The past few years have seen frontline workers across the healthcare industry work harder than ever to care for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extended shifts, shortened breaks, and missed annual leave have led to burnout becoming categorised as a work-related injury. Recent studies found that 42 per cent of Australian nurses were less willing to work than they had been prior to the outbreak, as they wrestled with their obligation to work given the risk of infecting themselves and their families.[1]

Communication is the key to fostering effective teamwork that lets staff manage the tasks allocated to them. Finding a communication option that addresses the needs of healthcare professions is critical to not only improve the staff experience, but also to keep nurses and patients safe.

Hands-free, wearable communication devices are changing the game for Australian healthcare organisations.

The impact of hands-free technology

The introduction of hands-free, wearable technology, like the Vocera Badge and Smartbadge, has been instrumental in tackling the demanding impacts of the pandemic.

The pandemic has meant that fewer nurses are available to treat an increasing patient load. Vocera Communications continues to provide technology solutions that save valuable time for nurses making them more effective in providing quality of care.

Hands-free communication devices that can be used under personal protective equipment (PPE) lets healthcare professionals stay connected, even while in isolation and in the middle of complex tasks. The addition of multidevice-compatible software also ensures that all devices are contactable at a moment’s notice.

Hands-free technology also provides greater safety options for nurses on the floor, helping reduce risk of infection, letting them call for assistance using simple voice commands, and providing a panic button in case of unexpected patient or visitor violence.

These technology solutions empower nurses to manage their own schedules and give them control over communications. With better mobile devices, necessary tasks like patient-family communication become a streamlined part of their daily workflow, and not a disruption or distraction.

Sydney Local Health District uses hands-free wearables to respond to the Delta COVID-19 outbreak

Sydney Local Health District needed better communication options at the onset of the Delta COVID-19 outbreak in late 2021. Staff were reduced to holding up handwritten notes to windows to communicate across clean zones while experiencing an influx of patients. This was clearly inefficient and could put patient care at risk.

Aaron Jones, chief nursing and midwifery information officer, Sydney Local Heath District, said, “Despite the high number of nurses on call at the time, our teams found themselves isolated and unable to call for help in critical moments. It was clear that something had to change to keep our staff protected and our patients cared for.”

The organisation implemented hands-free Vocera devices and hosted in-person training programs to help teams understand the benefits of new wearable technology. Care team members saw results quickly. According to Aaron Jones, prior to implementing wearables, 72 per cent of workers found their go-to method of communication among the team were physical symbols like a thumbs-up, waving through windows, or knocking on glass. Once the wearable technology was implemented, this physical signalling dropped to just 16 per cent, with the remaining 84 per cent of communications coming through the Vocera technology.

The staff’s own perception of communication also improved dramatically, with 64 per cent of nurses citing the technology as ‘very easy’ to use after the initial trial.

Rhonda Collins, chief nursing officer, Vocera, said, “The success seen across the Sydney Local Health District is not only promising but lifesaving. Having appropriate communication devices like hands-free wearables can help protect the well-being and safety of patients and staff..”

To learn more about the impact of hands-free communication in the healthcare system, watch the full webinar here or contact a Connected Health representative today.