Importance of wired / wireless infrastructure in clinical settings – from building construction to management –

Eisuke Hanada

Along with their widespread introduction into a variety of medical settings, ICT systems present a number of challenges. Hospital information systems (HIS) have been used for decades, and most current HIS servers and terminals communicate through wired / wireless LANs. In Japan, wireless medical telemetry systems that also communicate through cable and wireless systems are widely used. The introduction of IoT systems is progressing quickly. Understandably, there are problems associated with the installation of networks in hospitals that must be addressed, both with new construction and when older hospital buildings are remodeled.
Examples include careful planning of the cabling space (especially in the ceilings), the location and contents of electric pipe spaces / shafts (EPS), and ensuring the necessary wireless signal reach. Electro-Magnetic Disturbance (EMD) of wireless signals by electromagnetic noise can be a serious problem in terms of patient safety. Maintaining a stable electricity supply is a problem in modern hospitals because of the increased use of electrical medical devices.
Most of these problems derive from a lack of communication among the building architect, the constructor, the network manager, and the hospital director. Communication between the HIS manager and the clinical engineers is important. These problems can be ameliorated by careful consideration from the earliest stages of hospital construction. Interdisciplinary discussion concerning the ICT infrastructure is indispensable in the planning stage and in the earliest stage of construction. Making rules and building an organization for management and information sharing are also important.
Japanese guidelines for the safe installation and management of wireless communication systems, such as medical telemetry systems, wireless LANs, and cellar phone use in hospitals, were first introduced in 2014 by the Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference of Japan (EMCC) in association with the Ministry of Internal affairs and Communication. EMCC revised the guidelines in 2021 to improve EMC and to address the introduction of a new generation wireless communication systems. In 2021, the Architectural Institute of Japan also introduced new guidelines for the safe installation and management of medical wireless telemetry systems.
Here, I describe problems that have been identified and discuss how we can safely install and manage wired / wireless communication systems in hospitals.