pager

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.

Physician perceptions of the capability of text paging before the
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.