With the release of the new Gartner report, “Reinventing Nurse Call to Enable the Real-Time Health System,” analyst Barry Runyon lays out a path for not only improving but also transforming clinical communications in hospitals—a route that is becoming crucial for providers to take as they navigate the changing landscape of regulatory reform, new value-based mandates and growing patient populations.
As many clinicians know, evolving care requirements and challenges make needs for modern nurse call systems, which help care team members respond to and communicate about patient needs, more complex and nuanced than ever before. We want take a moment to share our observations on Gartner’s report as well as our thoughts on how hospitals can best position themselves to meet these nurse call challenges.
The Next Frontier in Nurse Call
Runyon defines “conventional nurse call” as the limited, basic call bell functionality established by UL 1069—the standard for hospital signaling and nurse call equipment—and required in hospitals by regulatory agencies for licensed healthcare providers in the U.S. Though nurse call systems have added new features over the years, most have not kept pace with tech advancements and rapidly-changing care delivery models that require hospitals to provide better patient experiences.
Because of this hospitals are beginning to seek out and embrace components of the real-time health system (RTHS) that Runyon describes – components that offer greater functionality for patient care collaboration and alarm management than conventional nurse call systems are designed to provide. These systems leverage data, analytics and real-time communication tools, including mobile platforms, to improve the consistency and quality of care. Over the next three years, Gartner predicts that 30 percent of all conventional nurse call systems will be replaced by the real-time health system.
As hospitals modernize and expand their facilities, many have purchased middleware products aimed at making their nurse and patient communications more effective. These purchases come from budgets over and above nurse call. While most of these systems are not designed to completely replace nurse call, they offer capabilities that are needed to provide next level care rather than simply offering functionality mandated by UL 1069.
While conducting research for our Unsteady State eBook, we spoke with 138 healthcare professionals at various hospitals and found that about a third of all hospitals are using nurse call technology that is at least nine years old. Some systems even date back to the 1970s. A majority of the hospitals we surveyed—60 percent—said they would be likely to set aside room in their budgets for an “ideal” system to replace existing nurse call technology, lending even more credence to Gartner’s prediction that change is coming. Hospitals are waking up to the fact that the nurse call of the past is not equipped to take them into the future.
How Hospitals Can Adapt
Runyon recommends that hospitals look beyond conventional nurse call platforms to identify more functional alternatives. The anticipated solution lies within what he describes as “next-generation nurse call systems.” These systems would provide hospitals with a solution that not only meets the basic regulatory requirements for nurse call, but also enhances patient care communication and collaboration, helps manage alarm activity and provides interactive patient care. Sounds like a great idea, right? But something is holding us back: UL 1069. The regulations as they stand today prevent hospitals from realizing the vision. New mobile communication and collaboration platforms do not fit neatly within UL 1069 guidelines, and innovators find themselves with the difficult task of balancing major improvements with meeting the requirements of UL 1069.
Next-generation nurse call systems have the potential to unlock new possibilities for hospital leaders looking to improve their bottom lines, build employee satisfaction and increase patient safety. Ideally, this technology will also help push other emerging technologies forward, such as smart patient rooms and advanced patient monitoring, as we explore in a previous post highlighting Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Real-Time Health Systems” report.
As Runyon proposes in Gartner’s latest research note, the best nurse call technology combines traditional functionality, such as patient event notifications and electronic health record interfaces, with functionality that enhances communication and interaction between care team members and the patients under their watch. In our review of the research, we paid close attention to a table in the report that compared the capabilities needed for nurse call systems today with clinical communication and collaboration systems, interactive patient care systems, and alarm and notification platforms on the market. Though these technologies met many of the needs listed, none had the capability to meet them all.
We saw a very different picture when looking at how Amplion’s care assurance platform platform compared to this list. Our single-source, integrated solution not only includes the integral features found in clinical collaboration, interactive patient care and alarm management systems, but it also offers mobile device support, messaging, and real-time data, reporting and analytics.
This means Gartner’s anticipated nurse call system of the future is available now. See how our technology stacks up against the status quo here.
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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