Shhh! Why Silent Mobile Notification Is the Future of Hospital Communication Systems

by | May 2, 2018

collaborative-hospital-team-coordinationHospital noise has a long history. “All hurry and bustle is peculiarly painful to the sick,” wrote Florence Nightingale in her Notes on Nursing in 1859. She worried that noise would disrupt the sleep necessary to a patient’s recovery and create stress that could contribute to further agitation or weakness.

Your hospital may be particularly cacophonous. A 2005 Johns Hopkins University study revealed that since 1960, decibel levels in hospitals increased an average of 26 percent in the daytime, and 43 percent during the night. And yet the average nighttime decibel level in the study was 60 decibels — double the recommended sleeping level of 30. Some hospitals had nighttime decibel levels over 100, like a chainsaw.

High noise levels harm the patient experience. Noise levels over 55 decibels at night can disrupt sleep and increase risk of heart disease. As you might expect, patients who experience noisy hospital environments and sleep disruption have lower satisfaction. In fact, US hospitals receive the lowest patient satisfaction for noise. Fixing the noise problem should improve patient satisfaction scores.

Reduce noise levels by replacing overhead pages with silent mobile notification

Excess sound in a hospital comes from many sources, but one of the easiest to change is the hospital staff notification system. Overhead pages contribute to a high volume of noise: in a hospital unit in the Johns Hopkins Study, overhead pages occurred at least once every five minutes. Rebuilding hospital acoustics may take months or years. However, shifting away from overhead codes to silent mobile notifications can improve noise levels instantly.

Silent hospital paging delivered directly to an individual’s mobile device provides an added benefit: it ensures that the intended recipient or recipients can receive it from any location. A physician who has stepped outside to the parking lot for some air or who is caught in a loud conversation may miss an overhead page, but a message on a personal mobile device is less likely to be missed.

Reducing the number of pages and codes called over a loudspeaker also means that when an overhead page is called, people are more likely to pay attention. Alarm fatigue is a well-documented phenomenon that limits the capacity of hospital staff to identify and prioritize the various codes and alarms in their environment. In fact, caregivers say that their ability to provide care is diminished by the stress and confusion of excess noise. A quieter environment that allows clinicians to focus on immediate priorities can improve the well-being of both patients and staff.

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Increase accuracy and response time with a clinical communication and collaboration platform

Calling alerts and hospital emergency codes on a clinical communication and collaboration platform such as LiveProcess provides benefits beyond decibel reduction. For example, consider a typical call for “Code Blue, Room 815.” Announced on the overhead pager, the call may disrupt everyone within hearing, but details may be lost: the room number may be unclear – is it eight fifty or eight fifteen? And the intended recipient may not hear it. Or, a physician’s name may be mispronounced and go unheard.

With silent mobile notification for hospital communication, a message via text can be viewed immediately and in full detail. Codes can be templated to standardize message format to minimize errors. With two-way communication, a clinical communication and collaboration platform can allow a physician to acknowledge the code with one touch — so the sender knows they got the message. If a message has multiple recipients, the sender can see who among his intended recipients has viewed the message. This status reduces the need for repeat messages, which saves time and tension, and provides accountability. Status is logged, so that, in the future, any problems with response time or accuracy can be reviewed and addressed.

[For more on how one hospital uses LiveProcess for alerts, codes and physician paging, read this hospital case study.]

Florence Nightingale would surely appreciate the potential of quiet hospital communication systems to save lives and to minimize the sounds of “hurry and bustle” that distract from patient care.

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Next steps

Learn more about how LiveProcess Communicator enhances notifications for alerts and emergency codes.

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terry-zysk-100x100Terry Zysk, CEO of LiveProcess, has more than two decades of experience in leading organizations that provide innovative solutions to the healthcare industry.