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1st Australasia Hospital To Offer Free Internet

First Hospital In Australasia To Offer Free Internet Access

North Shore became the first hospital in Australasia to offer its patients and visitors free Internet access via dedicated computer kiosks.

The North Shore Hospital Foundation, together with ZIP Internet (an Auckland-based national internet and toll provider), have established three Internet kiosks for an initial pilot period of six months.

The kiosks are placed in the main foyer, a surgical ward, and a medical ward, with plans to extend usage throughout the hospital.

North Shore Hospital GM Rachel Haggerty says it is intended that each kiosk will be specifically tailored for the area it is in. For example, the maternity ward might get a web cam for parents to email their newborn’s picture to family and friends.

Other hospitals offer data points where people can plug in their own computer equipment, but this is the first time free computer access has been available for patients, families and visitors.

“We get many requests from patients to use the computers within the hospital, but can’t give them access to workstations because of security and confidentiality reasons.

“Long term patients, particularly, can become bored and feel isolated. These kiosks will enable them to email friends and family, go on-line to pay bills, do their banking, and even do their grocery shopping if necessary.”

Profits from advertising sales from businesses, who will have direct links to their own Internet sites, will be shared with the foundation.

ZIP Internet Director of Sales & Marketing Rajiv Bhandari says the kiosks are standalone, robust, unmanned booths where users can surf the net the same way they do at home or office.

“They’ll provide a user-friendly, no-cost service to anyone at North Shore Hospital to communicate with friends, relatives and office colleagues through the Internet.

“Considering emails have become the most preferred and seamless way of communication, free access to this value-added service, especially to hospital’s patients and their visitors, during their hospital stay will hopefully lessen stress.”

It is also a great way for companies already on-line to service the ‘captive market’ in hospitals.

Each user will be limited to a 15-minute session and Internet access will be controlled through net nanny software. The kiosks are connected to ADSL (high-speed broadband) lines, rather than normal dial-up modem. Discussions are continuing around plans to launch other telecommunications products at the hospital with the intention of reducing toll call costs for patients and visitors. ENDS.

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