NSW Health completes massive hospital, health service wi-fi rollout

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NSW Health completes massive hospital, health service wi-fi rollout

All 150,000 staff now have access to state-wide wireless core platform.

eHealth NSW has completed its state-wide wireless core networking rollout, with all NSW Health staff now able to access secure wi-fi at hospitals and health services.

The final stages of the platform’s deployment, which the digital arm of NSW Health has described as the “largest wireless network investment in NSW”, reached the completion milestone last month.

It gives the state’s 150,000 clinical and non-clinical staff access to a consistent, secure wireless experience when moving between NSW Health sites for the first time.

eHealth embarked on the project, which forms part of the state’s wider Health Wide Area Network (HWAN), in 2017 to improve connectivity across the state’s hospitals and health services.  

A spokesperson told iTnews that since first production site for the state-wide wireless core project went live in February 2018, the state had amassed wireless infrastructure at 530 NSW Health sites.

“As a 1 January 2020, 530 NSW Health sites have been completed, allowing NSW Health staff and clinicians to seamlessly and securely roam across the state,” the spokesperson said.

The infrastructure was built and deployed in partnership with HP Aruba, Cisco and Matrix CNI.

eHealth is also in the process of introducing free wi-fi for patients and visitors, with more than 80 NSW Health sites currently offering the service.

For program manager Jason Mathews, the platform has resulted in better communication and collaboration between staff, particularly those individuals who work across multiple sites.

“Our wireless network allows staff to communicate and collaborate using Skype for Business and supports our efforts to deliver free patient wi-fi,” he said in a statement last month.

“Telehealth ‘use cases’ involving partner organisations are also supported through the network.”

Clinical and non-clinical staff previously relied on a motley of different networking infrastructure, including existing wi-fi networks specific to each NSW Health site, for network access.

However, according to Western Sydney Laboratories group operations manager Vicki Pitsiavas, network access wasn’t always “available or reliable”.

“Prior to Western Sydney LHD going wireless, I relied on a Telstra 4G dongle to access my work,” she said.

“Now I just open my laptop and I’m connected. Importantly, this means our clinicians can get access to their notes, share information, and consult with colleagues, no matter where they are.”

The wireless platform also unlocks the potential for a digitally-enabled healthcare system through infrastructure like digital patient records, which clinicians can now access “anytime, anywhere”.

The spokesperson said the platform would also “establish a foundation for the future connectivity of integrated medical devices and the Internet of Things”.

“This could be anything from providing a state-wide dashboard view of all of the temperature alarms for blood fridges, to the future possibility of connecting and securely controlling wearable devices for patients,” the spokesperson said.

Late last year, NSW Health Pathology and eHealth started trialing a new data sharing system to provide point-of-care clinical and pathology results in close to real-time.

The system, which is supported by Microsoft Azure, could be used to test patients in a greater number of locations in the future.

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