Nurse communication systems make strides
Nurse communication systems continue to evolve for hospitals, as they interface with medical equipment, real-time locating systems (RTLSs) and other Internet of Things-enabled devices. They continue to improve communications, receiving and delivering information that is crucial to enhancing hospital operations and patient care. Still, vendors face some challenges.
The most important issue for nurse communication systems is lessening the load on clinical staff so they can spend more quality time caring for patients, according to Lee Clark, president and CEO at Care Analysis, Nashville, Tenn.
He notes that health care facilities have too many devices and systems that don’t work well together. In addition, security and reliability are important considerations that impact ease of use. “As vendors, we must view all health care facilities as slight variations to the same use case,” Clark says. “This will become more important as providers use more remote services and contingent staff.”
The big issue is that many of today’s communications solutions are siloed or not available to the care team when and where they need it, says Marc Peters, chief executive officer at West-Com Nurse Call Systems Inc., Fairfield, Calif. “Having a better understanding of the where, what, why, how and for who is vital to improving situations,” he says. “Also, understanding that nurse communication really involves the entire care team and departments such as dietary, pharmacy, case management, transportation, lab and imaging.”
Ultimately, nurse call technology solutions should make the lives of clinicians easier. Nurses do not have time to figure out who is on call or sift through paper lists to find phone numbers, says Rhonda Collins, chief nursing officer at Vocera, San Jose, Calif. “The ideal communication system is a voice-activated one that enables nurses to connect with the right person or team quickly and easily, simply by saying a role or group name, such as, ‘Call respiratory therapist.’”
The current trend is to integrate even more medical devices to nurse call systems. Using a required platform like a nurse call that’s already in place makes more sense than adding a separate platform or infrastructure to collect data and distribute alarms.
“However, questions around integration with various systems has become a talking point with most customers,” says Jeff McCormick, director of product management at Ascom Americas, Morrisville, N.C. “One concerning trend is the emergence of nonregulated products with menus that allow patients to send messages to caregivers. While these nonregulated systems provide many benefits, if used by a patient in an emergency, it may result in bad outcomes.”
Receiving and delivering information that is used to communicate with hospital staff members, patients and family members is critical to improving patient safety and the overall care experience, experts agree. Proper integration of systems is important.
When all communication goes through an integrated platform, the system knows the number of calls, texts, alerts and notifications each team member has received within a certain time frame, according to Collins, so the system can redirect the next communication to a clinician who is available. “If a nurse is responding to a Code Blue, for example, they should not receive calls, messages, alerts or alarms until the code is completed. An integrated communication system helps reduce alarm fatigue, speed up staff response times, and improve patient care, safety and experience.”
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