NHS trials hands free comms

Staff at a Nottinghamshire NHS hospital trust are pioneering a wireless communications system accessed through a voice-controlled badge worn on their clothing.

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Staff at a Nottinghamshire NHS hospital trust are pioneering a wireless communications system accessed through a voice-controlled badge worn on their clothing.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals foundation trust is using the BT Managed Vocera system, which operates over a BT wireless local area network and uses mobile Voice over Internet Protocol technology.

Vocera allows users to speak to each other instantly, anywhere in the hospital through the voice-controlled badges, which weigh less than two ounces. Using the device is quicker than using a traditional phone and does not require users to remember or look up phone numbers. It can also be used to simultaneously contact a group of staff with a shared job function.

Users simply say the name, department or role of the person they would like to speak to. The system automatically connects the user to the person specified and lets them speak as if using a traditional phone.

Trust chief executive Jeffrey Worrall said: “In accident and emergency we have been able to move patients more quickly into admitting departments, using the badge to communicate between A&E and site co-ordination staff. As well as transforming patient care, this technology can also improve the way we provide our services and help boost efficiency.”

The trust began piloting the system with 75 users in the accident and emergency, radiology and medical admissions departments at Kings Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, after its own research found that staff took an average of six and a half minutes to get hold of colleagues using telephones or pagers. The Vocera system allows staff to contact each other within seconds.

Around 1,200 hospital workers – including administrative staff, porters, doctors and nurses – are now using the system, which is gradually being rolled out across the trust.

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