Despite advances in ID technologies and potential illegibility, 78 percent of European hospitals still use handwritten wristbands.

New research from Zebra Technologies and IDG Connect suggests that while hospitals are making headway in mobile working for staff, there are areas where efficiency is being stopped by staff not utilising the technology investments in place such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology. One hundred and twenty five IT representatives from public and private hospitals in the UK, France, Germany and Italy were surveyed.

In terms of application of barcodes and RFID, fear of cost tops the list of reasons not to implement effective ID technology. Integration challenges (UK and Italy), reception by staff (Germany) and patient relations' reaction and gear of patients feeling ‘labelled' (France) also topped the list. The UK is the biggest advocate of ID technology with 90 percent of respondents planning to use both technologies for all applications.

Almost all (90 percent) hospitals use mobile devices to collect patient data. More than half use mobile devices to access patient data and biology prescriptions as well as asset and facilities management. In the UK, 97 percent of hospitals use mobile devices to collect data.

Nearly all (90 percent) the medical staff already have good Wi-Fi access along with three-quarters of administrative staff compared to 40 percent of patients, however 90 percent of staff feel there is room for improvement to WLAN and Wi-Fi networks.

Ten percent of respondents thought network security did not need improvement. Germany topped the list of those concerned about privacy and security.

“According to the research, there is a clear need for both discussion and education to enable a European healthcare cultural shift towards technology-enabled efficiency. Hospitals have a universal goal to become more efficient and free more time for patient care with better leverage of existing technology. Innovative leaders increasingly realise that without effective deployment, no technology investment will substantially improve efficieny, productivity and patient care,” said Bob Johnson, principal analyst, IDG Connect.