Sean Loughlin: Big Lesson Comes from Minor Glitch

Sometimes a glitch in your routine can give you new insight into the far more serious challenges that other professionals wrestle with every day. Let me explain.

At AAMI headquarters, we have a large conference room, equipped with roughly 25 wireless microphones, where various committees, working groups, and visitors discuss important issues related to healthcare technology. We also use that room for our monthly staff meetings. At our most recent meeting, those microphones didn’t work. Why? “The issue was caused by our new Wi-Fi system that was installed last week,” explained Jake Stratton, AAMI’s IT director. The system was reconfigured “to use a different frequency and this solved the issue.”

Marilyn Neder Flack, AAMI’s senior vice president of patient safety initiatives, pointed out in a quick e-mail to staff that our glitch is similar—although on a much smaller scale—to what hospitals encounter when they add new medical devices to their wireless systems. “Magnify this problem by about 100 times and then factor in the patient safety considerations that are part of just every decision in hospitals, and you have an idea of what healthcare facilities are wrestling with,” Flack noted.

At AAMI, the staffers are not the subject matter experts. It’s our members who are on the frontlines, who know the ins and outs of healthcare technology. Our glitch served as an important reminder of one of the tough issues they confront: adjusting to a world that’s increasingly wireless.

When it comes to that wireless challenge, we have a number of resources intended to help our members navigate the terrain. Chief among these resources is the complimentary FAQs for the Wireless Challenge in Healthcare. Additionally, we have an entire “hot topics” webpage devoted to sharing articles, guidance documents, and reports about wireless technology.

We hope you find these resources useful.

Sean Loughlin is AAMI’s senior director of communications.

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