The American Journal of Surgery published this paper on the benefits of an alphanumeric paging system on physician's work environment (full text $30). It is not surprise that improved communications was beneficial.
intervention were high and did not differ significantly
postintervention. For nursing staff, postintervention perceptions of
the text-paging system were significantly more positive than
preintervention, especially with regard to perceived improvements in
patient care (54.1% versus 81.6%, P < .05). Residents
paging logs reflected significantly decreased interruptions to patient
care after the intervention (28.2% versus 46.9%, P < .05), with less pages requiring a call back (100% versus 73.6%, P < .05).
It's always nice to see quantitative data demonstrating the value of improved communications. Doing a study like this with an old and obsolete technology like pagers seems, well, a waste. No one's ever studied the effectiveness of pager based communications in a hospital before?
Perhaps this is just my pager bias showing. Pagers are an open loop system - there is nothing that ensures that a page was sent and received by the pager, let alone acknowledged by the user. This is a poor technology platform for communications that is intended to improve patient safety. A study like this measuring the impact of new more capable technologies, like wireless voice-over-IP (VoIP) would seem much more relevant. Perhaps the investigators could repeat their study with Vocera badges or a VoIP phone with graphics (for waveforms) to see if there is an increase in effectiveness with the newer technologies.