Special report: Integration key to ending "communication chaos"

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | July 23, 2012
From the July 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

According to Amcom Software’s president, Chris Heim, more and more people are going to treat the patient monitoring system less as its own “island of information” and more as an integrated part of patient care.

“In the past 15 years, there has been a much bigger focus on connecting patient monitoring with other things in the hospital,” he says. “It used to be kind of connected to a central monitor. Now it’s a big change in connecting patient monitoring to mobile clinicians on whatever device they are carrying. This goes along with the rise of the smartphone.”

Connecting the dots
In November 2009, the Spyglass Consulting Group conducted a study, “Point of Care Communications for Nursing,” which found that incompatible hospital communications systems make it difficult for nurses to connect effectively with patients and to wirelessly collaborate with care team members.

In essence, doctors and nurses don a communications “tool belt,” consisting of at least one cell phone, smartphone, in-building wireless phone and a pager. So various messages from various machines must then reach health care workers’ various communications devices.

One popular solution is middleware, which integrates with a variety of input systems, acting as a hub for information, transforming these systems into a single device for communicating with other doctors, nurses, and patients, as well as clinical alerts, including nurse call requests and one-button patient callback.

A doctor receives an alert
from a patient monitoring
system on her smartphone.
(image courtesy of Amcom Software)

A partnership between GE Healthcare and Ascom Wireless Solutions unites wireless hardware and middleware with patient monitoring devices, offering hospitals a “one-stop” solution for wireless secondary alarm management. This enables workflow enhancements by providing clinicians with information anywhere in the hospital through automated paging or text messaging.

“It’s really important, as we have multiple pieces of technology, that technologies converge,” says Dr. David Barash, GE’s chief medical officer, Life Care Solutions. “By converging technologies, we can get all of this data put together into a sophisticated format or into an environment where we can do sophisticated analytics with it. We are going to converge data, technologies and devices, so we can do analytics on large volumes of data.”

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