Exeter Hospital gets WiFi right

I recently spent a long day waiting for and visiting with someone who had surgery at the Exeter Hospital in Exeter, NH. It’s a wonderful facility that’s got all sorts of things right: pleasant decor, free valet parking, an excellent and inexpensive cafeteria. But for me, it was the public WiFi that made my day. Everywhere I flipped open my laptop — in a physician’s office, in a surgical waiting room, in a patient’s room — there was always a strong signal, and it always Just Worked.

If any of the IT staff at Exeter Hospital are within earshot of this blog: Thanks! That made a huge difference for me. Twelve hours of disconnectedness would have compounded the stress of being there. Instead I had twelve hours of connectedness, I got a lot done while waiting, and was spared the tyranny of Fox News.

Of course I realize, as you folks do, that providing that experience for me is more than a courtesy. It’s a smart business decision. If I had to choose between hospitals, and if yours were only an hour away instead of two, your robust WiFi setup — as opposed to the always-spotty and now apparently nonexistent setup at my local hospital — would weigh heavily in the decision. I notice that you don’t advertise your WiFi capability. You probably should!

20 Comments

  1. Are you sure they intended to provide public WiFi? Or is it possible that the hospital’s business/clinic WiFi was just not secured? The existence of HIPAA would lead me to believe the former. The ubiquity of the network leads me to believe the latter.

  2. If they advertised, I can see the scene now: An internet addict arriving at the hospital complaining of WiFitis and logging on to get their fix. Then another, and another…. Soon they have an epidemic when the hacking coughers arrive covering their WiMarks as they pilfer private information and peoples identities.
    Twelve hours is a long time to give them. :)

    I hope all went well. Personally, I always try to keep my digital media player charged and loaded with fresh podcasts for moments like that.

  3. “Then another, and another…”

    True. I had the same thought about the cafeteria, actually. It was really good and really cheap. If I lived anywhere near there I’d be tempted to drop in regularly!

  4. We offer our patients the same thing here at DeKalb Medical. Shameless plug, I know. But we make sure to separate our open wireless network from our production network and crack down on rogue hotspots that are occasionally set up by interns, vendors, private practice offices, etc. It has gotten a great response from our patients, their families and friends. We see it as a great opportunity to allow our patients to feel a little more comfortable here, whether they’re here for an outpatient treatment or are going to spend some time recovering. It’s good to see that others are offering the same things — and doing them right!

  5. “Yes. The access point was clearly labeled EHGuest.”

    Wow — that is really amazing. And judging from Beau’s comment, it isn’t unprecedented, either. There is a new hospital being built about a mile from my house; I wonder if they, too, will offer patients and guests open wireless access? Maybe it is time to put in a plug for it before they get the drywall up…

  6. You know, there’s another benefit I forgot to mention. In doubly-occupied rooms like the one we were in, there’s a lot of phone chatter reporting status back to friends and family, and that can be really disruptive. In my case I was able to silently email those status reports without bothering the roommate. Now if only the roommate had returned the favor :-)

  7. I’ll be the dissenting voice here… I personally don’t think an hospital is the right place to have lots of radiation-emitting tools, even if they are considered relatively safe. You can’t have cellphones, but wifi is right…why?

    I wonder how they manage with scan equipment, and if the cancer statistics will eventually experience a significant shift.

  8. It seems to me that the important thing at a hospital would be the doctor patient relationship.

    Personally, I have a Verizon EVDO card and mostly travel between EVDO cities so it works fairly well. Even outside the 60+ metro EVDO areas it works where ever there’s a digital signal, but only at dial up speeds. On a road trip it’s great to be online while someone else is driving.

  9. For those concerned “WiFi” is a low-power usage within the The industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. To be sold & operated in the USA all such devices must be FCC certified not to interfere. Thus WiFi devices have little risk of interfering with other more critical hospital operations.

    Indeed the microwave at the other end of the ward likely puts out more interference in the ISM bands then any WiFi device.

    On the other hand cell phones are not necessarily “low power” (at need some models can transmit rather more) and operate in an entirely different, and far more penetrating, set of frequencies. Thus there is a slight possibility that in some situations some types of cellphones could interfere with hospital operations. Therefore their use is discouraged or in specific forbidden.

    Simply put, WiFi signal aren’t comparable to cellphone usage beyond their both being intentional transmitters. WiFi is assured not to interfere (and hospitals would shut it off immediately at any possibility of interference) but cellphones are not assured and therefore their use is locally regulated.

    As to either radiation being harmful there has not been a single reputable study supporting such a concern, nor any biophysical model showing how any damage could be done.

    While caution is always admirable facts are what decisions are made on, and there are no facts justifying medical concern regarding cellphones or WiFi. They’re not magical unknowns, just relatively new applications of frequencies & techniques that have been studied and applied for generations.

    Frankly enabling patients and their families to ‘go online’ has been a huge boon, for many of the same reasons going online is popular at home. Access to information, entertainment, and possibly most importantly, communication.

    I’ve someone in hospital with a terminal prognosis right now. Even dying they still have banking to do, news to follow, and yes, emails to read. Indeed between room-changing, medication schedules, and wavering energy levels email is right now their preferred means of communication (including “call me at 2pm, room 410”).

  10. Pingback: Hospital WiFi
  11. Exeter Hospital has been a great experience for the wife and I so far. We have been dealing with the family center and all nurses and doctors are extremely nice and great people. The birthing rooms are set up with WiFi and are estremely accomdating for the Dad’s too. Not to mention all of the free courses and seminars they offer parents to be, very insightful. And the food is an added bonus…tasty and cheap. Ever since we have found this hidden gem I stop by for lunch during work, since it is five miles away. But overall a great hospital that really seems to care.

  12. Hmmm — interesting choice of wording in this latest comment to try to insert a spammy link (biz . prlog . org / atlantaeventsparking) into your blog. WordPress is marking links with a rel=nofollow, but people try anyway.

  13. Yeah, there’s been a lot of this language lately. Quite clever bit of social engineering, actually. Unfortunately, if the filters learn to reject it, a channel for useful feedback will be closed.

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