Healthcare industry discards wires

The analyst house projects that Wi-Fi and security shipments within the healthcare industry will rise significantly over the next three years. Healthcare accounted for about 8% of security shipments and revenue in 2000. However, it is expected to reach 15% of both shipments and revenue by 2006.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  July 2, 2003

The healthcare vertical is turning its attention beyond general technology to more specific core applications, according to In-Stat/MDR. The analyst house projects that Wi-Fi and security shipments within the healthcare industry will rise significantly over the next three years. Healthcare accounted for about 8% of security shipments and revenue in 2000, but it is expected to reach 15% of both shipments and revenue by 2006. This will primarily be spurred by government mandates for more secure transfer and storage of data in such environments.

“The healthcare vertical, over the past several years, has fallen behind many of the other vertical markets in terms of technology adoption. However, as emerging forces place increasing pressure on this market, the need to update the IT infrastructure is intensifying,” says Amy Cravens, a senior Analyst with In-Stat/MDR. “Emerging government standards, such as HIPAA, are mandating a more robust and standardised approach to electronic communications and networking from healthcare providers. Additionally, given the changing nature of the healthcare industry, technology is the only promise for future improvements to medical services.”

One area that is showing rapid growth within the healthcare vertical industry is Wireless LAN (WLAN) and the applications that it enables. Although the healthcare environment has always been a principle vertical for WLAN, adoption has increased further with the availability of higher speed and more robust solutions. Many healthcare organisations that had a pre-standard solution in place, operating at 2 Mbps, have upgraded to 11 Mbps 802.11b, or even to 54 Mbps 802.11a or 802.11g. A variety of applications, from point-of-care data entry/electronic patient charting to Voice over WLAN are being introduced on these networks.

According to Instat, a majority of healthcare organisations have migrated to Fast Ethernet, and a few have even implemented Gigabit Ethernet. While Gigabit Ethernet is still relatively rare at the network edge, many organisations are using this higher speed technology in the network core.

Meanwhile, as WLAN becomes more pervasive in the market, we also see the simultaneous emergence of a greater variety of WLAN client devices that will in turn, encourage its use in the industry. Laptops still continue to be the most common WLAN enabled device in hospital-based organizations currently although the analyst house feels that other products such as PDAs and tablet PCs will also gain ground in the environment.

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