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A 2009 Survey on Communications in Healthcare

Respondents to a survey conducted earlier this year [2009] by Ascendent Systems indicated that there are too many devices and it’s difficult for people to reach one another. “Eighty-eight percent of the respondents said they had three or more phone numbers where they could be reached,” Heather Howland, senior marketing manager at Ascendent Systems, said. “That came across loud and clear in the survey we conducted at HIMSS, too. [Caregivers] basically have to wear a utility belt to hold onto all of these mobile devices. They’re finding that that’s a challenge.”

If someone in a hospital calls a nurse’s desk phone number, the nurse can answer the call on his or her cell phone, and treat it as if the call were on the desk phone. “I can transfer the call to someone else; I can conference someone else into the call; I can put them on hold. I can take care of important things right away, and won’t have to check voice mail later,” Howland said.

Most hospitals have nurse call systems that allow patients to pull on a cord or push a button to ring the nurses’ station from their bed. “One of the reasons we wanted to do this survey was to find out the needs of hospitals in terms of improving nurse communication and interfacing with nurse call systems,” Howland continued. “We found that one of the challenges in many hospitals is that often nurses can be away from the nurses’ station caring for patients so they’d like to have a system that could ring nurses on their mobile or wireless device in order to respond to patient requests immediately.”

The IT and nurse executives had similar concerns about telecommunications. “We found from this survey that single number reach is important. Eighty-eight percent of respondents agreed that having a single-number-reach solution would be accepted in their facility because it would be easier for nurses during emergencies and would be a helpful tool for them,” said Howland. A single number can also help with the multiple-device problem mentioned earlier. “It makes the process easier for both the person calling and the nurse who’s being called. It can help nurses’ responsiveness and productivity,” she added.

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Excerpts from “Advances for Health Information Executives”, Copyright ©2009 Merion Publications