Vocera launches Smartbadge to revolutionize care team communication: Key thoughts from President and CEO Brent Lang

Vocera, a provider of clinical communication and workflow solutions, has launched the Vocera Smartbadge. The wearable communication device combines smartphone usability with hands-free technology, allowing providers to receive information without disrupting workflow.

"Vocera has been a pioneer in voice communication with the introduction of the Vocera Badge, which revolutionized the care team's ability to find each other quickly," said CEO Brent Lang. "Over time, hospital environments have become more reliant on clinical systems as the source of additional information, whether that be from the EHR, bed monitors or patient monitors; more actions are occurring in the hospital that are generated from systems rather than from one person to another. Therefore, we needed to augment the capabilities of our wearable badge to enhance the delivery of clinical information to clinicians."

The Smartbadge includes several updated features, including a larger screen and text message capabilities. Here, Mr. Lang discusses the new technology and where Vocera is headed in the future.

Question: What impact do you expect the Vocera Smartbadge to have on healthcare delivery?

Brent Lang: With this launch, we are redefining healthcare communications again by combining voice and secure text messaging while maintaining the simplicity of a wearable device. The biggest feature upgrade is the increased screen size, so providers can receive information about patients, alarms, alerts and send text messages, without giving up the aspects of our original Badge that make us unique. We initially developed a lightweight wearable device that has become part of the persona of the healthcare provider. Because the device is hands-free, clinicians don't have to stop interactions with patients when alerts come in and can be easily updated on the information needed to do their jobs.

One of the big challenges healthcare providers face is that as more systems are implemented that generate alerts, care team members are experiencing alarm fatigue. Nurses are bombarded with different alerts, but our platform provides intelligence on what alarms need to be delivered to which people at the right time and on the right device. This new Smartbadge makes it easier to receive information in a manageable way that won't disrupt daily care.

Q: What trends in the healthcare space are driving continued innovation in provider communication?

BL: There are many trends in healthcare affecting quality of care and workflow. The focus of our design innovations is on solving for the Quadruple Aim; our mission is to improve quality outcomes, make the care experience more patient centric, drive down costs by increasing operational efficiency, and improve provider resiliency by enabling caregivers with tools to assist them in care delivery. The importance of quality, cost and patient-centered care are well-known, but we are also focused on improving caregiver resiliency, which is front and center of many C-suite discussions today.

Due to clinician burnout, nurses and physicians are leaving the profession. They feel overwhelmed. We set out to find a way to simplify and improve the lives of healthcare providers. In the Smartbadge, we have built in a dedicated 'panic' button on the side of the device that care team members can press if they need help. Healthcare is one of the most dangerous industries to work in, and we want to provide a fast and easy way for people to get help in emergency situations. While the original Badge has a panic future, it isn't as easily accessible. We think this new, designated button will help nurses and others feel safer knowing they can get help with a simple touch of a button.

Q: What has been the most significant feedback you received?

BL: Vocera is a very customer-driven organization. We really try to listen to our customers, find out their needs, and address their pain points. Because we have shipped more than a million Vocera Badges, we have a tremendous number of users to provide feedback on what is working and what isn't. The first thing that jumped out at us was that customers didn't want us to do anything to damage the experience we already created. We have a hands-free, lightweight device, and customers didn't want us to disrupt that.

Beyond that, with the evolution of texting as well as additional alerts and alarms, we realized the Badge needed a larger screen. We developed a full-color, 2.4-inch touchscreen with a keyboard to receive and send messages, and view alerts. We needed some of the capabilities of smart phones while meeting the weight and size requirements our customers need.

It was also important for our customers to have a ruggedized device for the healthcare environment. Therefore, the badge is certified to meet stringent water resistant and cleanability standards. The device is sealed from the outside and designed to prevent liquid and fluids from entering the device.

Q: What should we expect from Vocera in the future?

BL: We think about innovation in the context of the patient's journey, which often is a series of interruptions and delays that lead to frustrations. Many of those delays are caused by the lack of information being delivered to the right person at the right point of care. As we build our communication platform, we are examining opportunities with the Internet of Things and virtual voice assistance to minimize interruptions in care.

The Smartbadge helps create a friction-free, seamless care environment where clinical workflows are simplified, and patients are able to go through their journeys without delays and frustrations that are often synonymous with healthcare, and by doing so, we hope to enable Real-Time Health Systems.

See a video of Smartbadge here.

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