There was some discussion recently on the Biomed Listserv from some folks at hospitals considering making wireless Internet access available to patients. So, today's iHealthBeat story about some hospitals in Akron offering this service caught my eye.

To alleviate security concerns, the hospital opted to use a separate
Internet feed it had available for public access, she said. Only
authorized staff can get through two firewalls to access the highly
secure Internet line containing patient information.

At WRH Health System, only staff who have a special encryption
loaded onto their laptops or personal data assistants (pdas) can access
the encrypted wireless network that contains patient records, Sauer
said.

“We do not broadcast it,'' he said. “You would not see the private network.''

Both hospitals also use filters to block inappropriate sites.

The American Hospital Association doesn't track the number of health
care facilities that offer wireless Internet access to patients. But a
spokeswoman said the association has heard from members that this is a
growing trend.

You can see past stories on this trend here, and here. Vendors like Bluesocket provide network appliances to provide what's called “guest access.”

UPDATE: In a comment below, reader John recommends vendor Perfigo for network admission control, since acquired by Cisco.