As a foundation member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Pixel Health team recently hosted a focus group with digital health leaders at the CHIME23 Fall Forum. They were also joined by Heather Nelson, SVP & CIO at Boston Children’s Hospital, who shared her experience with implementing a hybrid 5G cellular network in healthcare. We’ve provided a high-level recap here to share our lessons learned.
Recognizing the inherent challenges of supporting clinical mobility
In the focus group, the Pixel Health team started by asking different organizations about their current challenges with wireless technologies to support both remote medicine and clinical communication. With that knowledge, the team then presented their findings on the differences between 5G and Wi-Fi technologies and how they’ve worked to support the growing demands of clinical mobility.
Challenge 1: Improving wireless network connectivity
The Pixel Health team started by asking attendees to share how they are handling clinical communications and addressing increasing demands for remote medicine capabilities.
“We learned there are many misconceptions about the use of cellular compared to Wi-Fi to support connectivity,” said Michael Feld, Chief Executive Officer of Pixel Health. “We used this focus group to listen to the audiences’ understanding and then explained how traditional Wi-Fi deployments have limited tolerance for latency, bandwidth, and other network problems to meet demands in today’s infrastructure.”
“It’s important to note that Wi-Fi is still a very appropriate wireless technology for many non-mobile use cases within hospital operations,” added Michael. “But 5G offers more widescale device mobility and eliminates the constraints around latency and related network elements.”
Challenge 2: Addressing funding
Cost constraints represent an ongoing challenge when it comes to advancing IT in healthcare—and paying for private cellular was a topic of conversation at the focus group.
Heather Nelson, SVP & CIO at Boston Children’s Hospital shared how Pixel Health has a unique formula for addressing this. First by performing an assessment of the current costs and then determining which costs could be consolidated or streamlined the team came up with a financial solution to support the hybrid 5G design.
“Our team started by understanding the mission of the hospital relative to remote medicine, and clinical communications,” explained Michael. “This assessment included research information, and collectivization of data to justify the change. We looked at how those roles are intertwined and essential for the future of Boston Children’s Hospital.”
Challenge 3: Balancing an organization’s mission alongside financial pressures
As part of the open dialogue in the focus group, one attendee asked an important question on how the deployment of a hospital wireless infrastructure could be justified while aligning with an organization’s mission, rather than relying on a purely financial justification.
Heather shared that in order to deliver excellence in clinical operations at Boston Children’s Hospital, their services needed to be matched in excellence with their IT department. This investment resulted in enabling greater mobility, simplifying IT operations, containing costs, and enhancing security for communications.
“Not only are we implementing a new enterprise EHR—but we are also implementing a new Clinical Mobility platform,” she said. “That was our biggest use case for leveraging 5G to be honest. The EHR is just the icing on the cake,” said Heather.
Looking ahead to the future of a hospital wireless infrastructure
As the Pixel Health team continues to support clinical workflows and seamless communication both within and outside of a hospital environment, they will share the results of their 5G deployment. The team will also publish educational resources on how a hybrid 5G network can scale with an organization’s current and future strategic objectives.