Using wireless technologies in healthcare

Abstract: With an increasingly mobile society and the worldwide deployment
of mobile and wireless networks, wireless infrastructure can support many
current and emerging healthcare applications. However, before wireless
infrastructure can be used in a wide scale, there are several challenges that must
be overcome. These include how to best utilise the capabilities of diverse
wireless technologies and how to effectively manage the complexity of wireless
and mobile networks in healthcare applications. In this paper, we discuss
how wireless technologies can be applied in the healthcare environment.
Additionally, some open issues and challenges are also discussed.

Keywords: mobile and wireless networks; location management; intelligent
emergency system; patient monitoring; telemedicine; healthcare applications;
ad hoc wireless networks.


The introduction of telecommunications technologies in the healthcare environment has
led to an increased accessibility to healthcare providers, more efficient tasks and
processes and higher quality of healthcare services (Kern and Jaron, 2003; Wells, 2003;
Lin, 1999; Zhang et al., 2000; Lee et al., 2000; Holle and Zahlmann, 1999). However,
many challenges, including a significant number of medical errors (To err is human:
building a safer health system, 2000; Hayward and Hofer, 2001) considerable stress on
healthcare providers and partial coverage of healthcare services in rural and underserved
areas, still exist worldwide (Singh, 2002; Parsloe, 2003). These challenges combined
with an increasing cost of healthcare services, such as the cost of healthcare services
reaching to 15% of the US Gross National Product (Kern and Jaron, 2003) and the
exponential increase in the number of seniors and retirees in developed countries (Forum,
2005) have created several major challenges for policy makers, healthcare providers,
hospitals, insurance companies...