Wireless network provider, Air Portal, is hoping its appointment as sole Australia and New Zealand reseller of a wireless communications system from Vocera will pave the way for it to become established in the health, retail and hospitality markets.
Vocera’s two-ounce Wi-Fi radio badges are worn around the neck or clipped onto clothing and allow users to locate and talk to colleagues over an 802.11b local area network (LAN).
Blacktown Hospital in Sydney has agreed to run a 50-unit pilot scheme to assess how the badges integrate with current communication systems such as paging and telephony. Doctors and nurses in the emergency, radiology, nuclear medicine, pathology and pharmacy departments will take part in the three-month trial.
“We will be assessing the functionality of the devices, looking at what issues we would have to address to integrate [the badges] into our backend systems, weighing up potential cost benefits and finding out what our frontline staff think of them,” CEO of Western Sydney Area Health Service, Steven Boyages, said.
“These workers are mobile, operate in a high-level communications environment and anything that facilitates communication facilitates patient care.”
Air Portal started out doing wireless hotspots for cafes but sales and marketing vice-president, Michelle Neil, said the market was so immature that profitability was not forecast for at least five years.
This drove the company to target areas where Wi-Fi was already being used — including hotels, airports and convention centres — before contacting hospitals to try and sell wireless pay-per-use patient services like video on demand, broadband and video gaming.
Neil said Air Portal was also in discussions with four other hospitals in Australia and would approach large-scale retail or hospitality organisations that operate on large campuses.
Air Portal is currently based in Melbourne but will relocate to North Sydney next month to be closer to major partners such as Cisco and Optus.