Reasons for providing Free Wi-Fi:
For patients: Wi-Fi allows inpatients to keep in touch with friends and family, and gives them far more choice in how to spend any periods of recovery. It allows “virtual visiting” by far-flung relatives over applications like Skype. It can even let those who wish to check in at work to keep in touch and update their situation. It also allows outpatients to spend their time more usefully while waiting for a clinic appointment, hopefully making happier waiting areas. Where specialities are adopting/promoting internet based healthcare applications, it allows them to be used by their patients during visits.
For staff: Increasingly, staff (clinical and non-clinical) are bringing their own devices to work in order to use modern tools that are unavailable on the Trust network. These are colleagues who wish to access services that better help them perform their role. Currently, they must use their own resources to do this. Free Wi-Fi would enable them to do more and do it better. Finally, free Wi-Fi will enable all staff to be more connected to each other, to other professionals in the NHS and to our patients.
Security: Concerns are often raised, rightly, about the security of information if the Trust provided free internet access to staff, patients and their friends & families. This is only a concern if we use our existing workspace network. These concerns are easily answered by setting up an independent network for the purpose.
Innovation: At least 20 Hospitals across the UK are already offering free Wi-Fi to their patients & staff. I believe that Guy’s and St Thomas’ should be at the forefront of this movement, leading by example and so improving the Hospital experience for all.
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