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Unified communications may give nurses two hours back each day for patient care

IBM claims its unified communications offerings can save time looking for others and responding to calls in a clinical environment. If its claims are true, that might mean two more hours per day for patient care.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

One of the challenges of being a floor nurse is the running around, trying to find people. A hospital is a big facility, and even though the reporting and management structure is defined in such a way to operate in smaller floors or wards, there's still a tremendous amount of time spent by all of us, chasing down all the rest of us.

For example, if a tech needs to find me when I'm in a patient's room, he might have a rough idea of where I am, but he also might have to pop from room to room to find me. Pagers have had their uses, smartphones have been tried, and some of us even have to wear Star Trek-type commbadges around our necks all day. But there are few centralized systems that really deal with the problem systematically.

With this challenge in mind, a set of statistics from IBM caught my attention. You can watch their promotional video below, but here are the key stats:

  • Reduce time looking for others by 45 percent

  • Reduce time to respond to calls by 61 percent

  • Gain two hours for patient care.

To be fair, these statistics are presented in a marketing video. But if they can be supported, the statistics are impressive. The biggest problem nurses have is finding enough time for patient care (we have a lot of other bureaucratic responsibilities that take a lot of time).

If we can really get back two hours per day for patient care, that equates to a huge job in quality of care (and comfort and satisfaction of the patients). It might even reduce costs, because more time to care for patients also reduces the chance for medical errors, and gives us more time to carefully assess and monitor patients throughout their care.

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