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News archive - November 2014
A new era for nurse call systems
Nurse call systems are evolving with great speed as a result of market demand for integrated technology. Here we look at how solutions are changing to benefit staff and patients.
"Technology is marching on at an alarming rate”, according to Terry Boarer from the Wandsworth Group.
And this is certainly true for hospital nurse call systems, which have changed beyond recognition since the early solutions were first unveiled in the 1960s.
Speaking at the 2014 IHEEM Annual Conference in Manchester, Boarer said this evolution is driving manufacturers back to the drawing board where they are creating new and improved systems that meet the needs of modern and rapidly-changing healthcare services.
"Technology has helped us to develop more-sophisticated call systems and patient experience is central to this in this day and age," he added.
"It is no longer just about a call button and light controls. We are being asked to consider integrating other things such as blind controls, mood lighting and temperature control, as well as USB points and charging sockets for smartphones and tablet computers.
"Clients also want more than just patient-to-nurse communication. They require nurse-to-nurse emergency call functions, in particular in areas like cardiac wards. Everyone also wants ward-to-ward transfer, so if bells go unanswered they escalate up to the next point of call."
In addition to these features, nurse call suppliers are reporting requests for staff presence systems, fall and motion detectors, and improved interfacing so that systems fit in with increasingly technology-based healthcare practices.
"We are being asked for systems that interface with third-party devices and to make our technology link into building control and fire systems," adds Boarer.
Call logs are also vital, so that staff can record response times and use those to enhance and improve services.
"Nurse call systems are more than just communication devices now," he said.
"We need to start thinking about auditing and fault monitoring and we have even been asked to consider bed management technology.
"What is driving this is that space at the bed and at nursing stations is valuable and integration in this way means fewer units. A single display with multiple features lowers the cost and, in the healthcare market, this is a very strong driver.”
The new generation of systems, therefore, offers much more than just a simple call button. Modular by design, they enable upgrades to be made without having to but new kit. And IP systems are now available that can support third-party technology.
The IHEEM Annual Conference ran alongside the 2014 Healthcare Estates exhibition, which played host to a number of the country’s leading nurse call providers, including Wandsworth.
Courtney-Thorne was showcasing its 08 Wireless system, which has been designed to provide an audit trail of response times and staffing requirements and can be integrated with DECT telephone and pager systems or Samsung WiFi phone systems. It has already been installed in 15% of England’s NHS acute trusts.
And Static Systems demonstrated its Fusion-IP Codem, which provides a wide range of apps as well as basic functions.
A spokesman said: “With many hospitals still using legacy systems, which are becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain, our solution is allowing trusts to upgrade systems with minimum disruption, while staying within tight budget constraints.”
Other suppliers included Vizcall, which has recently launched its Call Master IP Bedhead range, which accommodates a standard hardware and open software solution.