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District trials wearable communication technology

Digital device speeds up response times and enhances patient care.

SydneyConnect Video: Our District is trialling wearable communication technology

The trial of a hands-free wearable communication device has sped up staff response times and enhanced patient care in two hospitals in Sydney Local Health District.

During the trial at Concord and RPA hospitals, doctors and nurses have attached the device, called a Vocera Badge, to their scrubs and used the technology to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other in real-time.

"We found the Vocera Badge was helping staff save vital time," said Aaron Jones, the District's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Information Officer, who has been leading the trial.

"Pre-trial baseline data indicated it could take up to 70 seconds for staff to reach the relevant team member — mostly because they had to take layers of personal protective equipment off before leaving wards.

"After we implemented the Vocera Badge trial, it took just 15 seconds. As the Vocera Badge works through PPE, staff could access additional support while remaining at the patient's bedside. Especially in these critical care areas, seconds save lives," he said.

Initially trialled in COVID-19 wards and Intensive Care Units, the trial has now been expanded to the hospitals' Emergency Departments, where it's hoped it'll streamline the triage process and fast-track patients into critical care or infection controlled wards as needed.

"It's fantastic because it gives us new ways of connecting and communicating with others. We would usually rely on telephones, but Vocera lets us communicate from the patient's bedside at a time we really don't want to be stepping away to make or take a phone call," Dr Phil Visser, the Director of Concord Hospital's Emergency Department said.

"It also allows our team to directly speak to a colleague about patient care rather than waiting for them to pick up a phone at the other end. It's changing the way we connect and work with our team and others," Dr Visser said.

The District's Chief Information Officer Richard Taggart said technology like the Vocera Badge will help clinicians deliver on the District's mission of excellence in health and healthcare for all. 

"It makes clinician's work more efficient and enjoyable, and easier to do what they do best — which is concentrate on patient and family-centred care," he said.