recommended reading

VA gets hospital Wi-Fi act together

Thinkstock

The Veterans Affairs Department has 111 medical facilities lacking advanced Wi-Fi systems to support a number of uses, including real-time tracking of equipment and personnel. In late March, VA issued a contract to install wireless access in four of those sites by October.

The department originally contracted with Catapult Technology Ltd. in October 2008 to install Wi-Fi in 236 hospitals and clinics, but this ambitious plan foundered when the project literally ran into a wall. The thick concrete found in many older hospitals impeded transmission of the wireless signals and required installation of more access points than originally estimated, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker told lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee in May 2011.

Catapult completed Wi-Fi installation at 65 medical facilities before VA put its contract on partial hold in February 2011. In March 2012, the department awarded a new contract to support deployment of the Real-Time Location System, Baker told reporters last week. RTLS is a tracking system officials believe will help hospitals improve efficiency and ensure medical equipment is properly sterilized. It requires Wi-Fi signals to operate.

On March 22, VA awarded Harris Corp. a $19.4 million task order off its $12 billion umbrella Transformation Twenty-One Total Technology (T4) contract to cover Wi-Fi installation at 26 sites where early RTLS installation is planned, according to a white paper provided to Nextgov by VA spokeswoman Jo Schuda.

This contract covers design services, equipment and post-installation services for an initial four sites to be completed by October. The four sites are not named, but RTLS solicitation documents say VA plans initial rollout of the tracking system at hospitals in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.

The Wi-Fi white paper said strategy for equipping the remaining 85 medical facilities will be determined at a later date. Lessons learned on the current T4 task order will help determine an appropriate strategy and contract structure.

VA also wants to install separate Wi-Fi systems in its hospitals to provide Internet access for patients and visitors. Hospitals in Augusta, Ga., and Denver have issued contracts for these systems. Baker said at the press briefing that he still had not decided whether to issue a national patient Wi-Fi contract.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.