this. The usual suspects (necrophilia, necromancy, et ali), they just don't seem to work. Let's put our deadened heads together.

seanferd
seanferd

Here I was thinking. "Oh, what an interesting article to be brought back up after so long." Silly me. Silly, silly me.

NexS
NexS

Like year-old chocolate. :D

NexS
NexS

Rats don't put up much of a fight.

maecuff
maecuff

depends on the corpse.

GSG
GSG

except for the vegetarians. I personally like my animal flesh to be dead before I start dining on it. I don't eat things that are still alive and kicking.

neilb
neilb

to describe spamming on old threads is "necrophagy". It means to feed on corpses. :)

NexS
NexS

Spamming of these such Blog replies could be considered as Necrophilia. Words like 'Zombiefilth' are quite derogatory, which can be a good thing, but the fluency is lacking. It needs to roll outward and easily.