Hospital Communications

Nursecall system enhances patient safety and nurse security


Qatar’s Hamad Medical City has installed a state-of-the-art nursecall system in the Cardiology Tower. Middle East Health looks at how the system works and the benefits it is expected to give to nursing staff and patients.

Qatar’s Hamad Medical City ranks amongst the largest and most sophisticated purpose-built medical complexes in the world. Developed by Hamad Medical Corporation, the main provider of healthcare in Qatar, the Medical City is exactly that: a 450,000 sq m site dedicated to the provision of world-class healthcare and designed to cater to the current and future needs of the country’s population and visitors as it continues to develop economically, socially and demographically.

Development of the complex began in 2003 as part of the preparations for the 15th Asian Games, which were hosted in Doha City in 2006. Since then, the medical city has continued to be developed and one of the key specialist facilities is the ‘Cardiology Tower’, a state-of-the-art cardiothoracic healthcare facility which has been created to integrate all cardiothoracic medical and surgical services in one building.

This two-story unit contains 112 beds along with a number of specialist facilities including specially-designed operating theatres, an intensive care suite and outpatient provision. Alongside world-class standards of patient treatment and care at the cardiac facility, the design and specification have been formulated to provide outstanding levels of patient comfort and staff efficiency. Designing a nursecall system that could deliver this commitment was an essential part of delivering that objective and the system chosen to meet the brief was the IP Ethernet-based IPiN Nursecall system from UK-based healthcare technology specialist, The Wandsworth Group.

Easy integration

Like any modern hospital, the cardiac facility at Hamad Medical City not only needs to leverage the most advanced technology currently on the marketplace to enhance staff efficiency and ensure the best possible patient experience, it also needs to future-proof the hospital to accommodate future developments in healthcare technology. The choice of the IPiN system achieves both of these objectives, providing the facility with the most advanced nursecall system on the market, with the potential to programme in additional functionality and the possibility of integration with other systems at a future date.

Terry Boarer from The Wandsworth Group, explains: “The IPiN system uses a standard TCP/IP infrastructure which allows endless possibilities for integration, without tying the hospital to a single manufacturer or a specific IT protocol. Hospitals often have a range of separate networks for different functions such as security, nursecall and communications and these are usually based on a proprietary protocol and require their own wiring network, software and control panels which can only be integrated at considerable cost and with the aid of specialist expertise. However, the IPiN system can sit at the heart of a site’s TCP/IP infrastructure allowing integration of voice, data, TV and video, making management of the site’s technology easier and the addition of new elements much more straightforward.”

The Wandsworth IPiN provides an IPbased system to every bed head to maximise patient response times while providing the hospital management team with accurate data on response times and staff movement to aid scheduling and recruitment strategy. The IPiN system constantly monitors every bed head and part deployed, managing all calls (switch inputs) and constantly checking all parts are operational. Combining the reliability of a hard-wired system with the functionality of a wireless network, the system is completely scalable and can be installed on either a new structured cabling system or using existing structured cabling. The system combines easy to operate handsets at the bed head with a full colour touchcreen unit in the nurses’ station incorporating both audible and visual call alerts.

At the Hamad Medical City cardiac unit, the IPiN system was custom-designed to provide additional functionality and installed by the Medical Division of Qatari company, Mannai Corporation QSC.

Convenient communication

At the Hamad Medical City cardiac facility, the IPiN nursecall system has been designed to provide two-way communication between nursing staff and patients for every bed. Each bed head is fitted with a nursecall handset with a call button and a re-assurance indicator lamp so that the patient can be certain that the call has been transmitted to the nurses’ station. The same unit contains a microphone and speaker, which allows the patient to speak to the nursing staff and listen to the nurses’ response, providing reassurance, information and an important tool to help nurses prioritise calls. Each bed head location is also provided with a hands-free speech capability. At the nurses’ station, communication is via a conventional handset, using the touch screen to control the call.

Terry explains: “Patients use the nursecall system for different reasons: while for some it might be a last resort if they are in significant discomfort, for others, it may be something they use routinely if they have a question or even just need their pillows rearranging! The two-way communication function allows the nursing staff to answer any simple questions without having to go to the bedside and, during busy periods, it also means that nurses can prioritise calls according to patient need by communicating with the patient. In a cardiac unit where the patient’s condition can change very significantly in a short time this is an extremely useful function.”

The two way communication function is not the only way in which the IPiN system has been enhanced with extra functionality at the cardiac unit. The nursecall system has also been integrated with an automatic staff presence detection system that operates via a series of infra-red (IR) and radio frequency (RF) receivers located throughout the ward areas. Nurses are issued with RF/IR badges that are detected by the IR receivers located in every bedroom. This offers an automatic Staff Presence location. This activates a Room Lamp and presents a Presence Call on all assigned nurse stations, enabling staff to identify easily where personnel are currently located. At the Cardiac Tower, Presence locations are also displayed on a map at nurse stations. Using this system, a call alarm can be automatically cancelled as soon as she reaches the bedside, ensuring that she can concentrate on tending to the patient’s needs and preventing duplication of call response.

In a cardiac unit, both on the ICU and on the ordinary wards, a patient’s condition can deteriorate rapidly and what may start as an ordinary nursecall can quickly need to be escalated to full medical intervention with a crash team or doctor. And, unfortunately, staff and patient safety and security are always an issue that needs to be managed in any hospital environment. To address both of these concerns, it is not uncommon for hospital bed heads to include a panic button, but at the Hamad Medical City cardiac facility the ability to build additional functionality into the system has enabled a panic alarm that instantly recognises the location and member of staff involved and can be used alongside the IPiN’s two-way communication function.

The panic button is located on the reverse side of the nurse’s identity badge, allowing her to call for immediate assistance if the patient needs medical help or her own safety is in jeopardy. The combination of the person-specific panic alarm and location-specific presence detection means that colleagues know instantly who needs help and where she is and if it is specific medical assistance that’s required she can communicate those needs using the two-way communication function on the IPiN handset.

Management tool

From a hospital management perspective, one of the major benefits of the IPiN system is that data from the system is available to access from any PC via a secure internet connection, allowing the management team to remain up to date with activity or identify any issues at all times.

The added functionality of the IPiN system at the Hamad Medical City cardiac facility enhances the level and detail of management information that is available to the management team. Thanks to the automatic staff presence detection the system can track response times and patterns, helping to feed in to staffing and scheduling requirements. What’s more, if any call has been activated, the system can identify who answered the call and, thanks to integration with the presence detection function, full information relating to response time and duration can be assembled. This not only helps monitor staff performance and identify any professional development needs, it also provides excellent data in case of any litigation.

Terry explains: “Litigation against hospitals may not be an everyday occurrence but it is a risk that needs to be managed. A system that can record staff responses accurately offers a much more credible defence than verbal accounts of what happened and if a serious incident were to take place, the management team could access real time data via a secure internet connection from anywhere in the world.”

Future flexibility

The nursecall system at the Hamad Medical City cardiac facility has been specified to meet the hospital’s current requirements but its inherent flexibility means that it can continue to adapt to those requirements as and when they change.

Allowing remote fault diagnosis and configuration, the system is easy to manage, even if the use of space within the building changes.

Terry adds: “A hospital designed as a world class facility needs to anticipate future requirements and, as far as healthcare technology is concerned, the IPiN system will allow the Hamad Medical City cardiac facility to do just that.”

 Date of upload: 15th Nov 2011


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