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Radio vs. Alerting Software for Hospitals

ESO Staff

A busy, bustling hospital is not a quiet place. Physicians, nurses, and EMTs alike deal with a significant amount of noise on a daily basis. In fact, a recent study showed that peak hospital noise levels registered at an average 80.3 dB – nearly as loud as a chainsaw or electric sander, and twice as loud as WHO recommended thresholds.

From monitors to ringing phones to beeping pagers, these noise levels have been correlated to longer healing times for patients, more difficulty sleeping and recovering, and increased stress levels. For health care professionals, constant noise not only leads to alert fatigue but can contribute to medical errors and job burnout.

To improve hospital communications, hospitals have turned to both traditional and more advanced technologies, especially in the emergency department. While some choose the time-tested option of two-way radios, others implement alerting software to automate much of the communication.

Benefits of Radio

Hospitals looking for a quick and affordable means of communication between staff often turn to two-way radios – sometimes known as “walkie-talkies” – to aid in communication. With simple and easy-to-use technology, radio use has a small learning curve; most people know how to use them or be trained in minutes.

Since two-way radios allow only one function at a time – either receiving or sending the signal – you don’t risk interrupting the other person. Information conveyed must be concise and crisp; radios are not ideal for constant communication. Unfortunately, a drawback of radios is that the communication is broadcast out loud; others standing nearby may easily hear the private patient information, which could be a HIPAA violation.

That said, radios do tend to work well even in older buildings, where cell phone signals may fail. This adds a level of confidence that you won’t be missing important communications and that all staff members can be located regardless of their location in the building. Additionally, most radios offer numerous channels, making it easy to dedicate frequencies for specific purposes, like communication with EMS.

Benefits of Alerting Software

More and more hospitals are beginning to implement clinical alerting software to aid in their communications. Digital alerts can be sent directly to hospital staff, securely and silently, conveying urgent information without adding noise levels.

Instead of paging staff over an intercom system, staff can receive automated messages giving them patient updates and other key information. This cuts down on the chances of important alerts being lost in the noise. Outside of the hospital, staff can receive alerts via text so on-call physicians can respond with their ETA and get updates en-route to the hospital.Additionally, top alerting software is completely secure and HIPAA compliant; bystanders cannot accidentally overhear patient information.

Alerting software can be especially beneficial when it comes to the handshake between EMS and ED. For example, ESO Alerting software allows EMS and first responders to send alerts from EMS and first responders, helping hospital staff prepare rooms, prioritize cases, and activate specialty teams. It also allows users to share photos, videos, and messages; track time stamps on a STEMI, stroke, or trauma event; and edit case summaries in real-time based on updates.

Alerting software typically offers data flow into hospital EMR/EHR tools to reduce communication errors when accepting patients into the hospital ED. Since these digital records are part of your database, you can more easily review prehospital care information as well as more detailed demographics. All of this data can help in numerous ways, from billing to community outreach to QI/QA projects.

Cutting Through the Noise

Whether you’re focusing on better patient care through fewer missed alerts, or looking for the best ways to lower overall hospital noise, improving communication is a key element. Reducing distractions and making the most of technology can translate into better outcomes and more efficient operations along the entire spectrum of care.

Download the one-page overview of ESO Alerting software now.

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