It goes without saying that innovation in healthcare is vital, but when it comes to nurse call systems things have remained consistent since the original relay systems were implemented.
While the equipment may have been modernised and the technology powering them significantly improved, the design principle of nurse call systems have and will likely operate on the same principles for years to come.
That said, innovation in design and technology continue to spur great improvements in patient care, but also enable staff to better optimise their time and save trusts, private care providers and NHS hospitals substantial costs across maintenance, staffing and even mitigation.
Innovation: Tech and mobile
Much in keeping with the developments of patient and staff’s everyday lives, nurse call systems, and indeed nursing itself, is becoming more mobile.
More frequently, hospitals are looking for systems which allow their patients to be liberated from the confines of their rooms or beds when undergoing care or treatment.
At Wandsworth, we’ve spoken to staff at hospitals, respite care units and hospices who explain, while it is comforting to know there are systems in place at their bedside that, at the press of a button, transmit their location, they are keen for nurse call systems that allow patients to move around freely in the same knowledge.
Nurse call systems that integrate mobility offer patients this freedom, all the while providing information, such as identity and location, to nurses whenever a call is made.
Conversations like these are what prompted the development of our own ‘Site Server’, which gives trusts, NHS hospitals and private care facilities the ability to run their own nurse call system off apps on Android phones. Instead of using pagers, Site Server allows nurses to have all necessary information automatically diverted to their mobiles, wherever they are in the hospital. Much like an enterprise app, Site Server works locally on the facility’s Wi-Fi, with the software designed to interface with the nurse call system in use throughout the building.
Obviously, we don’t advocate mobile monitoring as a first line of indication of a problem, but as a back up, mobile nurse call systems can provide a significant and positive impact on both the quality and cost of care provided.
Innovation: More accountable care
The first relay nurse call systems functioned as simple indicator panels. Although effective, these basic systems came with obstacles, such as the costly need for repair or increased likelihood of human error.
Digital Call Systems soon followed, which provided staff the option to make emergency and cardiac calls, as well as transfer calls to other, better staffed wards. The subsequent development of the DCS System allowed the nurse calls systems to be connecting to paging systems, which meant, much like modern mobility developments, nurses could be away from a station and still receive a call.
Nowadays, nurse calls systems use network IP technology, offering the same as DCS system but with far greater flexibility and mobility. With this comes greater accountability.
Modern systems allow for increased accountability of care because monitoring and recording data, such the average response time between when a button is pressed and when a nurse arrives at the bedside or room, is made that much easier.
The recording of response time data, for example, enables trusts and hospitals to quantifiably measure the quality of care provided, as well as better comply to the standards required of them.
Equally, in terms of mitigation, while a patient’s family may argue a relative pressed a nurse call button yet nobody answered their request, the IP systems allow for the trust or individual carer in question to offer the logged response time in reply. They can demonstrate how this compares with their overall target time or the standards required for acceptable care. This benefits both hospital and patients alike.