This note marks the beginning of a new continuing series in which I will look back in time and quote an earlier blog note. I will then comment about how the key ideas covered earlier have changed in the ensuing years.
In January, 2006, I posted a note about the innovative idea at that time of providing free Wi-FI to patients and visitors in a hospital (see: Free Wi-Fi for Patients in Hospitals). Here is a quote from the article:
The Richardson Regional Medical Center now provides free Wi-Fi Internet access to patients and visitors throughout the hospital. What started as a WLAN to support paperless charting became a broader deployment. Today, the entire hospital is on a Wi-Fi system. The system includes waiting rooms, patient rooms and associated medical office buildings. Access is also available to clinical personnel and for business functions. The clinical and business operations are completely separate from patient access so that no one can tap into the hospital's confidential records, [CIO Ronald] Franquiz said. "We definitely have total control to make sure that our business network and hospital network are not affected at all."
Richardson Medical Center was far ahead of its time by offering Wi-Fi to visitors and patients in 2006 in that Wi-Fi had only been invented in 1997 (see: The History of WiFi). Normally, hospitals tend to be relatively late adopters of information technology. Many of the users of this service in 2006 were probably using labtop computers; few had smart phones (see: Smartphone). Here's a brief discussion of the history of smartphones:
In 2007, the LG Prada was the first mobile phone released with a large capacitive touchscreen. Later that year, Apple Inc. introduced the iPhone, which used a multi-touch capacitive touch screen. Such phones were notable for abandoning the use of a stylus, keyboard, or keypad typical for smartphones at the time up till the early 2010s, in favor of a capacitive touchscreen for direct finger input as its only input type. The iPhone was "not a smartphone by conventional terms, being that a smartphone is a platform device that allows software to be installed", until the opening of Apple's App Store a year later, which became a common means for smartphone software distribution and installation.
Fast forward twelve years -- Wi-FI for guests and patients would be considered obligatory for most hospitals and health systems in the U.S. Nearly all of these users will probably have smartphones. As to the reason for accessing the Internet when in a hospital, some will probably be viewing their social media accounts like Facebook which was launched in 2004. Others may be scanning the news or communicating with friends via email or instant messaging, perhaps to occupy themselves when waiting for an appointment. Even more importantly, though, is that access to the Internet does enable patients perhaps to search for information regarding an operation that they will undergo or seek details about a disease that has been diagnosed with. As only one example, here is Youtube video describing a laparoscopic appendectomy. Wi-Fi access in public spaces like hospitals has become nearly mandatory.