Welcome to the WiFi world – is this a good thing?

It seems like WiFi (wireless fidelity or wireless networking) is all the rage at the moment, with Wifi hotspots popping up everywhere. I can see how having easily accessible access to the Internet can be a good thing. But, is it so good when hospitals jump into the foray? Here’s an article that I found titled “Hospitals take the pulse of WiFi tracking“.

So after reading the article, you may be wondering, “what’s all the fuss?”. Well, by itself, the fact that hospitals are starting to deploy wireless networks isn’t newsworthy. What is troublesome is the seeming increase in e-crimes like identity theft and security breaches to corporate networks. Wireless networking provides just another means of gaining access to the system. In today’s Globe and Mail, there was an article discussing the headaches that widespread WiFI access is causing to IT staff (“WiFi access wherever you go, giving IT staff the blues” pg. B12). As we have health care professionals becoming mobile using more devices, the opportunities for theft, loss, and ultimately attack increase. So, I ask again, is this move toward WiFi a good thing? When we consider the serious consequences of having one’s health information breached, I would have to wonder if it may be better for hospitals to wait a bit.

On a related note, I am somewhat surprised that reports of breaches of corporate systems goes relatively unnoticed. I can’t recall the specific company (I think it is shoe retailer DSW), but over the past few days, there has been a steady series of articles discussing how millions of customer records were stolen. Isn’t this at all disconcerting to anyone? Have we grown tolerant to this break of confidentiality and privacy? If this happened in health care, you know that there would be inquiries and a huge fuss. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but how do we know that it isn’t happening already? Ironically, I’m sure that the health care industry’s slow adoption of electronic tools has been mitigating some of the risk – it’s funny how the “paper record” keeps health care safe in an era of digital identity theft.



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