Wireless connection to the Internet on the entire hospital premises

The highlights

  • Licence for 500 simultaneous users, the network itself can cope with any number of visitors
  • 1,000 hot spots on the hospital premises ensure good reception
  • Patients and visitors register using their mobile phones, hospital protected against misuse

Online surfing for patients and visitors at the Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg as well as for students and employees has become much more comfortable and straightforward since April 2014. Patients, relatives, students, employees and visitors can now use the wireless Internet access using Wi-Fi (WLAN) for free on the entire hospital premises. The users receive the access data, which is valid for one week, by text message on their mobile phone after registration.

Previously, if patients or visiting relatives wanted to work online or surf the net, they had to use a chip card with an access code, as was the case with making calls. The cost of 20 euros was reimbursed after the chip card was returned. This laborious registration has now been done away with: If you want to use the University Hospital’s WLAN, you need a WLAN-ready device, such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone or mobile phone.

With a laptop or similar devices, patients and visitors access the “Patients’ Internet” network and specify their mobile number there. The personal password is automatically sent to this number. The first 10 days witnessed 650 users register on the network with approximately 110 surfing the World Wide Web simultaneously at peak times. A licence is for 500 simultaneous users; the network itself can cope with any number of visitors. The number of registrations is unlimited.

To ensure good reception everywhere, there are around 1,000 wireless access points in total for the Internet, so-called hot spots, on campus at Neuenheimer Feld and at the Akademie für Pflegeberufe. Costs for the changeover were relatively minor because these hot spots were already in place. The employees at the centre for information and medical technology (ZIM) at the University Hospital were able to make many settings themselves. The old hospital in Bergheim, the Orthopaedic University Hospital in Heidelberg, the kidney centre and the district hospital in Heppenheim are also expected to be integrated into the network in the near future.

Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg"We hope to make the time that our patients and their relatives spend at the hospital a little more pleasant with this service. Registration is now taken care of in a matter of minutes and this is good news not only when it comes to in-patient visits, but also with respect to waiting times in the outpatient clinic”, explains Karl Horn, Department Head of Communication at the ZIM. "We are taking a leading role here. Only very few hospitals or indeed cities in Germany have offered WLAN that is unlimited in time up to now." There is free Internet access, e.g. in Berlin, Munich and Pforzheim at present.

Despite simple and unrestricted access, the patient network has got better protection against misuse than it has ever had before: A daily updated filter prevents access to pages with radical right-wing, violence-glorifying or pornographic content and also illegal file sharing. Anyone still seeking to do criminal business in this way can be detected based on their registration.

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