HIMSS 06: Wireless News

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Learn what’s new from: Alcatel, Eclipsys Corporation and PanGo Networks, InnerWireless, Inc., Meru Networks, Raintree Systems Inc. and SpectraLink

Wireless technology is growing up. It’s no longer a bleeding-edge solution in healthcare. Instead, healthcare enterprises are adopting wireless to solve some of their most pressing problems. A tour of the HIMSS floor indicated that the next big leap for wireless is in the radio frequency identification (RFID) venue. Multiple vendors displayed new wireless tracking and locating systems designed to save healthcare time and resources by instantly locating inventory. Vendors also shared new communications models that further deliver on the promise of wireless: to accelerate clinical decision-making and improve patient care.

Alcatel highlighted at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego its dynamic healthcare communications model, a health care communications solution enabling physicians, nurses and medical staff to advance the workflow processes of health care delivery.
                Chris Vuillaume, vice president for marketing and business development, stressed the key role of communication infrastructure in transforming healthcare. Alcatel's portfolio includes integrated voice, data, video and wireless communications solutions aimed at delivering quality, cost-efficient care to patients. These solutions are helping to evolve the dynamic health care communications model by taking patient care from a traditional 'physician-centric' culture to a collaborative, team-based culture where every clinician has direct affect on care and impact on the bottom line.
                Through this dynamic communications model, the Alcatel health care solution delivers access to information, provides status and availability of clinicians and enables real-time collaboration resulting in improved patient care. Physicians can be called based on availability and specialty through a 'call by skill' PDA feature.

Eclipsys Corporation and PanGo Networks announced at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego a joint partnership to help hospitals and other healthcare organizations expand the value of existing wireless and mobile networks using active radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

                As a PanGo Certified Solutions Partner, Eclipsys will re-sell, deploy and support PanGo’s asset-tracking solution, which enables hospital staff to track hundreds of mobile biomedical assets, from wheelchairs to IV pumps to telemetry equipment, instantly identifying available resources and routing them to where they’re needed most. In addition, the biomedical engineering department can quickly locate specific equipment for routine equipment maintenance, supporting compliance with Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) regulations.
                PanGo’s location management solution includes an intuitive end-user application for asset monitoring and reporting, true Wi-Fi active-RFID tags and a location management platform that integrates location data into third-party and custom healthcare and business applications. PanGo Locator leverages any Wi-Fi access point infrastructure as its reader network, eliminating the need for a separate overlay of proprietary hardware and wiring. 

InnerWireless, Inc., unveiled Spot, its RF (radio frequency) location system at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego.

                Spot provides hospitals with a reliable and cost-effective solution to locate valuable medical equipment and quickly match these items with patients and clinicians who need them. Spot can be rapidly deployed because no data or power cables are pulled when installing the system – making installation simple, fast and scalable, and minimizing infection control issues. Both tags and RF infrastructure are optimized using the 802.15.4 wireless communications standard, thus avoiding the IP address proliferation caused by piggybacking on a hospital’s existing 802.11 wireless data networks. Spot’s open 802.15.4 standard has no impact on a hospital’s 802.11 network, and it is fully compatible with InnerWireless’ core product, the Medical-grade Wireless Utility. Spot is positioned to cost less than 802.11 tracking systems to ease entry for hospitals. Additionally, the Spot RF “beacons” that allow the RFLS tags to be tracked are easy to mount, wireless and do not require hard-wiring – much like a home’s smoke detector. Both the tags and beacons communicate through two master radios per floor. Spot is slated for general availability in August 2006.

Meru Networks unveiled Meru Security Services Module at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego.     
                Meru Security Services Modules is a wireless security solution that protects wireless networks at the Radio Frequency (RF) signal level. The software module works in combination with Meru's wireless LAN product portfolio and brings advanced security for wireless LANs delivering mission-critical applications. The Meru Security Services Module includes Meru's AirShield Technology and uses advanced micro-scanning, radio scrambling and transmission jamming techniques to ensure military-grade, radio frequency security for any enterprise. In addition, Meru's Security Services Module conducts its scanning without disrupting network services. The Meru Security Services Module functions as part of Meru's System Director operating system and is installed on the Meru WLAN System's Controller.  The Module can be used in conjunction with Meru Access Points or Meru Radio Switches.

Raintree Systems Inc. showed its dash board product at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego.
                The Raintree dash board provides a convenient, centralized area that automatically navigates an end-user to different program areas while performing daily tasks. Raintree has designed dash boards for clerical staff members, clinical personnel and providers. A dash board automatically navigates users to program areas, automatically displays a list of Follow-up To Do items, automatically opens an Assessment Record for each scheduled patient, automatically lists current medications and other diagnostic tests, automatically updates demographics, intake information and patient alerts and automatically lists patients ready to be seen. The system also creates a chart note and supports electronic signatures.

SpectraLink highlighted its acquisition of KIRK telecom and showed a new Wi-Fi handset at HIMSS06 last week in San Diego.
                The $61.3 million acquisition will significantly increase SpectraLink's international reach by augmenting its distribution channels and geographical market penetration. The combination of the two companies expands SpectraLink's product portfolio to include a complete product portfolio that incorporates all major enterprise wireless voice technologies (Wi-Fi, DECT and proprietary systems).
                DECT is a widely adopted technology in both Europe and Asia-Pacific. There is now significant opportunity for growth in North America as a result of regulatory changes made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year facilitating the sale of DECT products in the U.S. market, SpectraLink said. Through the additional distribution channels gained in the acquisition, SpectraLink will continue to drive workplace Wi-Fi adoption by making its NetLink Wireless Telephones available to more enterprise customers across Europe and Asia. The acquisition will lead to new products to meet evolving market needs later this year, said Alex Cioth, vice president. Cioth indicated that new devices could transcend voice and support data applications and integrate into systems such as nurse call or e-mail.
                The new small, light full-featured Wi-Fi handset is designed for healthcare applications and provides enhanced durability, advanced calling features and integration with hospital communication systems. It offers high-quality mobile voice communication with the privacy and capabilities of wired telephone sets. In addition, SpectraLink’s Open Application Interface (OAI) supports text messaging and voice integration with nurse call, patient monitoring and other hospital systems. The new healthcare handset uses Wi-Fi wireless LAN technology, allowing converged voice and data applications over a single wireless infrastructure.