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Keeping Healthcare Providers Connected with Prioritized Access for Critical Communications

By Alan Curran, FirstNet Solutions Manager, ATTFirstNet

Digital Exclusive - January 2022
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Healthcare providers – the doctors, nurses, and support staff on the frontlines in our hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities – need connectivity they can count on. No matter the situation. And they demand solutions that can help them provide better care.

Much like first responders, hospitals need to be able to respond quickly to large scale disasters, such as storms and hurricanes; public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic; and everyday community health needs, such as general acute care services and preventative healthcare.

And they need to equip their medical personnel with solutions that allow them to:

  • Quickly access patients’ electronic health records, without having to compete with other traffic on the network

  • Access high resolution images and video to assist doctors in near real time

  • Communicate with first responders to better prepare for patient care upon arrival

  • Track relief personnel and emergency vehicles

  • Get highly secure connections and technical support 24/7/365 

 

With the growing use of telehealth, healthcare workers need reliable, prioritized connectivity. This allows them to communicate with first responders in transit, so they can prepare for patients arriving in the emergency room. And they need access to the tools that allow them to monitor patients remotely.

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Coordinating Assets, Communication

For example, a small hospital with a small in-house staff could be overwhelmed with two patients – and maybe even one who's severely injured. The same could be true for a large hospital that suddenly gets 100 patients.

Communication within the hospital is just as critical as communication in the community. Preparing for patients who may be seriously injured and need immediate care can only happen when healthcare workers can communicate internally and with physicians working in their offices away from the hospital.

And healthcare providers need to be able to communicate to get the right people and resources in place to help save lives and reduce injury.

 

Lifesaving Involves Many Groups

When dealing with a major emergency – like an automobile accident with multiple injuries – you may need team members from cardiac care, vascular care, surgical care and respiratory care, just to name a few.

So you need a system that’s going to allow for coordination and give you the prioritized connectivity you need. Here are 10 ways a critical communications system can be the difference when seconds matter:

  1. Virtual care solutions: Consider a network that prioritizes telemedicine and remote patient monitoring, which improves your customer experience and can help you spot health problems before they become too serious. 

  2. Health records and apps: Having priority access to a wireless network means ultra-fast access to a patient’s Electronic Medical Records (EMR) stored in the cloud. 

  3. Emergency fleet: Adding a dedicated wireless modem to your hospital and ambulatory fleet can help you avoid competing with commercial data traffic when you need to share critical information with trauma centers. 

  4. Clinicians: Having priority to the wireless network means that even when patients are watching their phones while they wait, you can reach the department or person you need. 

  5. Rapid deployment kits: These pre-charged smartphones are tied to the network so even if the power goes out, your hospital or mobile emergency unit will still be connected. 

  6. Communications: Push-to-Talk allows interoperability between land mobile radio (LMR) devices in addition to group calling all with priority access on the network. 

  7. Red Phones: Dedicated devices can replace or back up emergency Red Phones. 

  8. Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): Within the Internet of Medical Things, a variety of objects can be turned into smart devices to enhance patient care. For example, those objects can include heart monitors, medications, and wheelchairs. A critical communications network helps ensure that the connection between those devices and the cellular network are prioritized. 

  9. Private Branch Exchange: Private Branch Exchange is a private telephone network used within an organization. Special programs can extend that network access to smartphones. 

  10. Emergency backups: Hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms can’t afford even brief system outages. Wireless backup means doctors have access to key communications, applications, and systems when they need it. 

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What is FirstNet?

FirstNet grew out of a 9/11 Commission report that called for improved communications for U.S. first responders. On 9/11, many emergency response teams had trouble communicating with each other. So, Congress established the First Responder Network Authority and charged it with creating a nationwide broadband network for America’s public safety community. The First Responder Network Authority contracted with AT&T to deliver this innovative communications platform to public safety.

Ready to learn more? Contact FirstNet Customer Service at 1-800-574-7000 or visit https://www.firstnet.com/industry-solutions/healthcare.html.