Study shows no Hamlet doubts for wireless in health care, it is definitely to be

Amherst 15 March 2002The health care industry has taken its own pulse and declared that wireless technology can help solve some of its woes, according to a new study by Technology Assessment Associates, a marketing and technology strategy company. The research firm found that, like most industries, health care is struggling with tight budgets and decreased earnings. While acknowledging these economic drawbacks, many health care professionals say that investments in wireless technology are needed to help improve overall patient care.


Despite the cost containment initiatives which present barriers to investing in new information technology, the health care industry is poised to adopt wireless devices and applications in large numbers. A rapidly increasing number of health care professionals now believe that wireless technology will provide improved data accuracy and reduce errors.

Until recently, cost, form factor and service issues slowed acceptance and adoption of wireless devices by hospitals and practitioners. Improved reliability, higher data rates, and the evolution of robust endpoint devices with longer battery life are now enabling health care providers to justify the investment in wireless technology. As reliability, price points, and health care application availability continue to improve, the proliferation of wireless-enabled devices will leave no area of clinical care untouched.

Propelled by the perceived value of wireless as a way to increase service levels while controlling operating costs, the number of wireless devices in health care will triple by 2005, according to the study by Technology Assessment Associates. "We are past the proof-of-concept phase", explained George Perros, Technology Assessment's Managing Director. "The early adopters have weighed in, and the results clearly indicate that wireless technology in health care is efficient, reliable, and patient- and caregiver-friendly."

Health care delivery is being increasingly mobilised through the use of wireless technologies. Physician acceptance, once thought to be an impediment to wireless growth in this sector, is being mitigated by the annual wave of new MDs, many of who used wireless devices in medical school. Wireless-enabled handheld usage by United States physicians will climb to 55 percent by 2005, up from the current 18 percent.

Metropolitan-area hospitals, particularly those with academic teaching affiliations, have been active in adopting wireless systems for medical records, diagnostics, charting, pharmacy, admissions, billing, and emergency services. For smaller hospitals, the change will be more gradual, with wireless nodes being added to their existing wired local area networks (LANS) as budget cycles permit. Constant and immediate access to patient records, drug interaction databases, and diagnostic results will create a new standard of care.

Home-based telemedicine is gaining acceptance as an effective technology for follow-up care and for monitoring chronic illnesses, such as asthma or diabetes. Demand for telecommunications to transmit medical images will grow as bandwidth-on-demand technologies are commercialised. The health care industry has about ten major wireless players and another two dozen significant participants, all of which are profiled in the study.

Technology Assessment Associates is a marketing and technology strategy company specialising in markets and applications for new technology. The reports and studies are organised and written to be of maximum value to business decision makers. They consist of in-depth analyses, descriptions and evaluations of current and probable future market developments, technology issues, and business factors.

The study Wireless in Healthcare can be ordered from Technology Assessment Associates at USD 2450.

Leslie Versweyveld

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