All in one place: How to centralise, and ease, hospital communications

Web content editor Ian Bolland caught up with Philip Pate, director of Everbridge EMEA, which provides critical communications to various organisations worldwide, including healthcare organisations. They discuss how its framework can work in the health service and how it differs from other communication formats. 

Providing governance as well as offering the instant messaging that pagers are renowned for is what Everbridge present its service as. It also covers other communication methods including phone calls, text messages and emails. 

The company, however, would like to be able to communicate in an easier way with the NHS. 

Pate explains: “I wish I could talk to the NHS as one because we haven’t been able to have a centralised, or regionalised, decision making basis whereas currently we’re probably managing 230 conversations in parallel with all of the Trusts across the UK.

“If I look at the Trusts, I hear similar stories. There are similar challenges with communicating across their groups and teams.”

Everbridge’s service can be used in an emergency scenario. Using a cardiac arrest as an example, Pate explains a way it can provide a service that allows the flow of an emergency 2222 call to be more efficient by getting to the intended recipient quicker than following the more orthodox pager process. 

“They dial 2222. They tell somebody on switch; ‘I’ve got a cardiac arrest in blue ward second floor,’ and they go; ‘got it,’ they then hang up. 

“They go to the pager system and they send out a page to a crash team. The crash team would either phone the switch back and say; ‘what is it?’ or depending on the patient type they would have someone who records a message and it would page them out.

“But nobody knows whether they’re coming or not and nobody knows whether they’ve got or received the message. 

“The worst case I’ve heard is 40% reliability rate of page alerts getting out, others say theirs is absolutely 100% reliable, very efficient and they really like it. A lot of that tends to sit on how old the building is and how good the radio signal is around there.”

The process may have its familiarities, but the communication is delivered to the person who needs to know, and there are measures in place aimed to ensure that someone of the required skillset is in a position to respond.

The technology has also been developed in order to take into account different scenarios, including a mass casualty and the need to undertake bed checks. 

“We’ve built many, many templates. It means that both switchboard from a 2222 perspective, as well as groups and teams within the hospital can kick off their own communications with each other to invoke actions, tasks and activities people need to do.

“What Everbridge does is take the communication policy. That exists today. Include that, include the central governance and it includes it in a way to manage all of the important communications and critical events through hospitals.”

Pate feels the technology has the capability to be part of the vision outlined by the NHS Long Term Plan. Part of the vision of health secretary Matt Hancock is for the service to become increasingly digitised, so ease of use from new technologies would be an advantage.

Pate summarised, saying: “Our clinical messaging application, if I just handed it to you with zero training and said; ‘find me on there and send me a message and a picture of your laptop’ you would do that without asking a single question because you are so used to working with these kind of things. We’ve kind of got drilled in as we’ve lived and breathed in the messaging-type worlds. It’s intuitive.”

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