Mobile Phone Reception Survey

Australian Hospital Staff – please complete this very brief (less than 1 minute) survey to assess mobile phone reception (click here). The results will be used to help drive improved communication systems in the interest of patient safety.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to patient safety is the inability for front line staff to communicate with one another reliably and rapidly.

Paging systems should have been relegated to a back up form of communication decades ago.

If we had guaranteed mobile phone reception in our hospitals the opportunities for applications and excellent communication abound.

Help:
Please let us know what mobile phone coverage is like in your hospital.

Within Australia we will be sure to pass this information on to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

We are looking for leaders from other countries to drive this project too.

Typically if one staff member wants to get in touch with another the most rapid way is to
– contact the switch board,
– wait for the switch board to answer,
– request the pager number of the staff member they aim to contact (it’s not a guarantee the switch board will have it),
– put the phone down & page the staff member,
– hope that the staff member has the pager on them and it is working, and then wait the socially acceptable time (usually a minute or two) before paging them a second time if they haven’t answered. (Hopefully no one else calls on the phone you have paged from – this might lead to an engaged tone if the pagee is trying to call back).
– If there is no answer then phone switch board again and ask for the staff members phone number.
– Call the mobile phone number (if the staff member happens to be within the hospital it is highly unlikely they will receive the phone call as there is often no mobile phone reception). Perhaps leave a message on the mobile phone.
– Wait
– Call the switch board again and request the contact details of another member of that team (hopefully they know where the original staff member is).
– Repeat the process above for the second staff member.

Sometimes contact may not be made at all. Sometimes it is after 20 or 30 minutes of trying – often this affects the tone of the conversation from the off.

4 Comments

  1. Your article is spot on with the current pain points front line staff experience. We are working with teams in hospitals in the UK with our app http://www.medicbleep.com – happy to share more if of interest, get in touch!

    • patientsafe@icloud.com

      Thanks Charlotte. Would love to take a further look. Our first hurdle is to get any reliable mobile phone coverage or wifi access into hospitals. Many operating theatres don’t have this. Any help you can provide in promoting this would be great. I believe the apps that would then be available would provide tremendous avenues for communication. Thanks for keeping in touch.

      • Happy to share more, let me know if setting up a call in the next week works? Yes, reliable mobile phone coverage or wifi is paramount and indeed the first hurdle – Cardiff & Vale UHB teamed up with us and BT to take of this matter – perhaps a good example to strengthen the case (see video on http://medicbleep.com/ for more info). Happy to promote this message alongside your efforts and give more examples like Cardiff & Vale UHB.

  2. If we’re talking about impediments to medical communication I think faxes also deserve a dishonourable mention as being long past due to be retired. They are inefficient, pose a risk of losing patients to follow up when it comes to referrals, and also a risk to patient confidentiality. Not to mention they contribute to the huge waste of ink and paper in hospitals and health services.

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