Connectivity is part and parcel of our daily lives. Be it communicating, researching or keeping abreast of worldwide news, Internet access has become a 'must-have' and hospitals are no different in this regard.

Mediclinic now offers free Wi-Fi access to its patients, a service that came into being late last year. ‘We wanted to provide optimal internet access for our doctors and patients,’ says Deon Myburgh, Manager of ICT Operations at Mediclinic. ‘With demand for Wi-Fi becoming greater, a decision was made to implement Wi-Fi in all our hospitals in 2012.’

Local internet fibre was installed at Mediclinic hospitals nationwide late that year. Initially running as a paid service to patients via its corporate network. Bandwidth costs back then prevented Mediclinic from offering a free internet facility, something which Myburgh explains was a critical limitation that required a solution. ‘Asking patients to pay for internet was also deviating from worldwide trends.

Fortunately costs gradually came down as various bandwidth options increased, so our strategy had to evolve. While we wanted to own our airspace, we also wanted to enhance the hospital experience. So a strategic decision was made to provide free Wi-Fi to our patients, guests and doctors from October 2016 onward.’

A user-friendly login platform has since replaced the previous payment gateway. Patients and visitors simply provide their email address and mobile number when entering a Mediclinic facility to access this service. And whilst this option has received favourable reviews, Myburgh also points out that the stability and reliability of fibre connectivity meets the demands of patients, guests and doctors. ‘We have around 5 000 guests and 2 000 doctors accessing our respective Wi-Fi networks at any given time,’ he says. ‘A hospital requires a stable system. For example, doctors access various clinical information sources, such as radiology images and pathology results. Easy and secure access to this kind of information supports patient safety and quality care.’

Opportunities have arisen to connect mobile medical devices to our Wi-Fi network, such as mobile patient monitors, mobile C-arms, as well as enabling time synchronisation of clocks within all Mediclinic facilities.

Multiple Wi-Fi networks enable secure networks for medical devices seperate from the the public Wi-Fi networks. More importantly though is customer satisfaction, or an optimal patient experience, as Myburgh puts it. ‘What we are now finding is that patients are bringing their own portable devices to keep themselves entertained.

Patients are able to communicate with family and friends better than ever before, using platforms like Skype, WhatsApp and other social media platforms which are now readily available through our free Wi-Fi facility.’

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.