Healthcare IT Sourcing Tips for Purchasing Nurse Communication Systems

By Rich Staas

Director of Client Services, NPI

March 18, 2016

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Artwork Courtesy of @iStock/Di_Studio

With many compliance initiatives completed or well underway, many of our healthcare clients are now investing in new patient-centric IT solutions. One popular area is nurse communications systems, which eliminate inefficiencies in the nursing role and help to improve the quality of care by allowing nurses to spend more time with patients.

They’re also a very complex purchase that can drive associated device, mobile and EMR costs. When choosing a Nurse Communication System, many things need to be evaluated:

  • Two-way communication between patient and caregiver, and nursing and provider
  • Secure messaging/texting with providers
  • Rapid response and paging
  • Integration with alerts, stats orders and wave form
  • NPI has worked closely with many healthcare organizations to optimize the costs associated with nurse communication systems. Each vendor in the space offers similar functionality; the real issue is understanding how well the solution integrates with the provider’s current EMR as well as the type of devices that will work best for the different roles throughout the organization.

    Based on our experience, NPI recommends healthcare providers take the following steps during a purchase:

    1. Schedule a WLAN assessment early in the process to ensure proper scoping.
    2. Check references of similar sized organizations that use the same EMR system.
    3. Consider scheduling a small pilot with nurses to allow for a more detailed evaluation within the healthcare provider’s environment.
    4. The device options (badges and different smart phones) need to be carefully reviewed. Some vendors may use their own less expensive devices as a competitive advantage.
    5. Ensure a level playing field is established to provide for a proper evaluation, and maintain leverage during price negotiations. Bundled offerings, additional bells and whistles, etc. – strip these away, demand a la carte pricing, and make an apples-to-apples comparison.