Wireless local area networks (WLANs) are considered the next generation of clinical data network. They open the possibility for capturing clinical data in a prehospital setting (e.g., a patient's home) using various devices, such as personal digital assistants, laptops, digital electrocardiogram (EKG) machines, and even cellular phones, and transmitting the captured data to a physician or hospital. The transmission rate is crucial to the applicability of the technology in the prehospital setting.
We created two separate WLANs to simulate a virtual local are network environment such as in a patient's home or an emergency room (ER). The effects of different methods of data transmission, number of clients, and roaming among different access points on the file transfer rate were determined.
The present results suggest that it is feasible to transfer small files such as patient demographics and EKG data from the patient's home to the ER at a reasonable speed. Encryption, user control, and access control were implemented and results discussed.
Implementing a WLAN in a centrally managed and multiple-layer-controlled access control server is the key to ensuring its security and accessibility. Future studies should focus on product capacity, speed, compatibility, interoperability, and security management.