Hospital staff wear comms on their sleeve

Blacktown Hospital emergency services department has rolled out a "push to talk" service enabling emergency services staff to instantly contact fellow staff through a wearable button.

The Vocera communications system uses a voice controlled badge which emergency services staff wear and which is linked to an in-house server. The system also connects to the existing PABX so staff can make and receive calls through the public telephone network.

Previously Blacktown Hospital, in Sydney's western suburbs, used a mix of mobile phones, pagers and foot soldiers to locate staff.

Professor Steven Boyages, chief executive of the Sydney West Area Health Services, said the hospital faced patient increases and limited resources in the emergency department. He said the department deals with about 90 patients a day.

The new system saved an estimated 6000 hours a year for staff with a potential cost saving of more than $105,000 a year.

"Nurses and doctors found they were much more efficient in treating patients, because they could more easily locate members of staff, increasing their productivity and boosting overall patient care," Boyages said.

Dr Michael Hession, director of emergency medicine at Blacktown Hospital, said the use of wireless technology has helped staff improve patient care.

"We reduced individual time lag, sped up the patient flow through the department and reduced staff frustration levels," Hession said.

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