The argument for healthcare providers to modernise their facilities can be a compelling one.
Keeping up with new technology inevitably leads to decreased maintenance costs, more efficient staffing levels, greater productivity and a higher quality of care.
Despite this, many Trusts still display some hesitancy when it comes to updating old systems, with cost, security or disruption common concerns.
Here we address some of the myths and problems staff may be battling when considering an update to their existing critical care technology.
Investment in IP nurse call versus short term savings
When it comes to technology for better care, IP (Internet Protocol) based nurse call systems have been leading the charge, especially over the last decade.
A Trust that is looking to update their nurse call systems does not need to replace their entire network at once. Due to their flexible nature, IP-based systems can be installed in phases, i.e. ward by ward, or department by department. This is often a relief for those for whom budget or disruption are primary concerns, and avoids having to take a facility’s entire system offline.
For instance, wards utilising operating systems that are still care and cost efficient after many years of use may wish to simply modernise without the need for a complete overhaul. In these cases, IP-based systems can be integrated with existing digital systems, effectively ‘upgrading’ select clinics or individual wards with little interference. As this process is modular, Trusts and hospitals can integrate additional wards into the system when budget, time or necessity allows.
Lastly, once the IP cabling infrastructure is in place, hospitals can easily add new features, such as two way speech or temperature control, without any further disruption. Such developments and adaptations can be introduced over time, as the needs of the nursing staff change.
More efficient maintenance with IP systems
In terms of maintenance, older systems inherently require multiple checks, rounds and monitoring systems. In contrast, because IP systems use one centralised server, Estates Department staff are able to monitor the status of every comms point at all times.
This has multiple benefits.
Firstly, staff get immediate notification should a point fail, avoiding situations where patient care is at risk because nobody has been present to notice.
Secondly, grounds staff are spared from excessive checks and reporting. In fact, in many cases, staffing costs are dramatically cut due to decreased need for maintenance checks.
IP Systems provide better healthcare monitoring
In this age of digital data it seems fitting that IP systems collate the types of data that enable hospitals to improve levels of care and efficiencies.
By measuring the time it takes for a nurse to respond to a patient pressing their hand unit, for example, Trusts can ensure they are meeting both national and internal standards.
Data monitoring available via IP nurse call systems is not only vital in ensuring that care levels are maintained but also because, when necessary, this data can be used to reassure relatives that their loved ones received the best care available during their stay.
Ultimately this ensures that a greater duty of care is offered not only to patients, but also to the nurses themselves. Data collection such as this also encourages quicker response times.
Another benefit of IP nurse call systems is that they provide greater opportunity for mobility. As we increasingly grow more mobile, nurses can now access the status and whereabouts of their patients on their smartphones and can be alerted to any emergency regardless of where on the site they are.
At the same time, with personal call buttons and location detectors connected to the network, patients are able to move around the grounds safe in the knowledge their wellbeing is being monitored.
This cuts the amount of time nurses have to spend walking around wards checking on individuals, which in turn gives them greater flexibility and can dramatically reduce staffing levels for Trusts. It also gives greater freedom for patients and allows them to exercise some meaningful control over their care.
Additional benefits of IP nurse call
In addition to the benefits detailed above, IP nurse call systems are easy to install and simple to use, even for temporary staff to whom the system may be unfamiliar.
Digitally controlled, these networks are designed with the modern hospital environment in mind – and adapt to the requirements of today’s digital-savvy patient.
Further, because systems provide call logging through existing PCs and systems, more accurate reporting and monitoring naturally occur.
Lastly, as a one-shot investment, IP nurse call systems offer the opportunity for updates and improvements as and when a Trust requires, without the need for re-wiring, excessive expenditure or disruption.