Beyond the pull cord: New app enhances in-patient communication

Traditionally, hospital patients have relied on pull cords to summon nurses, but this system is riddled with inefficiencies.

Nurses responding to a pull cord are not aware of the patient’s needs until they enter the room, often resulting in unnecessary repeated trips. 

This system is especially inefficient because hospitals feature many private rooms spanning vast areas. 

Also, some patients are hesitant to use the pull cord in case they disturb healthcare staff over what they perceive to be minor concerns.

To address these challenges digital health firm DNV Imatis and the Western Norway Regional Health Authority have partnered to launch a new patient-nurse communication application.

With just a few taps, patients can communicate their needs immediately to the responsible nurse through the digital solution, reducing unnecessary tasks and enhancing patient care.

The app provides a nuanced notification system, which allows clinical staff to better prioritise tasks by differentiating between critical notifications via the pull cord and less urgent ones through the app. 

To assuage patient concerns about their requests going unnoticed, the app provides confirmation that the request has been registered and seen by healthcare staff. This is particularly valuable for patients in single rooms. 

This is also beneficial for staff attending to patients in infection rooms. Instead of the lengthy process of donning protective gear, fetching a glass of water, then redressing to deliver it and undressing afterwards, they can communicate more efficiently. 

The app can be used on either smartphones or tablets and supports personalised settings for visually impaired users to navigate the app on their devices.

As well as serving as a communication tool, the app allows patients to access details about their hospital stay – from identifying their responsible nurse to checking upcoming appointments. 

This transparency empowers patients, giving them a sense of control during their hospital stay, and eases the workload on nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Prototypes of the app have been developed in collaboration with staff and inpatients at the Women’s Clinic in Bergen, Norway where they were extensively tested among a diverse age range of patients. 

Input was also sought from committees, reference groups, and youth council representatives, who gave predominantly positive feedback about the app’s user-friendliness and functionality. 

The first rollout of the solution will be at the Women’s Clinic this autumn, with subsequent implementations in new hospital buildings under the Western Norway Region Health Authority, including the new Stavanger University Hospital set to open in 2024.

This solution aims to create a paradigm shift in patient-caregiver communication that ensures the patient’s voice is heard, while allowing the assessment of clinical staff to remain paramount in care decisions.

Randi Gundersen, who managed the in-patient communication project at Western Norway Regional Health Authority, said: “We are continuously assessing the functionality of the app and are evaluating opportunities to add more content that both relieves staff and improves the patient’s stay. This is just the beginning.”

For more information about the app see here.

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