Case study: Columbus sails on wireless apps

Once Columbus Children’s Hospital rolled out its mobile access project, demand from end users accelerated its deployment. The initial roll out of 130 users was followed up with another 170 in the first year. In the next 18 months, that number will likely double again to 600 users.

“At first, word got out slowly, and that took us through the first six months,” says Schon Crouse, mobility support analyst at the hospital. “But then people started hearing about what others were doing, and people began coming to us more and more.”

The hospital had to develop guidelines for the job descriptions that would have mobile access—primarily those dealing with visiting patients or in groups including transport, which is on the road constantly. “We’ve had to tell some managers that we need justification,” he says. “That slows them down a little bit.”

At Columbus Children’s Hospital, the mobile effort has been about providing better patient care. Some 300 people in 14 different groups are using mobile devices for everything from keeping tabs on the physician residents to pushing information to different constituencies. “What’s great is I can create an image for each group, with specific needs for software, and I can push this image out to the users in each group,” Crouse explains.

The basic idea behind much of this is to push out information in mobile form. This includes a book of drug formulations and interactions, specially created for Children’s Hospital and updated every three months. Users have the ability to print via an infrared port off the PalmPilot.

Another application is a medical calculator which determines things like drip rates for various medicines given intravenously.

In addition to making more people productive, Crouse says his Extended Systems software helps him be more proactive. “It runs a report anytime someone syncs, and if the person is having trouble, I can see what the error is and shoot the user an e-mail to help solve the problem.” Say, for instance, the password on the PC changes, which it does every three months, Crouse can remind users to update their passwords even before they run into access problems.

Client devices used at Children’s include PalmPCs, Pocket PCs and Smart Palms with integrated phones.

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About the Author

Johanna Ambrosio is a freelance writer based in Marlborough, Mass., specializing in technology and business. Contact her at [email protected].