By Alok Jain, CEO and Co-Founder of Quicklert and Kevin Brown, CSO and Co-Founder of Quicklert |  

As we continue to find ourselves working through this global pandemic that is COVID-19, some interesting developments are occurring. Most of us are familiar with the term disruptive technology. Simply stated, a disruptive technology is an innovation that dramatically improves the way an organization operates by eliminating older systems in favor of newer ones that are unquestionably superior. In somewhat of an irony, this pandemic has proven to be a disruptive environment that is ushering in new technologies that – previously – were considered desirable but not necessary. A great example of this is in the area of nurse-call systems in hospitals.

Typically, nurse call systems – as far as patients are concerned – have consisted of a red button, often attached to a wire or cord at the bedside. Whenever the patient needs assistance, that patient pushes the button. Seconds later – hopefully – the voice of a nurse comes out of a nearby speaker and – voila! – the nurse and patient are communicating.

While this was innovative and advanced back in 1980 or 1990, today this technology which is still widely used throughout hospitals is almost laughably a step into the past for today’s patients. Think about this for a moment: Today, your 5-year-old grandchild knows how to grab mom or dad’s mobile phone, touch the right application, hit the right button, and start a video call. Video visual communications is a very personal and interactive way for human beings to communicate. We do this every day. Yet, in those most urgent of medical situations where a patient is likely already nervous in these times often unable to even get visitors from their own family, the hospital-provided means of communication is the equivalent of a decades-old audio intercom system.

That is changing today.

A year or two ago, using video as a primary form of communications was a wish-list item for hospitals. Today, because of the pandemic, it is becoming a necessity – one that greatly enhances the patient care that can be provided, enhances the patient experience from the patient’s point of view, and frees up time for nurses and staff.

Today’s existing nurse call system, by design, is a reactive and responsive solution for nurses. A patient calls for help, a nurse responds. Yes, a nurse can proactively ask how a patient is doing, but if that patient is asleep, for example, then this is not an optimum solution. Regardless of whether the patient or nurse initiates the call, today’s nurse call systems are a conversation that harkens back to how we interacted with each other 40 years ago.

Video changes all of this. For example, Video Nurse Calling is a component in Quicklert’s Connected Healthcare Platform for hospitals today. It is a solution that is by design a visual, face-to-face experience. It replicates the typical conversation many of us have at home or at work – one touches a button, and instead of a faceless voice in a box, they are suddenly looking at the familiar face of a nurse. When nurses want to look in on a patient, they can do this easily without interrupting the patient simply by touching an icon. And as any of us who have ever been patients in a room for more than a couple of days will tell you, nothing – absolutely nothing – is less personal and more intrusive than a static-laden voice in the room at 2am in the morning.

So, it is easy for us to imagine video communications at the bedside of a patient between patient and nurse. But consider the idea that once any video nurse call solution is placed at the bedside others can take advantage of it as well. The patient is not limited to communicating with the nurse. The patient can use this personalized video tablet to communicate with their doctor. Even more important in today’s pandemic, the patient can communicate with friends and family at home and even be entertained and informed in a very personalized manner.

Perhaps this realization, more than any other, elevates the possibilities of a video nurse-call solution.  A video system such as Quicklert can connect the patient to the nurse, the doctor, specialist and even friends and family back home, while providing bedside entertainment and an environment where the hospital can push information to the patient. That information may be today’s menu, a survey, discharge instructions, ins short, almost anything. And using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the experience can be truly personalized, while giving the staff immediate alerts and visual confirmation for data on patient falls and other medical situations.

These are all challenges that hospitals solve with multiple technologies today at multiple times the cost.

Imagine replacing your home phone, camera, photo album, portable stereo and all your music, book of maps, newspapers, calculators, and games with a single device – which we all did in the last decade with smart mobile phones.

Now imagine hospitals doing the equivalent exercise, replacing antiquated nurse call systems, televisions, surveillance cameras, white boards, external nurse contracts, menus, informational pamphlets, and other digital signage with a video solution at bedside and at nursing stations. Imagine that this is visual, multi-lingual, personal and dramatically less expensive than the multiple solutions being replaced.

Take nurse sitting, as an example. Many hospitals are forced to provide some level of one-to-one nurse sitting for select patients. In other words, one nurse is assigned to one patient, and these nurses stay in their patients’ rooms for their entire shift. When the shift is over, another nurse takes their place. For hospitals desperately looking for ways to cut costs, evolving nurse-sitting from a one-to-one to one-to-many radio, can potentially saving millions of dollars without compromising patient care.

Quicklert provides this virtual nurse sitting environment with the same solution that hospitals will use for nurse video call and for remote patient monitoring. It also is the same solution they will use with Covid-related or other infectious patients, reducing staff exposure and saving PPE supply costs. With this, a hospital IT organization can deploy, manage, and train a single solution.

This combination of enhanced care and reduced expenses requires, thinking holistically. Video nurse call is an example of how updating the patient-nurse experience also allows consolidation of other solutions and budgets into smarter solutions with reduced recurring costs.

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