Costs down, quality up: A hospital goes wireless


"Medication errors can mean the wrong med going to the wrong patient, the right med at the wrong dosage -- there are a lot of permutations," Christiano said.

The next step was to figure out what type of network was needed, he said.

"We turned this into a large process model before we even looked into the [networking] technology," Christiano said. In other words, the hospital first looked closely at its processes, then designed wireless capabilities to match those processes.

For instance, the primary way of communicating with doctors who were making their rounds was via cell phone, although some doctors still used pagers. Employees, however, could more efficiently use a wireless 802.11 network, Christiano noted. The network had to handle all those types of wireless technologies.

"Next, I asked what happens when you have a medication that doesn't work for the patient," Christiano said. "Say the computer system says don't give this medication to this patient. Where would [a nurse] go to make a call? Probably back to the nurses' system. So we looked at wireless voice technology that worked more quickly."