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Sarasota Memorial Hospital: Wireless Admissions Process Makes Patients Feel Better

Arriving for a hospital stay can be a difficult experience, but Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida, has made admissions much easier on incoming patients. Formerly, patients waited in the hospital's lobby until admissions reps were ready to process their paperwork. Now, because of a new wireless LAN, patients go right to their rooms, and admissions reps admit them there.

Application: Portable Hospital Admissions through a Wireless LAN
Tom Murphy, Sarasota's supervisor of network services, says that the hospital decided to look at admitting as a process rather than as a department or piece of first-floor real estate (which is at a premium in any health care institution). With that inspiration, Sarasota began a pilot wireless admissions program, which was so successful that the hospital ended up dissolving its admissions department and redesigning its lobby.

Now all patients (except outpatients, who check in at one of six stations in the lobby) are greeted at the door and assigned a room immediately. There they can make telephone calls, watch television, and relax while waiting for an admissions rep to arrive. The reps process admissions using notebook PCs equipped with wireless LAN cards. Through wireless access points strategically positioned on selected floors of the hospital (covering 150- to 200-foot areas through walls, ceilings, and floors), reps have uninterrupted, interactive access to data on the LAN from anywhere in the hospital.

Benefits: Prompter Care, More Comfortable Patients - and Better Services for Hospital Staff
With the wireless LAN, each patient has one less stop to make. That means that Sarasota can make patients more comfortable while it speeds up admissions, and admissions reps are finding their jobs easier now that they're dealing with much more relaxed patients. Another plus: In the event of a disaster, triage teams can meet ambulances in the driveway and use the wireless system to begin admissions immediately.

But the benefits of Sarasota's streamlined admission process extend well beyond admitting patients. "Because patients are getting where they need to be on time, the wireless LAN also helps keep the nursing unit and areas like surgery and radiology on schedule," says Jeff Williamson, director of admissions before the change and now a project consultant.

And with the wireless LAN now accessible from most parts of the hospital, nurses can now track patient room changes and enter orders for lab work and patient services from portable PCs rather than terminals. A conference room has become an instant classroom. A hard-to-wire auditorium is now equipped with PC demo facilities. And mobile workers, such as network services staff, can now access the network from other facilities.

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