Hospitals are inherently noisy environments. Foot traffic, bedside monitors, pagers, alarms, and PA system announcements all contribute to an environment that can negatively affect patient recovery due to disrupted sleep and general unease. The same noise level also creates a stressful work environment for clinicians, and there must be solutions that improve patient outcomes and help alleviate the pressure on frontline hospital staff.

Karryn Panoutsopoulos, the National Clinical Mobility Practice Lead at Connected Health works with leading hospitals to help reduce noise pollution by implementing solutions that make a difference. Her approach to the issue considers both patient outcomes and the need for effective hospital communication.

“Deploying technology solutions that ensure alarms and messages are only delivered to their intended audience without disturbing patients is critical. For example, hospital management should consider platforms that replace overhead PA system announcements with direct messaging to hospital staff. The technology needs to be more sophisticated than just a pocket pager, as these often ring with the same tone, becoming another burden”.

“Direct messaging ensures the right information is sent to the right people. It’s important to be able to customise tones, announcements, and the volume of audible alerts depending on the time of day or area of the hospital, all while ensuring messages will not be missed in a sea of loudspeaker announcements. This also reduces the potential for a page to be missed by a specialist or for potential miscommunication through broken PA systems.”

Direct communication for emergencies can also help to minimise the stress and disruption to patients. Specific alerts can be sent directly to staff devices, ensuring correct and important information is communicated without risking alarm overload. Similarly, research indicates that hospital staff are susceptible to noise-induced stress leading to exhaustion and irritability. One of the leading causes of this is ‘alarm fatigue’, with data suggesting between 72 and 99 per cent of clinical alarms are false alarms1.

This is another benefit of mobile technology devices within a healthcare setting. Direct communication as opposed to information that is blasted out across the hospital floor represents a huge improvement in the way healthcare facilities operate.

Panoutsopoulos said, “Frontline care workers in noisy hospital environments are at risk of experiencing ‘alarm fatigue’, becoming desensitised to important alarms, resulting in longer response times for emergencies. When these workers receive customised notifications directly to a mobile device, they know the nature of the alarm before even removing the device from their pocket and are less likely to miss or ignore them. This also helps speed up response times”.

“One of the most effective tools in the communications arsenal today is a smart device running relevant, purpose-built, healthcare applications. Leveraging these in a hospital environment can help ensure that staff can effectively communicate with each other about patients, emergencies, and hospital updates. Leveraging this technology for emergencies and sending alerts to devices in place of audible alarms ensures that staff are on-hand immediately without inciting panic among patients due to incessant alarms and beeps.”

The deployment of smart mobile devices that solve numerous challenges is the future of healthcare in Australia. Digital solutions are revolutionising the way care is delivered, while also ensuring clinicians are working efficiently, effectively, and with the minimum risk of burnout. The hospital of tomorrow is a more tranquil place, where patients can rest, and the noise level is turned down.

For more information about how Connected Health help healthcare organisations achieve a quiet hospital environment or to book a demo, contact us today.

1 PSQH, ‘Battling Alarm Fatigue for Improved Patient Care and Safety, 2020.