July 03, 2008

In Fine Voice: Vocera improves patient care

vocera.jpg"The patient I was accompanying for a CT scan suddenly became very ill. I was immediately able to call the emergency department for backup from my Badge.”

No, not Bones speaking to Kirk in an episode of Star Trek but a quote from a staff nurse at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT). The Trust employs 22,000 staff members and serves 500,000 people a year. Its Emergency Department treats more than 50,000 patients a year and obviously enjoys a challenge, because in December 2007 it deployed the Vocera Communications System at the same time as relocating to an interim facility.

Kinetic Consulting Ltd. was chosen to carry out a benefits study of the implementation before and after deployment the findings of which are summarised here.

Data were collected before and after implementation using a combination of questionnaires, observational research, activity data analysis, interviews with staff and the collection of anecdotal evidence. Kinetic Consulting found Vocera System benefits included: savings in clinical time; more efficient processes; reduction in delays; increased clinician satisfaction; and improvements in patient care and safety. Ninety-eight percent of staff interviewed said internal communications had improved.

The Vocera Communications System consists of two main components: the Vocera System Software and the Vocera Communications Badge. The System Software runs on a standard Windows server and houses the centralised system intelligence: the call manager, user manager, and connection manager programs, as well as the Nuance speech recognition software and various databases.

The Vocera Communications Badge B2000 is a wearable device weighing less than two ounces. It enables instant two-way voice conversation. Features of the badge include:

  • Voice controls, enabling users to answer incoming calls hands-free

  • Intelligent system software allowing staff to call associates by name, function or group with no need to remember numbers

  • Supporting group communications with conference calling, broadcast messaging and voice mail

  • PBX integration enabling users to make and receive internal calls from their Badges.

Given the usual difficulties of implementing ICT in healthcare to everyone’s satisfaction, it’s a great pleasure to find a system that is unobtrusive, improves patient care and gives such immediate benefit.

June 30, 2006

VoIP: the future of healthcare communications?

Newton Meckley has written this good summary of Voice over IP telephony. Please note some of the article is only relevant to US readers.

Voice over Internet Protocol lets you make a telephone call using your computer and its high speed network. The voice signal from your telephone converts to voice over Internet protocol technology to a digitized signal that lets it be delivered across the Internet. Then when it gets to the person you're calling it changes back to regular telephone technology.

You can have a traditional phone conversation calling any standard phone number. When you call with Voip using your land line phone using the adapter for VoIP you get a dial tone just as usual and you dial just the way you always did. VoIP sometimes lets you call directly from your PC using an ordinary microphone or standard telephone.

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