Integrated mobile service solutions for hospitals
// Digital Transformation, IT Quality Improvement, IT Technology Consulting
Innovative communications concepts must fulfil steep requirements
Communication in large hospitals takes place through innumerable channels. In addition to the already highly complex issue of data communications, this does also and still affect the classic area of telephony. The use of mobile end devices is a matter of course in day-to-day hospital business, but here is where problems and challenges occur that are owed to the special hospital situation and that require special solutions. Extraordinarily heterogeneous systems as well as radiation-sensitive areas on the hospital grounds are just two of the numerous topics that an integrated solution must take into consideration.
A mobile telephone network must ensure the use of the corresponding mobile end devices for the most diverse functions. This ranges from verbal communications, via the faster data connection to the internal systems, the networking with the emergency teams in the ambulance, the alerting in case of emergencies and problems, all the way to the tracking of devices and people.
Strategy of converging networks for data traffic and telephony
In 2013, noventum did – jointly with the responsible parties of a university hospital and with the data centre of the university – work out a strategy for converging the existing information and IT networks, and presented it to the board of the university hospital. This dealt with a long-term planning which was intended to reduce the diverse communications networks onto as few technologies as possible. Furthermore, the peculiarities of a maximum care hospital and of research and teaching had to be taken into consideration. The vastness of the campus with more than 70 different buildings was among the challenging framework data.
A central component of the network strategy was the full coverage of the buildings and of the campus with mobile radio telephone service from GSM technology all the way to state-of-the-art LTE technology. In this, the focus was not on replacing conventional telephony, but rather on implementing the comprehensive IP telephony strategy of the university by creating complete redundancy via a second medium. This way, the hospital remains operational even if the IP networks fail.
Redundant systems ensure secure working even in case of technical crises
An example illustrates what this is about: during a surgery, samples are analysed in an emergency laboratory and the results are passed on to the surgeon immediately so that he can plan his further approach. If the network is disrupted, the most important results are currently reported by phone directly to the OR. A complete conversion of the telephony to IP would make this impossible. Therefore, the conversion can only take place if a backup technology is available. With mobile radio telephone service and mobile data transfer, an opportunity has been created to make the complete analysis available to the surgeon even in case of a failure of the IP network. In this, it is important that not only a redundancy in wiring and in the active components is performed, but that there also are redundant paths to send the data to the mobile phone operator. For this, a radio relay link and an IP glass fibre are planned.
At present, doctors and nursing staff carry up to 3 devices with them, a DECT telephone, a pager, and – where applicable – a mobile phone. An initial objective is to replace the existing DECT infrastructure and the pager with mobile phones or smart phones, which may also be used privately. The challenge that was posed to mobile radio telephone service operators was to integrate the mobile phones into the hospital communications infrastructure such that the service characteristics of the DECT telephones could be retained for the most part. This does, in particular, mean that landline telephones in the hospital and also the mobile phone must be reachable via a 5-digit quick dial. In addition, it necessitates that a fixed phone number (e.g. the operator) can be indicated to the recipient of the call. It must be possible to completely encrypt the communication and, and, and...
4-sector antennas for precise directing of radio traffic
The „illumination" of the campus also posed enormous challenges to the mobile radio telephone service operators. It had to be ensured, for instance, that research facilities such as the neurophysiology department or also the biophysics department, whose research mission may be put at risk by interferences that may occur, are located in a blind spot. Through one of the first 4-sector antennas in Germany and a corresponding alignment of the sectors, this was taken into consideration.
Jointly with the responsible parties of the hospital, noventum prepared the public invitation to bid. After its conclusion, meetings with bidders, and the board‘s decision, Vodafone was awarded the contract to completely „illuminate" the buildings and the campus. By erecting a mobile radio telephone service tower, Vodafone did - for the most part - achieve an „illumination" of the campus and of a large number of the existing buildings. This measure alone did already significantly improve the provision of mobile radio telephone service coverage. The next step now is the indoor expansion of coverage of the areas not yet covered.
noventum is supporting this project from strategy, via planning of the invitation to bid, all the way to the implementation of the first steps. We have achieved our objective to take on responsibility for the implementation up to a handover as planned, too, in this exciting Project.