Spacelabs is adopting 802.11b for the SL 2400 patient monitor. Here's the breathless intro to the announcement:
commitment to open standards and connectivity, Spacelabs has developed
an innovative wireless solution that is capable of operating on a
hospitals existing wireless infrastructure while coexisting with other
To their credit, there will also be a field upgrade kit coming for existing SL 2400 compact monitors. They're targeting the wireless option for use during patient transport.
Poking around on their site, I came across this additional information:
- Utilizes an industry-standard 802.11b IEEE compliant radio card – for everyone's sake, I hope they validated to a Wi-Fi standard rather than the specific card, otherwise they'll be 1) validating a new card every 6 to 18 months, or 2) selling a discontinued and obsolete card in 6 to 18 months.
- Designed to operate on existing wireless infrastructures that support
802.11b, thereby maximizing existing wireless infrastructure while
managing additional costs – exactly how they do this is not described. Let's hope they don't require anything crazy like a hospital-wide VLAN dedicated to the SL 2400 – a VLAN for medical devices does make sense. A specialized site survey, minimum AP density and possibly redundant APs could be required.
- Standard WEP40 and WEP128 security and encryption to help hospitals protect patient information – bummer. In the network security world, the consensus is that WEP does not provide adequate security. Tools readily available on the Internet can be used to crack WEP in just a day or two. WEP uses the same encryption key indefinitely by all clients. Current WLAN security practice is to use dynamic keys that are renewed on a preconfigured time period. Industry standard alternatives to WEP include TKIP, AES, 802.1x authentication, and 802.11i. (Here's the original paper from some geeks at UC Berkeley that was the beginning of the end of WEP.)
I hope to learn a lot more about this and the GE Dash at HIMSS.
An mysterious story from Associated Press, pick up by a number of major newspapers, new research is announced on ambulance diversions and overcrowded emergency departments. The study's lead author, Catharine Burt, of the National Center for Health Statistics, used data from 405 U.S. hospital emergency departments – about 10 percent of the nation's hospital ERs. This Modern Healthcare story has some additional data.
Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that
hospital emergency departments diverted ambulances when they were
overcrowded, citing a lack of appropriate inpatient beds (51%), a high
number of emergency department visits (50%), and complexity of
emergency department cases (18%).
A separate study by UCLA researchers, published with the CDC's findings online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that ambulance diversions at Los Angeles County hospitals more than tripled between 1998 and 2004.
Sorry, no links to the actual paper – allegedly in the Annals of Emergency Medicine – there's nothing about the paper on their site.
Neil Versel writes for Health-IT World on recent and future merger and acquisition in the health care IT market. The consensus: there will be more. The story is wrapped around Misys' acquisition of Payerpath, and provides a nice summary of recent deals.
This deal followed by less than two weeks the news that ambulatory EHR vendor Allscripts would acquire smaller competitor A4 Health Systems of Cary, N.C., for $272 million in cash and stock. Allscripts also announced that it would modify its partnership with IDX Systems in light of the fact that IDX recently was taken over by GE Healthcare.
A4 gives Allscripts a ready practice management and EHR product for small and mid-size group practices. Allscripts' TouchWorks already is adaptable for the smaller end of the market, but the Chicago-based company has been concentrating on the more lucrative large-group segment and on the ambulatory side of many academic health centers.
GE says it will honor the five years remaining on the 2001 alliance between Allscripts and IDX for the two companies to sell their products to each other's existing customers. Now, with A4 in the fold, Allscripts will be allowed to offer an integrated ambulatory EHR/practice management package to customers of IDX hospital systems.