Scripps medical building gets 'universal' wireless network

By Neil Versel
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West Wireless Health Institute

West Wireless Health Institute

In the latest step toward creating a standard architecture for wireless healthcare networks, San Diego-based Scripps Health has opened a new medical office building with a single, "universal" wireless network designed to handle all manners of devices, from smartphones and tablets to vitals monitors and infusion pumps.

Scripps Health, a founding affiliate of the West Wireless Health Institute, recently replaced the Scripps Coastal Medical Center office building in Oceanside, Calif., with a new, 33,500-square-foot facility that the health system says is the first in San Diego County to have this type of network. The infrastructure can isolate segments of bandwidth to let many different types of devices—including those belonging to patients and visitors—to operate simultaneously, according to San Diego-based Scripps.

"This is the medical building of the future," Scripps Coastal Medical Group CEO Dr. Kevin Hirsch says in a press release, without elaborating.

Scripps Health eventually will install this type of network in all of its sites, including four acute care hospitals. Next up is the new critical care building being built at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas and the Prebys Cardiovascular Institute under construction at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

Scripps joins other health systems that, as part of the West Wireless Health Council's Executive Committee, have agreed to test what has been dubbed the "medical-grade wireless open framework," a planned standardized architecture intended to turn wireless data movement into a utility like electricity and plumbing. Scripps CIO Patric R. Thomas is a member of that advisory committee, as are CTO Mark S. Wiesenberg, biomedical engineering director Marcia Wylie and Bruce Rainey, the health system's corporate vice president for facilities design and construction.

Several other hospitals represented on the committee have had the technology since early this year. The list includes Children's Hospital Los Angeles, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., and UMass Memorial Health Care's HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, Mass.