Nurse Call/Care Team Communications

March 19, 2014

Next-gen Communications

A case for smartphones in the hands of nurses

By Suzanne West, RN, Clinical Solutions 
Consultant, Amcom Software

The underlying role of nurses, which is caring for people, will never change. But being a nurse is an ever-evolving job in terms of both the clinical treatment options and the technology used for administering care.

In my own career, I’ve transitioned from working directly with patients to helping other nurses. I see so much potential in technology to simplify a nurse’s life and make many tasks a lot easier. One of the things I’m focused on right now is secure texting with smartphones.

How does secure texting help a nurse? Primarily it saves time. For example, a patient calls to ask for a blanket or some water. Instead of tracking down the nursing assistant, it’s so much faster to select a text template and hit “send” to reach him or her. You can create templates for the most common requests such as, “Warm blanket request room ___.” The only thing to type in is the room number – quick, easy and efficient.

Texting is helpful for other workflows, too, like an ED nurse alerting the ICU charge nurse of a new patient headed their way. Perhaps a nurse needs to find lift help to move a patient, to reach a physician for a prescription request or help with an IV start (sometimes it’s necessary for someone else to take a stab, and, yes, pun intended). For these situations, a text template is fast and simple. It’s also quieter than intercoms and overhead announcements.

Smartphones can be powerful tools in the hands of nurses. Especially when integrated to the staff directory, they help coordinate care and improve communications, leaving more time for the caring part of our profession at the patient bedside.

Unified Communications

Spectrum Health aims for a pager-free environment with PerfectServe

When your organization consists of 10 hospitals, 170 ambulatory and service sites, and 960 advanced practice providers and employed physicians, you need streamlined communications. 

Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit health system based in western Michigan and the largest employer in its region, has stepped into the realm of using advanced, unified clinical communications technologies with its recent choice of PerfectServe as its system-wide standard to streamline clinical communications processes. With PerfectServe Clinician-to-Clinician and PerfectServe DocLink, the organization will enable more direct and secure physician-to-physician collaboration while speeding nurse-to-physician communication cycle times.

“We needed a comprehensive solution that could fold into our long-term vision for improving communications between clinicians while effectively managing HIPAA compliance risk,” says Michael Rosencrance, Vice President, Spectrum Health Information Services.

Spectrum Health also wanted to create a pager-free environment for its clinical staff, since the organization viewed pagers as a one-way, static communication method. With PerfectServe, physicians and nurses are empowered with secure, two-way communications that enable them to connect with the right clinician at the right time via secure email, phone call, text message or voice message – depending on each clinician’s personal preferences and set communication rules. The platform also provides a way to track, document and escalate communications should a response not be received in a timely matter, enabling improvements in efficiency and care coordination.

“Industry reform is driving hospitals and health systems to look at ways to become more efficient at delivering high-quality patient care. With these changes and the final HIPAA ruling in place, healthcare delivery organizations can’t afford to ignore the efficiency gains that can be realized by improving their clinical communication processes in ways that are compliant with their HIPAA security risk mitigation strategies,” says Terry Edwards, CEO, PerfectServe. “Spectrum Health is a great example of how a large organization can tackle these challenges by leveraging innovative technologies to connect clinicians throughout its expanding network of care.”


TIGER releases report on nursing informatics

“The Leadership Imperative: TIGER’s Recommendations for Integrating Technology to Transform Practice and Education (2014)” is the latest in a series of reports from the Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform (TIGER) Initiative Foundation. The series is aimed at identifying what every nurse needs to understand about nursing informatics and balancing the integration of practice and technology into a seamless experience for caregivers and care receivers. Topics covered in the reports to date include standards, competencies, faculty development, usability principles, virtual learning and consumer empowerment. The new report provides additional insights into how trends and pressures, such as the rapid deployment of technology, the demand for quality, patient engagement, population-based care management and required cost reduction, have accelerated the need for nurse leaders to not only understand these issues, but also maximize the opportunities they present.

The report is available at


Coordinate care, inventory and more

Voalte and Motorola have teamed up to offer hospitals the multi-purpose Motorola MC40-HC, a consumer-like device running on the Android OS. This durable, Wi-Fi-enabled solution supports the Voalte One application, which combines voice calls, alarm and alert integration, and secure text messaging. It also incorporates 1D and 2D barcode scanning for data capture and barcode medication administration, provides security features to meet privacy requirements and allows for remote management of devices and applications. Voalte

Collaborate on almost any system

The Vocera Collaboration Suite is the industry’s only HIPAA-compliant voice and secure texting smartphone application that features call by role, group and broadcast capabilities, and integrates with over 50 clinical systems. This solution offers intelligent communication on iOS and Android devices whether inside or outside the hospital. Vocera also offers a turnkey smartphone deployment and management kit that includes an extended battery pack, a docking station for storage and charging, and a mobile device management (MDM) application. Vocera

Track and report on HCAHPS hot points

Designed to work with CommonPath nurse call, the CommonPath Reporting Solution offers a full suite of activity reports that are easily accessed from any Internet-enabled computer by authorized staff to monitor, assess and report on HCAHPS hot points. Reports are available in summary, graphical and real-time dashboard format and focus on an individual, unit, facility or organizational level to provide response times to patient requests, caregiver call response performance, rounding performance and workflow analysis. Critical Alert Systems

Know who, what, where and when in real time

The Mobile Heartbeat CURE (Clinical Urgent REsponse) solution provides nurses, physicians and technicians with secure, single smartphone access to all clinical communications, pertinent patient information and lab data. The dynamic directory identifies and connects the changing members of the patient’s care team, both physicians and nurses, and provides information on how to reach them. This solution features secure texting, voice, caregiver-specific alarms and alerts, VoIP and PBX connectivity, and easy integration with EMRs and the cloud. Mobile Heartbeat

Voice over Wi-Fi is just the beginning

PIVOT is designed to bridge the gap between smartphones and purpose-built mobile solutions. This multi-touch Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) handset solution differentiates itself by its ease of use and ergonomic design, HD voice quality, seamless VoWi-Fi roaming, durability, broad telephony support and wireless local area network (WLAN) interoperability. Nurses get the ability to make voice calls reliably, access data and utilize specialized applications and solutions, such as the integrated 1D and 2D barcode scanners. Spectralink

Sync messages across multiple devices

Imprivata Cortext enables HIPAA-compliant secure text and photo messaging, care team coordination and multi-site communications across hospitals, health systems, ACOs, physician practices, home health agencies or other healthcare organizations. This easy-to-deploy SaaS solution offers real-time message synchronization across multiple devices, a desktop application with built-in notifications, and support for critical alerting and on-call scheduling systems to improve provider productivity. Providers can use the solution across all their iPhones, iPads, Android-based devices or desktops. Imprivata

Protect patient privacy on mobile devices

Marble Security has extended its Marble Messenger capability, a Web-based messaging client that enables healthcare organizations to protect information with encryption and passwords to enforce compliance for senders and receivers. The extension includes a secure guest access app for healthcare professionals outside the Marble network. The guest app allows users whose organizations have not deployed the Marble platform to respond securely to Marble Messenger notifications. The sender can recall messages from a guest as well. Marble Security

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