Health chiefs in the north-east have rolled out new technology which will allow staff to communicate more efficiently.
Previously almost 4,000 employees at 19 NHS Grampian sites used traditional pagers and landline phones to relay vital patient information to each other.
However, clinical and non-clinical staff serving more than 500,000 people across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, have now been given i62 voiceover wifi (VoWiFi) handsets and messaging software – with health board bosses saying the technology will save time and lives as a result.
Clinicians say the devices, which have been developed by software firm Ascom UK, have allowed them to notify colleagues of urgent referrals quickly and led to improvements in the level of patient care.
Dr John Thomson, a consultant gastroenterologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said: “Besides the advantages of using a handheld rather than an old-fashioned ‘bleep’, Ascom’s integration with the health board’s other technology has helped improve the order of workflow and quality of data by enabling immediate notification of urgent inpatient referrals.
“Before Ascom we had just one stream of inpatient referrals – a phone call via pagers at a time that may have not been convenient to the on-call team.
“Now we have three streams – immediately life-threatening, urgent and routine.
“That has led to workflow efficiencies plus improved patient safety and clinical governance of the referrals and subsequent clinical actions.” NHS Grampian’s co-head of IT services Bill Smith added: “We are very happy with the way Ascom was able to integrate with our other systems.
“For example, integration with our nurse call system has saved staff miles of walking every day.
“It allows patient alarms to go straight to the handhelds and nurses know immediately who is calling them rather than looking for a light or buzzer.
“It also passes on alarms from bathrooms and day rooms.
“It benefits patients too as when they call for help, they know it has gone straight to a member of staff within seconds.”