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Death to the pager

March 7, 2011

iMedicalApps: The end of the pager is coming and not a moment too soon

Great article from iMedicalApps on a new communications system from Avaya that would eliminate the need for pagers and improve the efficiency of in-hospital communications.

Many companies are starting to come up with comprehensive communications systems that would eliminate the need for doctors and other health care providers to carry a pager. I think this is a key technological development for improving communication, mostly because it has the potential to eliminate the time wasted in “returning a page.”

Key elements that companies need to incorporate:

  • Use with existing devices. All it takes is seeing one resident walking around with 4 or 5 pagers on their belt to understand there must be a more effecient way. Connect the various “pagers” to a single smartphone number. This eliminates the “belt ‘o pagers” and provides the user with all the other tools smartphones provide at their fingertips.
  • VoIP integration. Many hospitals have cellular deadspots. However, many hospitals have also deployed WiFi throughout their campus. Instead of relying on connection to a cellular tower–and the consequent usage of the individual’s personal cell plan minutes–connect everything via VoIP over these WiFi networks. This will increase reliability (the hospital’s IT staff can identify deadzones and quickly cover them with a new WiFi antenna) and usability.
  • Easy directory lookup. Since some of the users will be connected to multiple “pagers” at any given time and some of these “pagers” switch from person to person with each shift, the system needs to have a rock-solid directory that allows you contact the right person every time. I think this one is tough, but smarter people than I are working away at it (hopefully).

Several companies are developing these integrated communications systems. I’m looking forward to seeing what innovations they come up with. My hope is that by the time I’m an intern (2 years) nobody will be carrying around pagers. This requires not only development of some new, innovative solutions but providing these new services at low cost and easy integration.

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