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A new communications and productivity solution for skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes has been launched by Rauland, a division of AMETEK, Inc.

The Responder® 5000 advanced and proven ‘nurse call’ system helps facilities and staff keep patients comfortable and safe, while allowing administrators to balance economic priorities with an ability to deliver effective care in a competitive market.

Already a leader in the acute care market, Rauland has extended its capabilities to this under-served market with an elegant new technology platform. Once installed at a facility, Responder 5000 can help keep communications and information flowing efficiently, manage workflows and staff more effectively while improving staff retention, and make a positive impact on the life of residents and staff.

”Rauland is excited to offer a real solution for the nursing homes across North America,” said Jennifer Holden, Vice President-Healthcare Product Strategy. “These facilities haven’t been given the necessary attention over the years by manufacturers, and that needs to change. These facilities know all too well about doing more with less.”

The Responder 5000 platform is built on the latest and greatest technology and wraps it up in a quick-to-see, easy-to-digest software package that staff will love. The reporting package on this ranges from auto emails with whichever frequency the facility wants, to exception reporting on just those resident calls that went unanswered for too long.

Elements of the Responder 5000 solution include audio bathroom stations, resident equipment stations, workflow stations and attractive, programmable corridor lights. The Responder 5000 mobile app easily downloads to smartphones, allowing staff to make the most effective use of their time, and be in communication with residents, while on the move for convenient response and clarification of needs.

The robust Responder 5000 software application allows facilities to modernize the workplace with an uncomplicated solution for communication needs, including activity boards, messaging app, detailed, simple reporting, and resident management. Seamless integrations with other systems are possible to deliver optimal value and reduce redundancies, including solutions for wander management

Greater staff satisfaction achieved with the new solution can mean lower turnover and improved continuity for residents. Reduced noise and reassured residents can translate to a more healing and a comfortable environment.

At one of the initial Responder 5000 system installations at Southridge Healthcare in South Dakota, the system has helped track staff presence by role, and has delivered far more detailed information on the delivery of daily care. The 110-bed long-term and rehabilitative care facility has used the Responder 5000 for solutions in workflow, communication, safety and call response, Rauland said.

“We’ve lowered our average response time to 2 ½ minutes at this point,” said Bessie Hammer, RN/Administrator at Southridge Healthcare. “And, the reporting is much better than what we had previously. It’s much easier to format, and much easier to read.”

Responder 5000 reporting can display data and information as charts and graphs, and reports can be scheduled to be emailed at certain times for easy reference and tracking.

In addition to productivity and satisfaction enhancements, the Responder 5000 solution can help nursing facilities guarantee compliance with Medicare VBP programs and improve their interdepartmental communications — including housekeeping, EVS, and transport.

Responder 5000 also can help enhance residents’ safety by visually identifying fall risks via multiple displays, 2-way communication from resident’s bed and toilet, and by delivering automatic rounding reminders. In addition, the system helps administrators identify over-burdened staff situations for rapid mitigation, and can reassure family members about a resident’s safety and security with continuous tracking of location.

Rauland said a core strength of the new technology is its ability to provide local partners within the community for nearby service, support and installation. These exceptional support services can help optimize the success of the Responder solution as it functions in each customer’s unique environment.

Each SD6 Member Company is excited to deliver the new Rauland Responder 5000 to Skilled Nursing Clients offering timely, onsite clinical design, implementation and application services and support, as well as extensive hands-on Responder training that is continually refreshed based on field experience and ongoing R&D enhancements.



It Is Time to Educate our K-12 Education Systems on Crisis Communication

It is no longer a question of if a crisis will happen in a school but when it will happen. Although the most feared crisis situation is an active shooter situation, many other types of threats to safety of students and faculty may occur. According to, the human threats facing children, teachers and school personnel includes dangerous intruders, gang violence, bomb threats, missing persons as well as accidents and injuries. All of these risks require that school personnel be able to communicate the crisis as effectively and quickly as possible. A crisis situation leaves little time to think through options, so school leaders and teachers must know what to do, when to do it and the best communication method to use.

What worked yesterday in our schools won’t work for the future because the future holds uncertainty, fear and sometimes danger for our most valuable asset in this country, our children. Some of the most common questions that surface when discussing the current state of our schools are around safety. How many times have you asked or heard questions like these:

Are the kids safe?

Are kids able to learn effectively if the number one thing on the minds of the teachers and the students is, “I hope nothing bad happens today.”?

What do we do if something bad happens?

How will we know if there is a crisis somewhere on the campus?

