Rethinking Nurse Call

Posted by: Kenny Schiff on February 25, 2007

With all the innovation in medical technology and clinical software applications, it amazes me how little innovation there has been in nurse call solution over the years. I walk in hospitals that have invested millions on new software applications and have 20 year old technology for nurse call. . This is understandable since nurse call doesn’t require much sophistication to meet compliance for UL requirements in the US.

This low-tech thinking on nurse call is gradually changing from both the suppliers and the hospital market. There are a number of factors that are driving this evolution from the hospital’s perspective.

Wireless device integration
Many hospitals invested in wireless communication systems just to support simple voice communication between staff members. However, getting the nurse to know what the patient needs before getting to the room is a tremendous benefit. This is now possible by having the unit clerks send specific text messages to assigned care givers. This alleviates the need for a pager or an obtrusive phone conversation. In addition, the device can support automated calls back to the room where the request originated.

Having each nurse call interaction captured in a system allows management to view response times by patient, floor, or hospital. Root-cause analysis is now possible with nurse call systems.

Assignment management
The last factor that is evolving nurse call is the ability to manage the assignment of nurses to patients, nurses to devices, and unit clerks (consoles) to units. How this is administered needs careful consideration. As nurse call systems become more network-friendly, the greater ability they have to integrate with other scheduling systems and can more easily automate assignments.

I’m curious how you see this evolution. Send us your comments.

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