High-tech hospital points to future

High-tech hospital points to future

Wireless data communications linked to thin client technology.

Like all hospitals, Warringal Private Hospital in Heidelberg, Victoria, strives to reduce the cost of patient care and administration costs, while improving the quality of service.

As the hospital continues to grow, this will become a harder task. But now with the support of a wireless network, the 134-bed hospital is delivering efficient, accurate, and timely care direct to the bedside.

Clinicians can monitor patient records from the point of activity via wireless and thin client technology.

Clinical, nursing, and administration staff immediately access and enter individual patient information, pathology results, pharmaceutical information and other health and organisational matters, via a radio frequency-based portable data terminal connected to the wireless computer network.

Warringal, Australia's largest private hospital and health care operator, enagaged Symbol Technologies as its partner in this endeavour. The installation consists of 10 Symbol PPT 4340 pen-based portable data entry terminals that wirelessly connect over Symbol's Spectrum24 network to seven Radio Frequency-based access points strategically placed throughout the hospital.


The access points in turn connect to a Citrix Metaframe server computer as a thin client installation. The Citrix server enables the data entry terminals to access all fixed-location computers on Warrinagal's local area network.

The hospital's server runs Clinical Pathways software, Microsoft Office applications, terminal emulation software, maintenance applications and an online pharmacy database.

Medical staff can log in to the pathology service provider via the network and look up patient pathology reports, without having to leave that patient. Mobile unit staff can also access any of the hospital's six network printers with the terminals to produce hard copy printouts, while maintenance staff can use the terminals for on-the-fly equipment checks and repairs.

"By eliminating a lot of manual paperwork, filing and retrieval at fixed locations, it has enabled staff to access required patient information and enact real time point-of-care activities," said Mark Plummer, who has driven the implementation within the hospital.

The flexibility of the network has been boosted through the development of an intranet on Warringal's server, on which resides an electronic database of hospital policies and procedures and doctor contact details for each patient.

"Accessing the server via the wireless terminal enables nursing staff to contact a patient's treating doctor immediately from that patient's bedside, should the occasion arise," said Mr Plummer. "Previously, a nurse would have to go back to a central location and manually look up a booklet of numbers to get the relevant information."

"The terminals enable all hospital staff - clinical, medical and maintenance - to quickly capture required information once at the source, and to place the decision point where the work needs to be performed," added Warringal's commercial manager, Michael Sammells.