What does HTM-08-03 mean for nurse call systems of today?

Nurse call systems in the UK are governed by HTM-08-03

The UK Government regularly publishes Health Technical Memorandums (HTMs), with the aim of providing advice and guidance on the design, installation and operation of specialised building and engineering technology used in the delivery of healthcare.

One such HTM, HTM 08-03 governs all hospital bedhead services, including the provision of nurse call systems, so all nurse call products marketed in the UK are required to comply with this.

However, while HTM-08-03 was developed to show what good working practice looks like with regards to the management of nurse call systems, it was written over a decade ago.

With technology advancing ever quicker, what does the guidance issued at publication mean for those looking to upgrade or purchase nurse call systems in the current environment?

HTM-08-03 highlights flexibility as a key demand of nurse call systems

HTM-08-03 predicted the rate of technological innovation would increase, and heightened the awareness of flexibility as a requirement of nurse call systems.

The Memorandum itself describes the need for flexible design in such hospital alert systems:

Owing to the improving and evolving nature of healthcare facilities, it is important to have in-built flexibility of service provision at the bedhead. Where a room undergoes a change of use, the system should be capable of seamlessly changing the nurse-call facility within that room both from a software and from a hardware point of view.

One way of complying to HTM-08-03’s demands for flexibility in the 21st Century is by adopting a modular approach to nurse call systems, allowing elements to be modified or added to the core engine according to necessary requirements for providing appropriate healthcare.

Such a system also makes sense from a financial perspective according to IP nurse call specialist, Terry Boarer:

“Such a system helps protect the original investment too. New systems can be added with just a small additional cost, enabling users to evolve their systems at their own pace.”

How IP nurse call addresses the challenges of HTM-08-03

Utilising a standard Internet Protocol (IP) based nurse call system will help ensure the flexibility documented by the Memorandum.

Facilitating central management and control of data from different hospital systems, IP-based systems use a standard network protocol and topology that is well established.

Utilising a platform that is used by a majority of developers means that it will be possible for the system to ‘talk’ to many other hospital systems, using a standard level platform, integrating diverse healthcare systems.

As Terry Boarer explains, “It will also be possible to link all the individual IP-based systems together and control them from a single server, bringing together a variety of traditionally disparate systems – such as paging, wireless panic systems, and environment and entertainment control systems – and enabling them to be managed in a more cost-effective way.”

As well as offering compliance with HTM-08-03, an IP nurse call system also offer managers in the healthcare sector added value through this integration with other hospital systems. Such amalgamation of healthcare systems can provide a much simpler audit trail than HTM-08-03 could have ever predicted, and enables data collection relating to response times and care provided for quality-control purposes.

HTM-08-03 compliant nurse call installations

Successful nurse call installations at South Tyneside and Bristol’s Southmead Hospital utilising Wandsworth’s IPiN nurse call system illustrate how HTM-08-03 compliance can deliver effective resource management and system flexibility while still providing the exceptional healthcare demanded by health practitioners.

It is clear that the guidance outlined in HTM-08-03 is as relevant today as when it was published, and the rapid evolution of wider technology means compliance with the Memorandum is still essential for sourcing nurse call systems that meet the challenges faced by healthcare providers in the present.