Vocera unveils Smartbadge combining mobile phone and clinical communications features

New device brings a larger screen, integration with more clinical systems, a panic button and do not disturb features.
By Tom Sullivan
09:00 AM
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Vocera Smartbadge

Vocera on Monday announced Smartbadge, a new version of its communications tool that brings a larger screen and access to more clinical data systems as well as other new features.

WHY IT MATTERS

The device now features a touch screen that is 2.4-inches, diagonally, to offer more context for patients and caregivers, according to Vocera CEO Brent Lang.  

“This is not a replacement for a smartphone but it’s big enough to send and receive texts,” Lang said. “It’s still lightweight and wearable so users don’t have to stop what they’re doing, reach in their pocket and pull out a phone.”

Instead, they can communicate via voice with the device and do not need to know a doctor’s contact information to reach her or him, it just takes a name to get connected.

The larger screen also enables the device to show its integration with some 140 clinical systems, which the previous version’s interface was too small to display, Lang added.    

“My take is that the Smartbadge is a timely and thoughtful upgrade to an already unique and differentiating healthcare clinical communications and collaboration device,” said Barry Runyon, vice president analyst at Gartner. “With this new release Vocera has balanced simplicity with increased utility and has moved it from communications device to a collaborative one.”

THE BIGGER TREND

Vocera’s Smartbadge comes as industry analysts such as Black Book and KLAS Research are projecting that existing secure texting technologies are advancing into next-gen communications platforms.

Those include the likes of vendors such as Qlik, TigerConnect, Halo, Cerner, Imprivata, PerfectServe, Patient Safe Solutions, Spok, OnPage, TigerConnect, Telemediq and Voalte, among others.

Black Book found in mid-year 2018 research that 96 percent of hospitals are already investing in clinical communications platforms or planning to so do in the present.

“Secure communication is a rapidly evolving market, with high variability in terms of both customer needs and vendor offerings,” KLAS analysts explained in an October 2018 report. “Whether replacing an existing solution or making a net-new purchase, acute care organizations are largely moving toward broad communication platforms that streamline communication organization-wide. In contrast, ambulatory organizations are focused primarily on HIPAA-compliant messaging.”

OTHER NEW FEATURES

In addition to the touch screen and integrated clinical systems, the Vocera Smartbadge also includes three other new features of note.

First, the device is now IP54 rated (the Ingress Protection measure of protection against water) so the badge can withstand fluids it comes into contact with, Lang said, which also makes it easier to clean with alcohol wipes.

Second, Smartbadge includes a dedicated panic button, which Vocera Chief Nursing Officer Rhonda Collins said clinicians can use in dangerous situations to call for help quickly more easily than the previous badge to get a hold of predefined security team.

Third, nurses now have the ability to put themselves on do not disturb for a designated set of minutes for high risk care delivery activities or when delivering devastating news to patients or family members, to name two reasons why they might want the capability. If they don’t turn it back on themselves, the badge reverts back on.

“We tried to follow the clinical workflow,” Lang said, adding that Smartbadges can be ordered immediately and initial shipments will occur in mid-February.

Vocera will be showing the new device in booth 1747 at HIMSS19, which runs Feb. 11-15, 2019 in Orlando.

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Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com 

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