How Wireless Broadband Enables Better Healthcare

In the near future, healthcare transformation will vastly improve patient outcomes through a combination of IoT technology and software platforms. But what could connected healthcare look like for healthcare providers and patients?

Consider these possible scenarios:
A patient equipped with a connected heart monitor enters the early stages of cardiac arrest. The hospital is notified immediately, and dispatches paramedics to assist. What could have been a fatal heart attack is instead merely an unpleasant evening.

A manufacturer receives a notification that an MRI machine is due for maintenance. Within the hour, they’ve scheduled a visit to the hospital. Downloading the specifications and technical documents to their tablet, they’re able to ensure the device remains operational, saving the hospital from a costly repair bill.

A physician notices that their patient has not been taking her medicine, thanks to sensor-equipped pills. Concerned, they contact the woman, who informs them the medication has several unpleasant side effects. They schedule a consultation to change her treatment plan, ensuring she receives the care she needs.

A car accident victim is brought into the ER, which is experiencing an influx of patients. Opening their patient onboarding app, hospital staff quickly determine which beds are available and contact a physician. Rather than wasting precious minutes determining where the patient should go, the staff is able to keep patient flow quick, efficient, and streamlined.

A physician steps up to a console. The controls are connected to a robot halfway around the world, which is performing a complicated surgical procedure – the patient is too ill to be transported, and they cannot quickly bring the surgeon there. The procedure is completed without a hitch, and the patient’s life is saved.

What do all of these stories have in common?

Simple – they represent the future of connected healthcare. Access to quality care is not limited to patients in major urban centers. At the foundation is broadband connectivity.

“IoT devices are used for several different things in healthcare, and not all connected devices are using Wi-Fi to communicate data,” writes Elizabeth O’Dowd of Health IT Infrastructure. “Wi-Fi, along with broadband, is needed to support a full ecosystem of connected medical devices from inside and outside the organization.”

The problem, explains O’Dowd, is that compared to broadband, Wi-Fi is inherently unreliable. Healthcare is an inherently mobile industry. Physicians, nurses, and support staff alike routinely move throughout the facilities in which they work. If they are to rely on Wi-Fi for connectivity, this will often mean switching between several distinct nodes or networks.

That’s far from the only weakness inherent in Wi-Fi. A non-broadband network can easily become overloaded, leading to traffic bottlenecks and wasting valuable time in an industry where every second counts. While proper planning can eliminate much of this bottleneck, a dedicated broadband solution is by far the superior choice – and not just because of on-site connectivity.
There’s also the matter of telehealth. Remote care has the potential to vastly improve the lives of many patients. This is particularly true of those who are too ill or injured to make the trip to a hospital themselves.

“Telehealth includes much more than patients video conferencing with remote health care providers,” explains Barbara Mantel of Rural Health Quarterly.

“It allows medical specialists at regional and urban hospitals to examine patients in rural hospitals and emergency physicians to provide care to patients being transported by ambulance. It allows general practitioners to virtually examine patients at home and nurses to monitor the vital signs of a patient discharged from the hospital.”

Unfortunately, it’s traditionally something that’s only been feasible for those who dwell in major urban centers. Sadly many patients are too far away from a hospital to receive proper care. Broadband has the potential to solve this.

Consider, for example, the Kingdom of Jordan. With many of its residents living in rural or underserved areas, the government in 2011 initiated a project which would establish a nationwide broadband network to enable better patient care. Through a combination of video, security, and network technologies, patients are able to enjoy better care than ever – mobile health clinics provide access to screenings that might otherwise be unavailable, and local physicians can immediately connect to urban centers and collaborate with surgeons and other experts.

Already, more than one hundred ten thousand patients have benefitted from the initiative – including a young mother of five who received a diagnosis for a heart condition she’d unknowingly suffered with for years.

The first step to making stories like this possible in your own region lies in establishing a public broadband network. By collaborating with hospitals and other public sector institutions, you can establish a city-wide infrastructure that enables seamless connectivity for your residents. And once you’ve done that, you can connect with other nearby municipalities to collaborate on further expanding that network.

But municipal broadband is a unique challenge and one which requires a distinctive set of talents and skills. That’s where we come in.

TD Madison is a leader in executive recruitment, technical training, and staff augmentation for the broadband industry. We have for years helped cities ensure a safer, more connected future. We’re an ideal recruitment partner for any town or city that wishes to proceed with building its own wireless or wired broadband network, whether that’s for healthcare or for anything else you might conceive.

Wireless broadband and the Internet of Things are the future of healthcare. Together, they ensure better care both on-site and off, a more seamless patient onboarding experience, and ultimately, better patient outcomes. At the end of the day, healthcare is about saving and improving lives – and anything that allows health organizations to be better at those tasks is well worth the effort.