Solutions For Healthcare & Hospitals
Increasing the quality of hospital care in any healthcare environment such as hospitals, general practitioners or other healthcare locations is not as simple as you might think. Of course the communications solutions that you implement are a critical factor. And with technology changing rapidly it can be possible to inherit or buy systems that are past their 'sell by date' which is not recommended. Ensuring a real time answer remains fully operational, secure and one which can deliver the levels of team work necessary remains key.
There is much talk about the patient experience but in some hospitals and healthcare operations that experience as we see on the news is sometimes physically flawed due to a multitude of reasons, but one underlying key aspect is communication. But how do you address all of the many needs that are prevalent in Trusts today?
And what about budget costs? Often you will find that older technology solutions tend to cost more. The reason is simple, it all comes down to older designs having a far higher component count - more components means higher cost for what is actually often seen as inferior to the current technology designs utilised. And there's another advantage, the new technologies are generally more robust and have a far lower failure rate (MTBF) because of a lower component count.
Consider areas where communications will help
Improved efficiency is a way of ensuring that staff use their time best in whatever they do, by ensuring work flows are efficient and that the patients experience really is what it should be. Tracking equipment is another way of improving the overall efficiency, we have all seen staff hunting for equipment that takes typically over twenty five minutes to locate, wasting important time that staff typically so not have spare. Every aspect has an effect on overall operational costs so it makes sense to target these areas.
Security is always an important factor and any solution that offers solid network security with a simplicity of use (everyone is not a communications specialist) will contribute to the highest levels of operability while staying secure.
An increasingly relevant system is based on cloud communications these days. What is important about these types of solution is the negligible installation involved, but the ability to communicate locally, regionally or even nationally. Hybrid solutions are very common, offering localised communication networks, but with that added advantage of much wider area integration if necessary.
Patient care can be improved because of the sharing of accurate information over the network that is also completely secure, and in these days of data theft this is a really important point.
Improve the speed of the services by using infrastructure solutions like patent appointment management that can provide the correct information to the right people at the time they need it.
Of course, the above is simply an introduction to where communication is critical in most healthcare environments.
Using current technologies in the healthcare sector
Taking a typical trust (if there is such a thing), there are clear demarcations that highlight some of the equipment and underlying technologies for certain areas. One such important area relates to major accident and emergency or MAJAX. NHS England has lots of guidance regarding the emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR) so that is worth taking a look if the reader is not conversant with the NHS England guidelines.
So ensuring that the MAJAX solution is effective is essential. The requirement is that if alerting or critical messaging is delivered to the necessary recipients securely and immediately, the ability to receive an acknowledgement of the message is equally important - remember this is a communications system! Lastly final communication to have staff stand down after the emergency situation is a requirement. Swissphone and Capture Technologies have advanced solutions for this exact problem.
Crash team communications is one of the most important aspects of communications in any healthcare establishment because literally someone's life depends on immediate response. The whole team involved will need a solution that is robust and completely dependable, while at the same time being advised exactly what the requirement is, where the need is for their services and very clear and concise information so that team members can take immediate action as necessary.
It is possible to manage all communications so that if something out of the ordinary can be assured of coverage. Automatically escalated alarms and importantly automatic logging and reporting is necessary.
Paging systems are very common for crash systems in healthcare and there are many models, from one way messaging, two way messaging, voice messaging and other specialised pager technologies that operate very effectively and will generally be within budget for this type of critical messaging. All of the solutions available from Swissphone have the necessary output to ensure very robust communication.
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND COORDINATION
Whatever solution is used, there is guidance from NHS Digital regarding instant messaging in acute clinical settings that should be understood. Having teams work together with each other is of course paramount, but some members may not be localised or regional but might even be national based. In many circumstances apps are often used to ensure shared information so that team members are all fully advised of things like medical records of patients for example.
Even more ancillary staff like cleaners or porters or similar need communications when their services are required.
But it's important to understand that this sort of communication follows certain levels of security, namely:
- Encryption - Does the 'app' meet the end to end encryption standards of 'AES 256'?
- End user verification - does the 'app' verify that the people using the 'app' are exactly who they say they are?
- Passcode protection - can a secondary PIN be used to protect the 'app', and can it be time-out enabled?
- Remote-wipe - can the messages be removed if the device is lost, stolen or redeployed to another staff member?
- Message retention - does the 'app' allow for automatic deletion of messages after a set period of time?
Swissphone has a complete end-to-end solution available from Capture Technologies as well as other equipment that can substantially increase the overall benefits of such solutions.
FIRE AND EMERGENCY ALERT SITUATIONS
False alarms are reasonably common place, but if the fire services are called out to a false alarm then the emergency services are able to charge for the visit. So it's important to ensure that any visit from the fire and emergency services are not generated from a false alarm. The best way to achieve this is with alerting messaging to ensure that there is a proper co-ordination of services to requirements and where necessary step-down services that are not actually needed.
The NHS and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) have discussed working in partnership with each other. Jacquie White for NHS England and Peter O'Reilly who holds the Strategic Lead role for Health within the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) wrote the document.
There are currently 41 of the 46 Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) providing support in 41 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) with the ability to reach 581,000 people in 2017-18. There’s a short video on the NHS England YouTube channel that provides a brief overview of the work and a great public-facing animation that shows what a safe and well visit is, on the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service website. Of course this is not specific to alerting, but the underlying content does indeed highlight the need to work together.
Clearly when NHS and Fire services do work together the results are both greater return on the investment by fire services as well as a reduction of healthcare spend only really achievable through great communications.
The technologies used for fire services and communication are all readily available from Swissphone and Capture Technologies Ltd.
CRITICAL SYSTEM MONITORING
Ensuring that critical equipment is monitored in any healthcare environment is necessary and essential. For example, there are now solutions available for monitoring (with various sensors) things like temperature, humidity or other criteria to confirm that systems are fully operational. Alert systems today are a far cry from what was available even just ten years ago, and they can literally transform the management and maintenance of such machinery with automatic escalations when necessary to relevant staff. Alerting servers are available that can integrate to other equipment easily and are easily managed once installed.
SAFETY OF STAFF
There is no doubt that over the years the safety of staff and the potential injury or even loss of life while carrying out duties has increased exponentially. Indeed the Guardian highlighted this problem recently, citing a lack of staff and delays as the cause. But the issues go much further than just the NHS, other healthcare establishments can and do also suffer in this way.
Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff are among those most likely to be assaulted when data was analysed from 181 of the NHS's 244 hospital trusts.
Whether in front of the public, or whether a lone worker or similar scenario, staff safety is paramount. Today there are a number of solutions that you will find on this website that are specifically designed, tried and tested throughout the world to ensure that people are kept safe. These solutions are reliable and highly cost effective to meet the needs of most budgetary restraints without affecting the quality or serviceability of the solution.
Clearly an article like this could go on to discover other healthcare communication solutions such as security systems, management of porters and tasks, the overall integration of regular communications in to the alerting systems and other important solutions. But more importantly, this article is written to 'introduce' readers to some of the areas where alerting or critical messaging can improve overall communications at all levels in healthcare and NHS environments.
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