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Why Wi-Fi in hospitals could be the best medicine

In a bid for a digital healthcare system, the NHS is undertaking digital transformation on an enormous scale. Central to this will be the implementation of free access to wireless Internet across the entire NHS estate by 2019. This will be made possible as they work with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), hospital trusts and the Wi-Fi industry to put in place a Wi-Fi infrastructure across primary and secondary care settings. 

The digitisation of the NHS is a three-phase project, with phase 1 already underway. The first stage commenced earlier in 2017, as Wi-Fi was installed in 991 GP practices across England. The project aimed to get all GP practices throughout the country set up with free Wi-Fi by the end of 2017, with hospitals and secondary care to follow in 2018 and completed by 2019. 

The announcement of free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings in England is driven by the government’s commitment to a paperless health service by 2020, and their overarching vision to improve patient care services and satisfaction.

The fundamental driver for the roll out of NHS Wi-Fi is to allow all those who receive care to be better connected across the NHS, and to support professionals of the NHS to deliver improved outcomes. To achieve this, NHS Wi-Fi hopes to reduce costs for health and care services, improve patient experience and satisfaction, and improve access to information for health and care professionals. 

The vision for the NHS technological revolution is to transform the way people experience the NHS, by exceeding expectations and improving patient satisfactions. This will be carried out by designing digital health tools and services that connect them to the information and services they need, when they need them.

Evidence of how Wi-Fi is supporting patients can already be witnessed in GPs across the country. It has already improved engagement of patients internally at practices, through means such as updating contact details via electronic devices rather than paper forms, allowing patients to book appointments using their digital devices, ordering repeat prescriptions online, and downloading promoted health apps and looking up health information more easily. 

In sites across the UK where there is little phone signal, the implementation of free Wi-Fi has fashioned this benefit. It has also allowed for the NHS to promote health initiatives while patients wait, and has allowed for flexible and remote working by doctors who can access their online services all over the GP using their laptop rather than just one room. 

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