22 May 2015

WiFi sparking up Hawke's Bay health services

Staff, visitors and patients at Hawke’s Bay Hospital can now use free WiFi thanks to Spark Digital.

The hospital WiFi service is the same product provided in the Spark phone boxes, and is accessible from all of the  Hawke’s Bay Hospital buildings.  Spark Digital also provides phone systems, mobile and IT services for Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

There are now 19 Spark WiFi hotspots across Hawke’s Bay, using an average of 10TB of data per month.

Spark Digital Client Manager Leisa Epplett says the early user response has pleased the District Health Board.

She says: “A lack of convenient, cost-effective WiFi within health services is a constant bug bear for people attempting to use the internet. For security reasons, the DHB’s private WiFi network is highly protected. It does not allow staff to access the wider internet for their own personal use, nor does it allow patient or visitor access.

“Being in hospital is often an anxious time. Giving patients, family members and friends a simple way to stay connected is a benefit for everyone. Now, if a patient wants to Skype friends or an orderly check Facebook on their tea break, this new service makes it’s as simple as connecting to WiFi,” Epplett says.

The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer John Gommans said being able to keep in touch with family and friends and what was going on in the world through news sites, Skype and email will help patients from feeling isolated while they are in hospital. “Hospital can be overwhelming for some people, especially those who have long recovery times - being able to “keep in touch” will make a big difference to those patients,” Dr Gommans said.

Hawke’s Bay Hospital patient Conrad Holmes said free WiFi means he can download books to help him pass the time while in hospital. He says: “I can keep in touch with friends and family while I’m here, and read books without having to bring them in. It’s great.”

Spark New Zealand has been rolling out its WiFi service across New Zealand since 2012. There are now over 1000 WiFi zones operating throughout the country. Bright stickers at each hotspot explain how to access the WiFi service.

Other Spark New Zealand WiFi facts (Hawke’s Bay specific):

Total time online: 14828 hours

Average connection length: 3 mins

Active users per month: 25380

Average new registrations per month: 1150