Hospital consolidates med-surg nursing communications on iPhones

Remember "unified communication," the buzzword from earlier this year that described the consolidation of communication services onto a single device? The phrase may not have caught on like some were suggesting it might, but the concept is gaining in popularity.

As CMIO reports, 600-bed Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, Calif., has consolidated many of its communications applications onto iPhone 3G S smartphones. Mobile communications company Voalté has integrated voice-over-IP calling, patient tracking and code-blue paging for nurses in the medical-surgical unit. Following a current pilot test of the technology, Huntington plans a hospital-wide rollout next year.

"The staff was relieved to be 'relieved' of carrying extra devices and seemed to treat the iPhones with more care and respect than the old plastic VoIP phones," Huntington's director of informatics and registered nurse Ron Rutherford, tells CMIO. "It's a modern, forward-thinking device" that eliminates "nurses being bogged down with devices."

From their iPhones, nurses can make, receive and forward calls over the hospital's telephone system, send text messages to each other and get instant alerts when patients need urgent attention. They also can download other apps that they need, such as medication calculators and digital reference material, from the Apple App Store on iTunes. Training for a pilot test of the technology took just 30 minutes since most participating nurses already knew how to text.

Huntington Hospital did encounter some headaches while setting up the pilot, though. The iPhone 3G devices the hospital initially chose competed with smart IV pumps for bandwidth on the internal Wi-Fi network, leading to some dropped calls, but a switch to iPhone 3G S models and an upgrade to the iOS 4 operating system solved the problem, CMIO reports.

For further details:
- check out this CMIO story