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Smartphone System Improves Patient Care

Staff working in the inpatient units at The Nebraska Medical Center are utilizing the newest technology in smartphones to streamline communication and reduce interruptions while caring for patients.

The new iPhones are equipped with the application Voalte’ (pronounced “volt”), which stands for voice, alarm and text. The iPhones allow the medical staffs to text message each other, causing less disruption and noise for the patients.


iPhone app allows staff to stay in contact with patients and each other

“One of the biggest concerns we heard from nurses is that they were constantly interrupted by a phone call while trying to care for a patient,” said Karen Azevedo, nursing data specialist at The Nebraska Medical Center.

The new phones are also able to send codes faster than the previous Ascom phone system.

“With Ascom, when an alarm was sent, instead of hitting all phones simultaneously, the alarm went from one phone to the next, which takes time,” Azevedo said. “When we tested the alarm on the new iPhones, we instantly received text messages from staff saying they received it. It was pretty slick.”

Andrew Wakin, a registered nurse working in the medical center’s neurological sciences unit, said the phones make it easier for the entire team to care for a patient.

“We have care technicians who work with the nurses,” Wakin said. “They report certain things such as a patient’s blood pressure or blood sugar to the nurse on duty. Under this new system, a care tech can text me the patient’s numbers and I can receive them in another room. They can also alert us via text any patient needs such as pain medication or questions they may have.”

Staff members are assigned a number rather than a specific phone. When a nurse’s shift begins, they can log onto any phone and find their customized features.

“The new system is 100 times better as far as communication goes,” Wakin said. “Communicating is such a big deal to us and communicating a patient’s needs more efficiently leads to better patient care.”

Nurses have been coached on how to educate their patients about their iPhones, to avoid a potential misperception that their nurse is sending personal text messages.

The new phones have been in place since January.