Digital connectivity in the NHS

Millions of people are being treated by the NHS every year, and even more are visiting family and friends in hospitals and healthcare centres across the UK. Behind the scenes, there are hundreds of processes underway to ensure the smooth running of services. Digital connectivity already plays a big part in these operations, and with the NHS phasing out pagers, while also working to become paperless in the near future, the importance of digital connectivity in hospitals and other healthcare practices is on the rise.

We believe there are three key ways that in-building mobile connectivity can enhance current NHS digital connectivity provisions.

Resilience

Currently, the foremost method of digital communication in hospitals comes from WiFi and fixed-line connections, allowing digital systems to run from a centrally located server. But what happens if/when this server connection is disrupted? We’ve seen it happen – where communications across a hospital’s entire network are halted; and in this instance, the resultant issues caused trouble throughout the downtime and beyond. With increasing reliance on digital devices and life-saving technologies remaining online, resilience network issues must be taken seriously.

Carrier-grade indoor mobile connectivity is a compelling option. Direct network access from all four UK mobile network operators can act as a resilient layer of connectivity and keep key digital systems online when all else fails.

Patient-centricity

We are all increasingly reliant on digital devices in our daily lives, and this doesn’t change when we or a loved one becomes unwell. In fact, it can often increase! Similarly, healthcare staff are just like the rest of us, needing their devices on hand to stay connected with the outside world.

In the healthcare buildings and centres we’ve already connected, staff and patients have given critical positive feedback. When connected, shifts become more efficient and service users have a better experience. Similarly, visitors can be present with less onus on the staff or patient, children can be more easily entertained and distracted, and longer waits become more bearable for everyone.

And most importantly, in moments of crisis or difficulty, no one needs to step outside or leave their loved one alone in order to make a call.

Future-proofing

Trials for 5G-enabled ambulances are already underway, while a 5G remote-controlled “robo-glove” that can conduct scans and relay real-time results to a clinician at a hospital was demonstrated in an NHS hospital last month.

None of these exciting advancements will be possible without the right level of connectivity inside. So although we’re only just starting to move towards premium 4G as the primary connectivity spectrum available indoors; whatever infrastructure it takes to connect your building today will remain the foundation for future 5G connectivity.

To see a selection of our managed sites, including for the NHS, click here.

25 July 2019