WWHI forms group to standardize in-hospital wireless

By Brian Dolan
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Nox Medical"Assurance is the number one fear for new wireless sensor companies looking to work in the hospital environment," Ed Cantwell, a new Senior Vice President at the West Wireless Health Institute, told MobiHealthNews in an interview on-site at the HIMSS event in Orlando, Fla. Cantwell said that the four principles of assurance are coverage, signal strength, capacity, and certainty.

"We continue to be focused aggressively on the question: How do we lower healthcare costs?" WWHI CEO Don Casey told MobiHealthNews. "One of the best ways a not-for-profit medical research organization can do that is to help create standards and protocols that can facilitate adoption of different parts of the mHealth ecosystem. We believe that once those are set up, established, and adopted, it will set off a flurry of innovation. With the virtual explosion of wireless medical devices used in hospitals, coupled with consumer oriented communications devices that have come into the hospital environment, we think we can play a role in creating a reliable utility-like resource. In order to do that we went out to find someone with the entrepreneurial zeal, expertise and practical bent of having actually executed these type projects to lead our initiaitive in this space." That's where Cantwell comes in.

Does the wireless network blanket the facility? Is the signal strength strong enough? Is there enough capacity? Will another wireless or connected device interfere with the new one?

"We believe that creating some standards and architectures that guarantee those four things would allow anyone -- from GE Healthcare to Carefusion to Sotera Wireless -- to develop with confidence that there will be an environment that will guarantee their devices and applications will work," Casey said.

Cantwell is leading the not-for-profit institute's initiative to help create these standard by forming a steering committee made up of hospital CIOs who have had success with wireless networking in their facilities as well as CIOs who haven't yet along with CTOs, CMOs, wireless operator executives and regulators from the FCC and FDA.

"The platform of wireless health is the wild wild west right now," Canwell said. "We need to turn it into a reliable, medical-grade wireless utility."

Cantwell said the plan is to work with the steering committee, which is just being formed now, to formulate a reference architecture that is executable right away.

"Our objective is that by mid-year we will have a first version of the architecture," he said.