Reduce Hospital Noise via Direct Communication to Improve HCAHPS Scores

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While noise in a hospital may seem a simple nuisance, it can affect patients' health and satisfaction, which in turn can impact hospitals' reimbursement. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey includes a question directly addressing the level of noise in the area around the patient. Under value-based purchasing, hospitals' reimbursement will be partly based on HCAHPS scores.

Brent Lang explains how direct communication can reduce hospital noise.Brent Lang, president and COO of mobile communications provider Vocera, explains how technologies that enable direct communication can help hospitals reduce noise and improve patient satisfaction.


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Hospital noise: Where does it come from?
There are many sources of noise in a hospital, from the chime of an elevator opening to an alarm on a medical device. One of the loudest parts of the hospital is the overhead paging system, which hospitals have traditionally relied on to communicate with providers. People yelling in the hall is another big cause of hospital noise. Many of these sources — alarms, overhead paging, yelling — involve communication. Mr. Lang suggests hospitals employ technology solutions that enable direct communication to eliminate these sources of noise.

Communication: What is the quietest method?

Communicating directly with only the intended listener or group instead of indirectly communicating through a broadcast system can reduce noise in the hospital. One way to directly communicate is to use mobile technology, such as a personal Smartphone or other mobile device, which allows an individual to speak to another person immediately, without having to find a phone.

"The goal is to streamline the communication process so the care provider can get direct access to colleagues," Mr. Lang says.

For example, Mr. Lang says one hospital that has a stroke team implemented a stroke alert, such that only members of the stroke team are notified of an incoming stroke patient. By localizing communication to only those people involved, hospitals can reduce excess noise for patients and improve their satisfaction.

Similarly, hospitals can configure alarms to communicate, via text message, an alert or voice alarm, with the nurse responsible for that alarm on any given shift.

Hospitals that replace loud, broadcast communication systems with direct communication can make the environment quieter, which improves patient satisfaction and boosts the hospitals' HCAHPS scores.

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