Sarasota Memorial Hospital uses new iPhone technology to help patients and nurses

By Diana Manos
11:00 AM

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System officials say an iPhone platform at one hospital has helped give nurses more time with patients, increasing patient and nurse satisfaction.

The 806-bed Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Florida's second largest acute care public hospital, began using iPhones this summer. Nurses could send and receive text messages, make voice calls and receive critical care alarms, providing faster response to patient needs, hospital executives said.

Trey Lauderdale, vice president of innovation for Sarasota-based Voalté, said the hospital has agreed to a new collaboration that will consolidate all three functions – text messaging, voice calls and alarms – on one versatile iPhone platform.

Because studies have shown that nurses often spend up to 70 percent of their shift dealing with, finding or coordinating information – time that would be better spent taking care of patients, Denis Baker, Sarasota Memorial's chief information officer, said he agreed to pilot Voalté's new technology, the Voalté One solution.

"We are committed to providing our patients with the very best healthcare," Baker said. "We harness technology to improve care and increase efficiency. The Voalté application had components we felt would assist in providing a better experience for our patients."

The hospital went live with the solution last June, and Baker said hospital staff worked closely with the Voalté team to gauge the success of the application, including how easily the nurses adapted to carrying and using iPhones.

A special feature of the application enabled nurses to provide direct feedback to Voalté, allowing the company to fine-tune the product for the needs of individual departments and users.

"The nurses have embraced the technology and have given us great feedback," said P.J. Floyd, associate chief nursing officer at Sarasota Memorial. "The Voalté One makes them better able to respond quickly to patient's needs."

Floyd said the new technology helped reduce the hospital's need for paging by 78 percent. He said the hospital rooms and halls are "a lot quieter."

"Even patients have noticed the reduction of overhead paging," he said. "One patient asked, 'Is everything OK?' because it was so quiet."

The Voalté One application is being expanded to other units of Sarasota Memorial. Two other U.S. hospitals have signed on to implement Voalté One on the iPhone, Lauderdale said.

According to system executives, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is the only hospital in the southwest Florida region that has ranked repeatedly among U.S. News and World Report's America's 50 Best Hospitals, and has been named one of "America's Safest Hospitals" by It has also been awarded Magnet Nursing Services Recognition – the nation's highest honor for excellence in nursing. 

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