Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, has said that free Wi-Fi will be provided in England’s NHS facilities in an attempt to reduce costs and improve services.
This will enable patients to use their smart phones and tablets to go online to keep in touch with their family and friends or watch on-demand TV shows.
Currently, some hospitals charge to use Wi-Fi, whereas others don’t have access at all. The Department of Health was not able to say what proportion of NHS buildings already provide free Wi-Fi.
No deadline has been set for these plans, but the governments expects the NHS to be ‘digital and paperless’ by 2020.
This move was suggested by a government-commissioned report about enhancing the use of online technology in the health sector and money is being provided by a technology fund worth £1 billion.
According to Mr Hunt, Wi-Fi is an important part of making the NHS a world leader in digital healthcare. He said it will enable both staff and patients to access the services they need, whilst saving clinical time and reducing costs.
Paper charts have already been replaced in some hospitals by mobile clinical systems and tablets. This allows for information to easily be shared across the building. The Department of Health have said increased use of e-prescribing could lower medication errors by half.
The Department of Health also believes the plans will encourage technology use that could help to alert nurses and doctors to medical problems as well as reducing errors and paperwork.