Ageing Pagers Costing NHS Hospitals Millions

CommonTimeNHS trusts spend £6.6m a year on 'blunt instruments' for communications, when smartphones could replace pagers, save millions of pounds and deliver crucial information to the frontline, a new report from CommonTime has found. Millions of pounds is being spent on outdated and even broken pager devices every year in NHS hospitals, whilst doctors are calling for more modern means of frontline communication, a new report has revealed.

The report, which carried out a detailed examination into pager usage across 138 NHS trusts in England, found that NHS hospitals currently use more than 10% of all pagers in circulation worldwide, despite a sharp global decline in wider usage of the decades old technology.

Limitations of the devices and the fact that key suppliers have been abandoning the market, were highlighted in the report, which stated the health service could save more than £2.7m of the direct costs associated with pagers every year, by moving their function to alternative and more capable devices such as smartphones. The NHS was said to face direct costs of more than £6m per year from pagers.

Substantial additional savings for the NHS could also be released from network maintenance costs associated with pagers, and from more efficient ways of working in hospitals that could be enabled by more modern mobile devices.

Pagers were criticised for being unable to support vital two-way communication between NHS professionals, despite the fact that they still remain a dominant method of emergency communication, especially in acute hospitals.

However, some digitally progressive trusts were already found to be moving away from pagers, even though 97.8% of hospitals still relied on the devices.

Pagers in the NHS: The Cost of Ageing Comms Channels in Healthcare was produced based on research across acute, community, and ambulance trusts, that was commissioned by mobile technology company CommonTime. It revealed that more digitally mature trusts with more funds, had less reliance on pagers, and that three of the trusts examined were found to not use pagers at all.

Commenting in the report, Rowan Pritchard Jones, a consultant plastic reconstructive surgeon and chief clinical information officer at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Pagers represent 20th Century technology and are a blunt instrument for communication. Apart from a 'fast bleep' doctors have no sense of the urgency or priority of a call, end up writing down messages that can be lost, and often find a telephone number engaged when they do answer it.

"There has to be a more refined, accountable, reliable way to communicate. Doubtless a task the smartphone could cope with provided we are assured of the wifi or signal coverage in modern day hospitals."

Dr Johan Waktare, a consultant cardiologist, who serves as director and health informatics consultant at ITEH, also commented in the report: "Pagers are a technology that have very much stood still. There is always a strong case for having a resilient way of being able to contact people, classically for crash alerts. But, for many of the other tasks that pager technology is used for, they're not very efficient and clinical time is wasted. Pagers are so much part of the wallpaper in the NHS, nobody is really thinking about how we could best meet our workflow needs in 2017."

Warning that key supplier Vodafone has now left the pager market, the report also theorised that a reliance on inefficient and limited methods of communication, like pagers, could be a driver in NHS staff turning to shadow IT, and discussing patients through consumer technologies like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Steve Carvell, head of public sector at CommonTime, the organisation which authored the report, said: "Ever more resilient forms of mobile technology are in demand by staff on the frontline of the NHS to allow them to quickly understand and communicate pressing needs of individual patients in their care.

"On the one hand a lack of robust and effective communication systems is driving staff towards alternative, non-approved technologies. But more than this, at a time of greater pressure than ever, healthcare professionals do not have time to waste manually chasing after bleeps - they need instant detail in the palms of their hands that can help them to make informed decisions on clinical priorities. Pagers are no longer up to the job of serving an increasingly pressured NHS environment."

A copy of the full report, Pagers in the NHS: The Cost of Ageing Comms Channels in Healthcare, can be found here.

About CommonTime
CommonTime is a market leader in cross platform digital solutions. We work with major organisations around the world to deliver practical innovations that meet today's commercial challenges. Backed by over 20 years of experience, our versatile applications are vital to mobilising enterprise & government processes.

Most Popular Now

Leading Health Systems Sign On to Delive…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, has announced the expanding adoption of its Population Health Management solutions with health systems across the globe, including...

Pflegetiger Adds Digital Health Ventures…

Since summer 2016, Pflegetiger has been developing its innovative concept of neighborhood care, a concept designed to make in-home care attractive for care professionals again. The company's revolutionary approach -...

Can Virtual Reality be Used to Manage Pa…

Virtual reality has emerged into popular culture with an ever-widening array of applications including clinical use in a pediatric healthcare center. Children undergo necessary yet painful and distressing medical procedures...

Free iPhone App could Guide MS Research…

For some diseases, a simple blood test is all that's needed to estimate severity or confirm a diagnosis. Not so for multiple sclerosis. No single lab test can tell doctors...

Using Social Media Big Data to Combat Pr…

Researchers at Dartmouth, Stanford University, and IBM Research, conducted a critical review of existing literature to determine whether social media big data can be used to understand communication and behavioral...

B.Braun Accelerator Call for Innovative …

B. Braun is one of the world's leading providers and manufacturers of healthcare solutions today. The company employs more than 60,000 employees in 64 countries and is looking for European...

'NHS Cyber Security Batsignal' Peer-to-P…

The two chairs of the largest independent communities of NHS digital leaders will launch the 'NHS Cyber Security Batsignal', a new peer-to-peer cyber security warning alerting system, at the first...

Giving Rookie Dads the Online Info they …

Expectant and new parents often turn to the internet for parenting prep, but it turns out that dads often don't seem to find the information they say they need about...

Artificial Intelligence to Evaluate Brai…

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Hospital (HUH), Finland, have developed software based on machine learning, which can independently interpret EEG signals from a premature infant...

FDA Approves Pill with Sensor that Digit…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug in the U.S. with a digital ingestion tracking system. Abilify MyCite (aripiprazole tablets with sensor) has an ingestible sensor...

Philips Partners with Dutch Health Insur…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced that it is collaborating with Dutch health insurer ONVZ to provide an industry first, strategic cooperation...