Free Wi-Fi is to be provided in all NHS buildings in England in a bid to improve services and reduce costs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
Cash is being made available from a £1 billion technology fund to improve a patchy service. The move was a key recommendation of a Government commissioned report by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox on improving the use of online technology in the health service. At present some hospitals charge for Wi-Fi and others have no access at all.
The government has set no deadline for the plans but expects the NHS to be “digital and paperless” by 2020.
Officials believe it will also encourage the use of technologies that could massively cut paperwork and errors, and help alert doctors and nurses to medical problems.
Mobile clinical systems and tablets have already replaced paper charts in some hospitals, allowing potentially problematic changes in vital signs to be more quickly spotted and acted on, and for data to be shared around the building.
The Department of Health said greater use of e-prescribing could reduce medication errors by 50%.
Patients could also wear monitors to alert medical staff to issues, helping for example the more than a fifth of diabetics said to have experienced a “largely avoidable” hypoglycemic episode while in the hospital.
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Mr Hunt said:
“Everyone using the NHS expects it to be a world leader in digital healthcare and free wifi is an essential part of making that a reality.
“It will give patients and staff the ability to access the services they need as well as freeing up clinical time and reducing overall costs.”
The Department of Health was unable to say what proportion of NHS facilities already provide free Wi-Fi.Source: The Guardian