Last weekend we visited a friend of my wife who was in the hospital. After a solid week she was bored as can be and even resorted to making Christmas ornaments. And as if a week wasn’t bad enough, a relative of mine just completed 5-6 months straight in the hospital. Being in the hospital is hard because you’re in a fairly bland room with white walls, a tile floor, medical instruments all around you, and very few things that are familiar. The TV, newspapers, telephone, and visitors are your only links to the outside world, and it can be very hard to find out information on your condition while you are laid up.
While pondering this dilemna I thought that the thing hospitals need is wifi in each room and a few lap tops available for patient use. Apparently some hospitals are already on their way (link).
Apparently RFID technology has pushed the wifi trend forward (links here and here). Doctors can now take lap tops with them as they visit patients and input data directly into their records. With instant access available from any point in hospitals, many credit wifi with significantly cutting back costs on record keeping and inventory tracking. One hospital in Britain is even tracking patients using wifi technology (link).
But if hospitals provided wifi to their patients, and even a few loaner lap tops on each floor, I think that the quality of hosptial stays could be increased significantly. First all, the crucial communication provided via e-mail would surely be a real help. You can only talk on the phone so much and that can get expensive, even with a cheap calling card. E-mail is a fast way to get a complete update on your condition out to everyone you know.
Even more importantly, a pateint who has been diagnosed with a certain condition can quickly access a wealth of information and make better informed decisions with the help of the internet. The stories I hear from hospitals typically involve at least one person doing hours of research to help make up for a mistake or the incomplete information provided by a doctor. Internet access from your room would hopefully reduce such errors.
Of course there are all kinds of problems and needs in the world, and wifi access in hospital rooms may not be as important as say earthquake relief in Pakistan or bringing assistance to Africa in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, but I think it’s worth utilizing wifi for the benefit of patients if hosptials are already putting the technology to work for their administrations and doctors.