Recent research shows that mHealth apps can: provide rural patients with two times greater access to care; decrease data costs by up to 24%; and save seniors up to 25% in their medical costs (1). In order for HCOs to implement a wireless network that supports mHealth apps for patients, a review of wireless network architecture, standards and topologies is necessary.
According to Shelly & Rosenblatt (5), there are seven specific issues that must be addressed when establishing a system architecture, they are:
1. Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
2. Initial and total cost of ownership (TCO)
4. Web integration
5. Legacy system interface requirements
6. Processing options
7. Security issues
Having considered the aforementioned system architecture issues, HCOs can begin planning the data and access methods, the applications programs needed to handle the processing logic, and the interface that will allow users to interact with the system (5). A HCO may choose to support their system architecture by establishing a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), both of which allow the sharing of data and hardware between servers, clients, and hardware like printers and scanners (5). HCOs will also have to decide how to establish the client/server architecture.
Depending on the HCO’s needs the organization has the option of setting-up a central data processing center, central server with remote terminals, a stand alone client , a two-tiered client/server, or a three-tiered client/server architecture (consisting of a data server, application server, and a client) (5). Finally, the HCO will need to model the topology of the system. The system architecture should include: network topology - that shows how the network is configured; physical topology - that shows the actual network cabling and connections; and logical topology - that shows the way the components interact (5).
Wireless networks are established by configuring a wireless local area network (WLAN) (5). There are three types of wireless network topologies: the Basic Service Set (BSS) establishes wireless access points that are used to serve wireless clients; the Extended Service Set is made up of two or more BSSs, which extend the wireless access area; and the Independent Service Set, which uses no access point and wireless clients are connected to each other directly (5).
1. Culp-Ressler, T. (2012, September 27). How smartphones are facilitating better health care. Retrieved August 21, 2013 from http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/09/27/923021/smartphones-better-health-care/?mobile=nc
2. Dolan, B. (2012, January 16). Each month 16.9M access health info via mobiles. Retrieved August 21, 2013 from http://mobihealthnews.com/15905/each-month-16-9m-access-health-info-via-mobiles/
3. Jarrin, R. (2013, June 13). HIMTA - take II: Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in wireless health. Retrieved August 21, 2013 from http://www.qualcomm.com/media/blog/2013/06/13/himta-take-ii-fostering-innovation-and-entrepreneurship-wireless-health
4. Gold, J. (2012, September 26). Lawmaker pitches new FDA Office of Mobile Health. Retrieved August 21, 2013 from http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2012/September/27/FDA-Mobile-apps.aspx
5. Shelly, G. B., & Rosenblatt, H. J. (2012). System analysis and design (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Course Technology - Cengage Learning.
The rapid growth and development of mobile technology in healthcare demands that health IT departments have the proper IT architecture to deliver wireless access to wireless networks within a health care organization (HCO). With an average of 16.9 million people accessing their health information via a mobile device a month, which represents a 125% increase from 2010 to 2011 (2), HCOs who are not prepared to enable the mobile retrieval of health information (mHealth) are at risk of being left behind.
With over 40,000 mobile health apps to date(1), the mHealth market poses a challenge for consumers and providers as the claims and accuracy of mHealth apps have yet to be regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With the introduction of the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA) later this year to the US House of Representatives(3), the FDA Office of Mobile Health would be responsible for ensuring mobile health app accuracy and oversight(4).
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Christopher M. Bell