Flashback Friday: How Legacy Hospital Nurse Call Systems Have Evolved

Posted by Frank Grant, President & CEO on August 18, 2017

ThrowbackAmplion1-1.jpgYou might laugh at this memory from the movie “Wall Street” of what was once considered a state-of-the-art mobile phone and say to yourself, “Technology has come so far!” But is your hospital operating with a similarly antiquated nurse call system? Many hospitals are using systems well past their peak functionality.

According to Gartner research, as many as 30 percent of hospitals operate with nurse call systems that are nine years old or older. Some even use signaling technology that hails from the 1970s.
Most hospitals recognize this problem. As many as 60 percent of facilities say they would be likely to set aside room in their budgets to replace existing nurse call technology. Here’s a walk down memory lane to show you legacy systems of the past and what features are possible in a next-generation nurse call system.



Pillow Speaker 

Patients have typically used pillow speakers to turn on the TV and call for a nurse. Next-generation nurse call systems feature special button options to automatically notify caregivers of frequently requested patient needs, such as “pain,” “water” and “toilet.”



Emergency Bathroom Assistance

Traditionally if patients needed emergency assistance in the bathroom, they would have to pull a cord to signal for help. Next-generation hospital nurse call system feature toilet seat fall sensors, along with toilet station talkback functionality, to let patients know help is on the way.



Dome Light

In the past, hospitals have used dome lights to indicate when a patient needed assistance, but caregivers had no way of knowing the nature of the request. Next-generation nurse call features a configurable dome light that assesses the status of the patient and any urgent needs.



Nurse Console

A nurse console used to be composed of a bank of lights indicating which rooms needed attention. Amplion’s next-generation nurse call features a touchscreen nurse call console and a Care Traffic Controller (CTC) PC at each nursing station that allows instant visibility into every room. The technology helps nurses respond to patients more quickly, close communication and care loops, and ensure optimal rounding.




Nurses used to have to be at their desk to respond to a patient request or speak with a doctor about an order. Next-generation nurse call systems are integrated with wireless phones, allowing nurses to connect with patients and care team members from anywhere in the hospital. Nurses can use smartphones, tablets and other devices to text, access staff directories, escalate messages or speak directly with patients.



Legacy Nurse Call Versus Next-generation Hospital Nurse Call System

Here are three more significant improvements offered by next-generation nurse call systems:

  1. Increased functionality. Legacy nurse call systems meet UL 1069 functionality standards, but this standard does not account for newer technologies introduced in recent years. Many systems today are based on outdated standards and technology introduced in the 1970s. Next-generation nurse call systems are software-based systems that in many cases exceed current UL standards.

  2. Lower costs and faster repairs. Most legacy nurse call systems rely on middleware to provide advanced features and are sold through middlemen, which drive up costs. They also have more complicated installations and lengthier times for repairs that increase the lifetime cost of ownership. Next-generation nurse call systems do not rely on middleware and are sold directly from the manufacturer with no middleman markup. Repairs typically can be done remotely and take minutes versus the hours or days it can take for a service call from a nurse call distributor.

  3. More efficient care and easier reporting. Legacy nurse call falls short on delivering point-of-care data that can transform patient care. That old adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure rings true. Most systems on the market today do not include an easy way to access data and reports that help hospitals efficiently meet patient demands. Next-generation nurse call provides a powerful care collaboration tools and real-time reporting that helps hospitals take action to ensure happier patients and caregivers and manage the bottom line.

Amplion’s next-generation nurse call system uses smart technology and workflow optimization to improve not only nurse call, but also care coordination, patient safety and communication, and alarm management. Our data-driven platform also provides messaging capabilities and reporting tools to give hospitals the visibility they need to increase accountability, reduce burnout, enhance staff morale and the patient experience, and drive financial outcomes.

If you want to know the cost of outdated technology to your hospital, staff and patient care, talk to one of our technical specialists today.

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Topics: Blog, Nurse Call

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