Nurse Call of the Future: How Nurse Call Has Evolved

Believe it or not, the history of nurse call dates back to the mid-1800s. During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing, realized patients needed a way to ring for nurses. She remembered how the wealthy rang bells to summon servants in affluent homes, and envisioned a similar concept for nurses and patients. In a letter to an acquaintance, Nightingale wrote, “Without a system of this kind, a nurse is converted into a pair of legs for running up [and] down the stairs.”

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This rudimentary system—a handbell located at the patient’s bedside—was adequate for the patient wards where Nightingale served. But as hospitals and healthcare facilities grew, the need for a more sophisticated system became evident. 

By the 1980s, bells and buzzers were replaced with a central processor unit and a light and sound notification system. This technological advancement served hospitals well for a time—nurses were able to indicate which patients needed assistance by the dome light positioned above patient room doors. Two-way audio systems also allowed nurses to communicate directly with the patient to determine needs before rushing to bedsides.

Today, nurse call systems are more advanced than ever before. A technology that used to offer limited functionality is now a high-tech communications platform that provides invaluable reporting tools and analytics. Today’s advanced nurse call systems—referred to by Gartner as “next-generation nurse call systems”—are changing the way nurses communicate with one another and with patients. These next-generation nurse call systems provide clinicians with tools they can use to improve patient safety, drive better outcomes and enhance the patient experience—tools such as real-time data and actionable insights to identify care trends and address service recovery; alarm management tools to prevent alarm fatigue and desensitization; and care collaboration capabilities to improve rounding, nurse communication and confirm care delivery. 

As the healthcare industry continues to transition to value-based, patient-centered care, a greater need emerges for improved communication, optimized clinical workflows, better data and analytics, and faster response times. With a next-generation nurse call system in place, hospitals can improve patient satisfaction and patient safety, enhance communication between clinicians and patients, and improve clinical workflows.

Ready to take your hospital’s nurse call system to the next level? Take Amplion’s complimentary nurse call readiness assessment to score your facility’s nurse call performance.

Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale: Selected Letters, by Florence Nightingale and Martha Vicinus, Harvard Univ. Pr., 1990, pp. 66–68.

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Topics: Nurse Call

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