Nurse call systems are nearly ubiquitous across healthcare systems, and for good reason—they alert clinical staff to important needs like water, bathroom and pain management. As technology has introduced smartphones into the clinician’s toolkit, health systems have increasingly moved away from a call bell system for nurse call, instead opting for a program or tool that sends nurse call alerts directly to the appropriate nurse.

This type of integration is something we see frequently on the Technical Solutions Team at Mobile Heartbeat. Our job is to collaborate with the customer to build strong, reliable integrations to enable true interoperability between our clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) platform and the rest of the organization’s technical ecosystem.

Consequently, we have launched hundreds of nurse call integrations at hundreds of different facilities. This blog will shed some light on how the process works and what you should expect from your CC&C vendor when collaborating on a nurse call system integration.

How Does the Integration Work?

In order to provide a reliable and consistent experience that is flexible enough for every facility’s needs, our platform supports nurse call systems based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) as well as on Wireless Communication Transfer Protocol (WCTP). Out of all the APIs in our CURE Connect™ API Program, Inbound Alerting (WCTP) is the most popular. It provides a high degree of flexibility that allows for integration with any number of other organizational tools, without sacrificing quality standards.

The differences between these two protocols are largely in how the alert is received. SIP-based nurse call routes a voice call, which allows a direct line of voice communication between the patient and the nurse. This is different from WCTP, which is a mature, well-established protocol that was designed to support paging alerts.

What’s also notable about our approach to nurse call integration is that we actually set up more than one integration pathway. The primary integration is for basic nurse call functionality like alerting. The secondary functionality is staff assignment information.

Because many hospitals manage staff assignment through their nurse call system, we are able to route that data to our platform, providing additional context beyond traditional nurse call alerts. This data populates our real-time Dynamic Care Team™ functionality so that clinicians are always able to reach the correct care team member.

To set up these integrations, we typically collaborate with the organization’s technology team. Once we have the necessary information about the facility’s infrastructure, including server IP addresses and port numbers, we can begin actually building the integration for them.

Types of Nurse Call Alerts

Patients may use nurse call systems for any number of reasons: Maybe they’re thirsty or uncomfortable, or they’re too weak to get up and use the facilities by themselves. Perhaps they are a fall risk.

My colleagues at Mobile Heartbeat wondered if there was a way to help clinicians distinguish between alerts more quickly. Now, the Technical Solutions Team is able to configure custom alert sounds. By differentiating between alerts this way, clinicians should be able to more easily mobilize in case of a sentinel event, or immediately tell whether an alert is urgent or not.

Reporting on Nurse Call Communications

The final piece of integrating a nurse call system with CC&C is making sure your organization is able to view alert and call logs, as well as any other alerting data, to gather insights about employee technology usage, staff response times, patient engagement and more.

Before a customer’s nurse call integration is launched, the Technical Solutions Team at Mobile Heartbeat helps configure these reports in the admin dashboard, so that they are easily accessible as soon as the application is live.

Once all of this has been configured, the integration is ready for use. But beyond successful go-lives and technology launches, deploying the platform is never the last step for the Technical Solutions Team. We will continue to support your organization by evaluating your ecosystem, identifying any hardware or software that needs updating, and rolling out patches and updates as needed.

The best part of being a Solutions Engineer is that every integration is a unique puzzle that needs to be handled with precision and expertise. Integrating nurse call is no different. We are fortunate at Mobile Heartbeat to have the team and tools in place to guarantee success every time.