The evolution of nurse call

How IP based systems are meeting patient and staff needs in the 21st century

Nurse responding to patient use of nurse call systemMarket demands mean nurse call systems are rapidly evolving for the 21st century.

These demands encompass a number of areas, such as an increasing need for centralised administration and reporting, in addition to a higher level of integration with 3rd party products. Although current HTM 08-03 guidelines do not cover the technology that is required to accommodate these new demands, it is now generally accepted that IP based nurse call systems offer hospitals and care trusts future proofing and the long term cost benefits associated with it, while also providing an improved experience for both staff and patients.

As they can be modularly installed, IP nurse call systems protect investment and allow clients to expand their system without the need to purchase an entirely new one. Such systems have the ability to link directly to other equipment and services in order to improve patient care and as a consequence, the patient experience.

Nurse call and third party integration for peace of mind

Where IP protocol differs from older technologies is in its ability to communicate with external devices, such as mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Thanks to IP, these are able to display patient calls to carers on the move, with audible alerts, and can be filtered to ensure staff only receive information relevant to their area, ward or site.

The benefit of utilising this system is that it offers a higher level of communication between patient and carer. This ensures clinical staff can attend an incident as quickly as possible, thus improving patient care.

The increasingly frequent introduction of “touchdown” staff bases is a good example of when a hospital may require new communication methods between multiple systems. Touchdown bases involve the allocation of nursing staff to a base that services a small group of beds within a ward or department. Mobile devices offer an efficient way to segregate beds and assign them to staff, who may be away from their allocated stations at any given point.

This is particularly significant when one considers that high priority events, such as a cardiac alert, require senior staff and teams to receive audible and visual alerts as quickly as possible wherever they are located within the site. With an IP system, the alert can also carry information about the location of the patient, thereby aiding a prompt response.

In addition, IP nurse call systems can be integrated with other hospital systems and equipment, including door access control, infusion pump monitors, fall detection and BMS systems, allowing mobile devices to also receive alerts from these systems.

The nurse call control devices, including the bedhead unit, can be used to control patient room devices such as SIP communication, and even blind, temperature, entertainment and lighting control systems.

Ultimately, IP works to improve the patient experience while reducing the necessity for nursing staff involvement.

Centralised Administration and Reporting with IP nurse call systems

Using an IP network allows the nurse call system to be managed from a central location, generally the Estates Department. The prompt alerting of issues within the nurse call system, via a mobile device or dedicated display panel, allows the system to be maintained to a high level.  The location and type of fault is displayed enabling site engineers to take appropriate action, eradicating the risk of patient calls going unreported, but also cutting labour time via maintenance checks.

Similarly, centralised reporting allows nursing management to manage staffing levels efficiently and to monitor key performance indicators, such as call response times. This leads to a higher level of patient care but also arms the site against the threat of litigation by providing precise logging of an event.

Nurse call evolution improving the experience for patients and staff alike

The evolution of nurse call systems has left a gap in understanding of how newer technology can fit the needs of patients and staff in the 21st century. That is why Wandsworth’s IPiN System Specialist, Terry Boarer will be presenting his talk, ‘How Healthcare Communications Technology Can Enhance the Patient Experience’ at the Healthcare Estates conference and exhibition at Manchester Central, 7th-8th October 2014, addressing the multiple benefits integrating an IP system can have to a hospital’s process.

Find out more about Terry Boarer and his work at Wandsworth Group here: www.healthcare-estates.com/speaker/mr-terry-boarer/