Calls for hospital patients to be given Wi-Fi access

Research reveals 64% of trusts do not offer Wi-Fi to patients

A significant number of people use Smartphone technology in their everyday lives, but few trusts provide WiFi access for patients and staff

Only a third of hospital inpatients have access to Wi-Fi during their stay, recent research has revealed.

Despite a significant number of people using the internet from smartphones and tablet devices in their everyday life, hospitals are lagging behind when it comes to providing services for patients when they are in hospital.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request by Enterasys Networks, which found that 64% of NHS trusts did not offer Wi-Fi to patients. Instead, most patients still have to rely on expensive outsourced bedside TV, internet and phone systems, which often cost £10 or more a day.

There are so many ways that Wi-Fi can be used to benefit patients as well as staff in the healthcare sector, yet it’s one of the slowest to seize the opportunity that BYOD offers

Commenting on the research, Harley Street psychotherapist, Jennifer Dew, argued that patients who can regularly converse with family and friends using personal devices while they recuperate suffer less from isolation and loneliness and are more likely to make a speedier recovery.

She added: “It’s important for patients to easily communicate with their loved ones from their hospital bed, and using their own device is by far the easiest option for them. If access to Wi-Fi helps to make some patients get better sooner, what’s not to like?”

The survey of 78 acute NHS trusts also found that the lack of Wi-Fi being offered to patients extended to NHS staff. A total of 82% of NHS organisations do not permit staff to connect personal devices to the hospital’s Wi-Fi network. Meanwhile, just 10% of trusts have in place a formal ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy for staff.

Mark Pearce, strategic alliance director at Enterasys Networks, said: “There are so many ways that Wi-Fi can be used to benefit patients as well as staff in the healthcare sector, yet it’s one of the slowest to seize the opportunity that BYOD offers. The public has a growing appetite to be connected, and the technology is there to make it happen securely, safely and reliably.”

And he claimed that, if the Government wants to invest in and improve the NHS, incentivising trusts to open their Wi-Fi networks and expand connectivity is an inexpensive way to make a difference.

He told BBH : “The key to making this a success would be a robust strategy for hospitals to allow mobile devices to connect safely and securely – a BYOD policy.”

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