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ACT Health uses ALE solution to empower a safer workplace

Wed, 15th Feb 2023

Canberra Hospital provides general and tertiary acute public healthcare for Australia's NSW and ACT regions. Providing care to more than 500,000 people, it is the largest public hospital in the area.

The hospital provides a number of services to patients, including acute inpatient and day services, outpatient services, women's and children's services, paediatrics and pathology.

Canberra Hospital is also home to the Adult Mental Health Unit (AMHU), which is focused on providing a safe and supportive environment for patients with acute mental illness or disorder.

Being a healthcare provider, effective communication is essential for the hospital to run. Providing safe care for patients needs a quick and responsive system to ensure the best service possible. 

However, at ACT Health, smart devices were only operating as phones. There was also no emergency duress alarm that provided an accurate geographic location when needed. This meant juggling multiple devices when it was time to respond to a call.

To solve this issue, ACT Health required an open standards solution that could easily be integrated and interconnected across locations with the existing infrastructure. ACT Health works with Spectralink smart medical devices, which are medical device certified and fit within the clinical stack around the delivery of critical alarms.

ACT Health partnered with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprises (ALE) to work on a solution. The solution needed to provide messaging and duress alarms, as well as location-based services, triggered by the alarm button on the Spectralink device.

In order to respond to incidents quickly, Location-based services are fundamental. For example, using ALE messaging software, mission-critical messages could be sent with unique audio and unique tones, so staff know if it's an alarm code they need to respond to even before they take the device out of their pocket.

Additionally, the command centre sees when the call has been acknowledged and if someone is responding. The introduction of the Spectralink device also means staff only require one device, rather than the previous system of juggling multiple.

After a successful proof of concept (POC), the solution was adopted for duress situations at Mental Health Ward 12B at Canberra Hospital. The ward is a Low Dependency Unit (LDU) with ten beds, allowing for a small-scale introduction.

To provide paging across the hospital, the IQ Messenger Smart app was used. IQ Messenger is the engine for innovative use cases, extending staff safety with Duress/Lone Worker functions – including a major hub setup at the Australian Institute of Sport.

In combination with the IQ Messenger Smart App, the Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess Stellar AP1201BG access point was used, which works using, among other features, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) asset tracking to help provide a pure-Wi-Fi location solution.

As for the results of ACT Health using this technology for Mental Health Ward 12B, they speak for themselves.

"Since we've moved to Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and some of the solutions they're providing for us such as messaging and duress, we've really seen it refine and get much easier, so clinicians now simply have one device to go to that can do everything they need," says Peter O'Halloran, Chief Information Officer, ACT Health.

The introduction and integration of ALE's solution with Spectralink smart medical devices enabled alarm messaging enriched with location information.

Looking at the financial benefits, the location services helped to save time and costs otherwise spent looking for staff, patients or equipment. The use of a single smart medical device also resulted in reduced PPE and ICT costs because enhanced equipment durability meant devices were not having to be replaced if they were accidentally dropped or fell into water.

However, the most important benefits that have come out of this solution are were to the user experience. Better staff support and better patient care through improved staff communications has enabled a much safer and more organised work environment.

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