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Innovative Device Resembles Star Trek Communicators, Helps Hospital Patients To More Rapidly Contact Their Nurse


It looks like something out of Star Trek.

Nurses, clinicians and technicians and patients tap a silver button on a small communicator device around their necks and speak a command. In a nanosecond their command is picked up.

"Vocera is as close as you can get to Star Trek communicators. It does almost everything that the Star Trek ones did - except beam you up," said Natasha Farvan, the senior information system project leader, referring to the little triangular devices on the lapels of the crew from the TV show, Star Trek.

The Vocera Communications System is a breakthrough wireless platform that provides hands-free, voice communication throughout any networked building. Vocera badges are a 4-inch by 1-inch black, plastic, lightweight wireless devices that work like hands-free cell phones. Other  features include pager, overhead paging system, built-in speaker, recorder, voice-activated two-way communication system, e-mailer, caller ID and text messaging and equipment tracking. The system features a voice interface called Genie, which talks to badge users and responds to their commands. For a Vocera user, communication is as easy as pushing a button and saying, "Call Dr. Jones."  You don't have to know Dr. Jones' phone number. Clinicians also may broadcast a call to a group, or activate an instant conference call with others who are wearing the Vocera badge. Genie, the voice interface, can even understand  accents and can help users correctly pronounce someone's name.

The hospital's operating room staff have been using Vocera for the past several weeks. By the end of June there will be 400 active Vocera badges in use.

"The only downside to Vocera  is that hospital staff who don't have them say,"I want one now.' They're a godsend. We love what they do, and how easy they are to use," said Retty Casey, B.S.N., R.N., M.P.A:H.A., director of Clinical Facilities Development and the Value Analysis Program. Her team spent two years researching the technology and its return on investment. The project reaches fruition with the opening of the Peter O. Kohler Pavilion to patients Monday, June 26.
Vocera adds a human touch for patients and allows nurses to prioritize the urgency of patient calls.

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