The concept of a nurse call system is simple enough. A patient needs help, so they push a button, a light comes on in the hallway, and the computer station gets a notification. Shortly thereafter, a nurse stops by the room to see what the patient needs. In many cases, someone at the computer station will speak directly to the patient through a phone system or speaker system to determine what the patient needs before a nurse arrives in person.
This is, essentially, what is required according to nurse call system codes and standards, and, for many years, the systems in hospitals rarely went beyond these requirements. However, today, modern capability and patient needs both necessitate and facilitate more advanced nurse call systems. But if the old systems meet the codes and standards, why are updated nurse call systems important?
More Efficient Nurse Allocation
It is now possible for patients to send alerts to a nurse call station, which will then send a message to the nurse’s phone. Messages are then marked as “received” once a nurse opens the message, and they can reply with “accept” or “unavailable” (or similar terms) to indicate whether or not they can immediately address the situation. With this advancement comes a number of benefits, including higher patient satisfaction, improved communication, better nurse management, and so much more.
Improved Communication between Caregivers and Patients
Modern nurse call systems often include an advanced messaging system that automatically sends nurses and physicians messages based on patient condition, nature of the call, and whether or not a doctor may be needed. Furthermore, these call systems can facilitate two-way communication directly between patients, nurses, and doctors, based on which nurses are assigned to which beds. Instead of continuously talking to a nurse at the station who then relays the information to the nurse who will address the call, patients can speak directly to the nurse who will attend to them once assigned.
More Information Available to Nurses
Nurses responding to a call can get more information through a modern nurse call system than they could a decade ago. A text message or even an audible announcement coming from their phone can inform them of the direct nature of the call, such as “Fall Alert in Room 218” or “Code Blue in Room 145.” Even more information is available when nurse call systems are linked to heart monitors and other medical equipment to inform nurses of acute, critical conditions such as patient arrhythmias or dangerously high fevers.
Updated nurse call systems have a number of features that can help with managing the many nurses and patients in a hospital. A central station can access information based on nurse location within the hospital (determined through the nurse’s work phone, typically), the nature of the patient’s call, and other information. This allows it to determine who would be best suited to answer the call if the primary nurse is not available and the call needs to be escalated. Plus, reports and logs on nurse calls can be generated automatically by the system, which makes for better management and accountability. These systems can also help the hospital as a whole, as information can be used to update other departments, such as when patients leave and housekeeping needs to tidy up the room for a new patient.
Better and Faster Response Times
With all the information, automation, and allocation surrounding these new nurse call systems, patients get responses to their needs faster, calls are easier to prioritize, and nurses know more about what they are walking into when they answer a call. They are able to be more prompt in their care. And, if more personnel are needed for a given situation, alerts are sent out quickly to ensure the right people are there to help.
Higher Patient Satisfaction
When patients are seen to quickly and effectively, they can be a little more comfortable and a little happier in an otherwise less than pleasant situation. Treating patients whose needs are being met more quickly and efficiently can make the work environment easier for nurses, doctors, and staff, which can lead to less stress and more satisfaction for these employees.