Industry Watch – August 2015

July 28, 2015
Data Transmission

Fiber-optic barriers smashed

Photonics researchers at the University of California, San Diego, reported in the June 26 issue of Science that they have shattered the barrier that limits how far information can travel through fiber-optic cables and still be deciphered accurately by a receiver. “The discovery has the potential to increase the data transmission rates for the fiber-optic cables that serve as the backbone of the Internet, cable, wireless, and landline networks,” the university said in a statement about the work. In the long run, that also translates to cheaper, more efficient data transmission and networking.

Traditionally with fiber optics, as you crank up the signal power more distortion or “crosstalk” is produced. UC San Diego’s new approach, which depends on a technology called a wideband frequency comb, essentially does away with the power limit, so signals can travel further without needing a repeater.

How does it work? On a basic level, the frequency comb can predict crosstalk for bundled information at the get-go and then reverse it at the receiving end of the fiber, effectively cancelling out accumulated random distortions.

“Our approach conditions the information before it is even sent, so the receiver is free of crosstalk,” said Stojan Radic in a university statement on the technology breakthrough. Radic is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego and the senior author on the Science paper.

The UC San Diego researchers say they successfully deciphered information after sending it 12,000 kilometers (almost 7,500 miles) through fiber-optic cables with standard amplifiers and no repeaters – a new record. The current limit for sending information successfully over a fiber link with no repeaters is in the range of 80 to 100 km (50 to 62 miles). In another experiment, even when the researchers increased power 20 times they could still reliably restore the original information when they used frequency combs at the outset.

Crosstalk between multiple communication channels within the same optical fiber is reversible when a wideband frequency comb is used. Image courtesy of UC San Diego
Mobile Tech
Care facilities get turn-by-turn navigation

Healthcare facility visitors have a new tool to help them get from point A to point B: turn-by-turn indoor navigation maps, provided by the MediNav app from Connexient.

This iPhone and Android digital wayfinding solution provides a 21st-century update to the color-coded stripes on walls and floors that have been guiding patients, friends and family, and caregiving staff for years – along with some very handy additional capabilities that include physician lookups and location-based content. Pair the app with linked kiosks and digital signage throughout a space, and you’ve got a follow-me-anywhere digital information desk that never leaves users feeling lost.

The National Institutes of Health is MediNav’s latest (and geographically largest) adopter, using the solution for its Clinical Center Complex on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD. The facility consists of 3.5 million square feet of mixed-occupancy space in three congruent buildings and is comprised of clinical, laboratory, and administrative spaces that include 240 inpatient beds, 82 day-hospital stations, 15 outpatient clinics, and more than 5,000 rooms.

MediNav can be integrated with EHR appointment scheduling systems to reduce missed or late appointments and help drive a personalized patient experience. Other slick touches include one feature that allows the patient to save their parking spot location for easy navigation back to their vehicle after the appointment is over, and another feature that notifies staff when the patient first arrives at the facility.

STANLEY Healthcare, whose AeroScout MobileView platform has been named the KLAS Category Leader for real-time location systems (RTLS) for four years straight, announced in March a partnership with Connexient to add the MediNav technology to its solution portfolio. The hope is that providing end-to-end management of the patient journey will address some of the most common complaints on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys – particularly, difficulties with wayfinding and parking.

Cybersecurity

Security incident levels high, confidence in fighting them not

Two-thirds of the 297 healthcare leaders and information security officers surveyed by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) this year said that their organizations had experienced a significant security incident recently, although most respondents felt only an average level of confidence in their organization’s ability to protect its IT infrastructure and data. These are two of the many eye-opening findings presented in the 2015 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey, a research effort intended to assess the current cybersecurity concerns of healthcare providers and their efforts to protect their data assets. The survey was taken between February and April 2015. Other key findings include:

  • Respondents use an average of 11 different technologies to secure their environment; more than half of healthcare organizations surveyed hired full-time personnel to manage information security.
  • Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that there are too many emerging and new threats to track.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents believe a lack of appropriate cybersecurity personnel is a barrier to mitigating cybersecurity events.

Learn more about the survey and the full results at www.himss.org/2015-cybersecurity-survey.

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