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Ascom lands contract for hundreds of smartphones to replace doctors’ pagers

Ascom UK has won a contract to supply more than 300 of its next-generation smartphones to replace pagers at a leading hospital Trust in the north of England. Clinicians believe the move will allow them to spend more time with patients and give better care.

Ascom will deploy 330 of its new Myco 3 smartphone, 45 Myco 2 and its Unite AlertTrac critical messaging software at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, which employs 4,500 staff across Harrogate and Ripon hospitals and the wider community. The contract comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to phase out the use of pagers in the NHS by 2021.

The technology, being deployed across all clinical areas including outpatients, will enable the Trust to send customised alerts and critical messages to clinical and support staff on the move so that they can respond more quickly to emergency calls. It means that the right staff and equipment can be dispatched to each incident.

The Ascom technology will enable access to WebV, the Trust’s own electronic patient record system, and integration with Patientrack, an electronic observations system that will send alerts and crucial clinical information to the Myco devices when patients are showing signs of deterioration. The devices will also be linked to the Trust’s telephone system, so calls can be put straight through to clinicians.

Former paediatrics nurse Robin Pitts, who is the Trust’s clinical IT and change manager said: “We chose Ascom because we need to move away from devices that perform only one task, to technology that improves and speeds up communication.

“One of the key reasons for choosing the Myco 3 devices was that they have a built in barcode scanner. This will support the Trust with its local progression of the national Scan 4 Safety pioneering initiative by enabling staff to scan patients, products and places, making patient care safer and delivering efficiencies.

“A traditional pager simply receives a message and informs the holder that the message has arrived. There is usually no context to the message, just a telephone number to ring. The recipient then must perform many additional steps to understand the reason for the message and to identify and communicate with the sender.

“The Myco devices enable clinicians to speak to each other, message securely, and interact with the electronic patient record, handover and other clinical IT systems. This will save a huge amount of time that is currently wasted.”

Emergency medicine consultant Dr Matt Shepherd agreed: “The Ascom technology will help clinicians communicate within and across clinical teams in a more effective way. It means we won’t waste time waiting for phone calls or people to be available, and the constant interruptions from bleeps. It will also allow us to have richer alerts and escalation processes from our current patient IT systems. 

“I hope this will improve patient care by allowing us to spend more time face to face with patients, and less time looking for information we need or trying to get hold of colleagues.”

Ascom managing director Paul Lawrence said: “We are delighted that a leading NHS Trust like Harrogate is adopting our state-of-the-art technology. Myco smartphones provide a sophisticated alternative to pagers, and Ascom has the capability to integrate them seamlessly with existing hospital technology anywhere in the NHS.”

Resilience has been built into the system to minimize any potential downtime. The Trust has also ordered additional hot-swap batteries and a range of charging stations for the smartphones.

The deployment is supported by a three-year service contract.

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