The Challenge of Wireless Reliability and Coexistence

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Wireless communication plays an increasingly important role in healthcare delivery. This further heightens the importance of wireless reliability, but quantifying wireless reliability is a complex and difficult challenge. Understanding the risks that accompany the many benefits of wireless communication should be a component of overall risk management. The emerging trend of using sensors and other device-to-device communications, as part of the emerging Internet of Things concept, is evident in healthcare delivery. The trend increases both the importance and complexity of this challenge. As with most system problems, finding a solution requires breaking down the problem into manageable steps. Understanding the operational reliability of a new wireless device and its supporting system requires developing solid, quantified answers to three questions: 1) How well can this new device and its system operate in a spectral environment where many other wireless devices are also operating? 2) What is the spectral environment in which this device and its system are expected to operate? Are the risks and reliability in its operating environment acceptable? 3) How might the new device and its system affect other devices and systems already in use? When operated under an insightful risk management process, wireless technology can be safely implemented, resulting in improved delivery of care.

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