Views from the hospital floor – giving up pagers

Hospital Pager

The deadline for phasing out Pagers has passed and several Trusts are accelerating their efforts to deploy new and more efficient digital solutions. We spoke to doctors, nurses and IT professionals about their experiences in giving up the pager – to see if there was anything we could learn.

Why Change now?

Dr Tylan, Doctor at the Princess Alexandra Hospital had this to say, “Bleeps and pagers are not serving the purpose they once were as hospitals have gotten busier and there’s a lot more information to share. The biggest issue is that we are only letting someone know we need to contact them, but not why – there’s too much delay and margin for human error there”.

He also felt the frustration of being constantly interrupted:

“When you’re making crucial, often life-saving decisions, being paged and bleeped for minor things that are less of a priority can be really disruptive….The person trying to contact you does not know what situation you’re in and the page/bleep does not specify the seriousness of their need. We needed a better way of doing things”.

Dr Ahmed, GP Trainee had this to add “Bleeps only highlight urgent things and when you don’t answer them they are escalated, and you can never be sure who has attended to it. So when I am on-call I can often be inundated and have to take on multiple priorities at once and sometimes the beeping and paging can be incessant which is extremely stressful.”

Making the change

Joanna Groarke, a Project Manager at Princess Alexandra Hospitals, has been heavily involved in managing the implementation of Alertive, a digital alternative to Pagers. She explains how she went about managing the project, “We began with all non-emergency clinicians first, getting them used to a different way of communicating with Alertive, to stop relying on bleeps. We created a specific category for ‘Deteriorating patient alert’ which covers all conditions which require an urgent Alert to be sent out through the app, as opposed to all other non-emergency communication through messages. We wanted to make sure our clinicians had everything they needed to use it correctly and the uptake of over 1100 active users shows that this has been effective”.

What’s the feedback?

Dr Tylan says “we are now able to contact different doctors and talk about patient updates and make decisions without chasing them manually. When we try to page one doctor and they are unreachable, the whole process starts from scratch each time but now we can message People or Roles through the app and see when they’ve received the message and what they can do, which means response and decision times are much quicker”.

Johnny Wells, Senior Matron in the Emergency Department at NNUH had this to say, “ Using Alertive… I can now see the response to my message or query instantly and if someone is unable to attend to it, we have the option to escalate to the next role to find someone who is available. This not only saves time but helps provide better patient care.”

Users are also consistently providing positive feedback about the ability to sign out of the Alertive application, enabling staff to better appreciate their time away from work and to protect their mental well-being.

At Alertive our number of active users is accelerating rapidly. If you’d like us to share more user feedback please like or share this post.