'Star Trek' communicators free up doctors' time

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has saved the equivalent of 4,000 emergency department staff hours per year with an internal Star Trek-style wireless voice communicator.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has saved the equivalent of 4,000 emergency department staff hours per year with an internal Star Trek-style wireless voice communicator.

The network, which is supplied by Vocera and is accessed by a pendant-like device, has been installed at the Royal Victoria Hospital Emergency Department in December 2007.

The department's doctors, nurses, ward clerks, bed managers and medical secretaries all use the devices to contact other staff by stating their name or function. As a result, medical professionals at the hospital are spending less time trying to find a phone line or leaving the premises to call up their peers.

In a study of the roll out conducted by Kinetic Consulting, 40 per cent of doctors and 60 per cent of nurses reported fewer interruptions while providing care for patients.

In a statement, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said: "This study has allowed us to evaluate where we need to develop our communications. The advantage for us is having a system in place to continue the progression and patients are seeing better service as a result. Through the use of technology our staff can do their jobs more efficiently."

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