We are all wondering how safe our schools are. Not that safe. Here are some hard numbers:

  • 50 – The number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)
  • 141 – The number of people killed in a mass murder or attempted mass murder at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)
  • 270 – The number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine. (ABC News review of reported cases)
  • 1 – The number of shootings per week, on average, on a school or college campus in 2015. (ABC News review of reported cases)

So now that we have looked at all this doom and gloom, let’s talk about solutions to alleviate the fear that is lurking in the minds of our teachers, parents and school children. Not surprisingly, the best way to battle this underlying fear in our school systems is through education! So where do we go for this education? Where can we find out how to better handle the day-to-day safety concerns as well as the crises that could happen without warning and what are these situations? We need to go where our children go to learn everything — online!

Let’s start with valuable information from the one of the leaders on Crisis Communication and Management. In a crisis school situation, think of ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. ( ALICE protocols and training provide a framework to educate and inform parents, teachers, administration personnel and integrators with the overarching goal of creating a culture of safety and protection within our schools. Some of the powerful suggestions ALICE training provides include the following:

Five Suggestions for Parents to Make to School Administrations

1.  Have a Proactive Rather than Passive Policy

2.  Make Sure the Policy Aligns with Federal Guidelines

3.  Make Sure All Teachers are Trained

4.  Train Students and Practice Regularly

5.  Empower and Authorize Individuals

Another valuable resource is the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, (PASS). ( This organization has a very simple mission, which is to make sure school investments in security are spent on the right solutions. The PASS guidelines are as follows:

1.  Define threats common to schools at each educational level

2.  Offer recommendations on parental and community involvement

3.  Detail a layered security approach that combats common threats and mitigates risks related to active shooters

4.  Provide information for integrators, school administrators, resource officers, and IT staff on technology-focused solutions like video surveillance, duress alarms, and electronic access control

5.  Deliver scalable/tiered measures that administrators can implement based on available resources and local risk levels

PASS also provides integrators with risk assessments and white papers that can be used when working with schools to evaluate and establish the best security protection for their building. PASS has published a Safety and Security Guidelines for K­12 Schools that is invaluable in providing information on not only keeping our children safe but also what to do in the event of a crisis. Technology Integrators play a huge role in making this happen.  Tier four of the PASS Emergency Notification Layer of Safe Schools depends on having a professional integrator to work with who can accomplish baseline needs like live camera streams for law enforcement and administrators, intercom systems that integrate emergency messaging as well as two-way radio systems for communication within the building as well as with emergency personnel.


1. The duress system should have the capability to generate a camera stream with the computer popup message so that responding personnel (law enforcement and school administrators) can see a live view of the area where the duress button was activated.

2. The public address system should be integrated with fire alarms, weather alerts and the duress system to automate emergency messaging that provides information as to what the emergency is, what to do and where to go, and that sends an all clear message when appropriate.

 3. The public address system should be augmented through the use of digital signage that provides emergency information.

 4. The public address system should be integrated with the two-way radio system used by security personnel, law enforcement and firefighters so that calls for emergency response are automated.

5. The two-way communication system should be able to accept calls from emergency personnel outside the building.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has a very good list of “Brief Facts and Tips” on creating a culture of safety and well-being within a school.  It is not surprising that nine out of nineteen of their tips directly or indirectly involve communication, which all resources point to as the key factor in preventing and responding to a crisis…
Some of the NASP recommendations include:

1. Create a safe, supportive school climate (e.g., school-wide behavioral expectations, caring school climate programs, positive interventions and supports, and psychological and counseling services).

2. Encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments, including student participation in safety planning.

3. Reiterate the school rules and request that students report potential problems to school officials.

4. Remind students of the importance of resisting peer pressure to act irresponsibly.

5. Create anonymous reporting systems (e.g., student hot lines, suggestion boxes, and “tell an adult” systems).

6. Control access to the school building (e.g., designated entrance with all other access points locked from the exterior).

7. Monitor school guests.

8. Monitor school parking lots and common areas, such as hallways, cafeterias, and playing fields.

9. Include the presence of school resource officers, security guards, or local police partnerships.

10. Use security systems.

11. Develop crisis plans and provide preparedness training to all staff members.

12. Develop threat-assessment and risk-assessment procedures and teams for conducting the assessments.

13. Hold regular school-preparedness drills (e.g., intruder alerts, weather, fire, lockdown, evacuation).

14. Create school-community partnerships to enhance safety measures for students beyond school property.

15. Cite school safety incident data. Many school districts have local data that support a declining trend in school violence. When possible, citing local data helps families and students feel more at ease.

16. Be a visible, welcoming presence at school, greeting students and parents and visiting classrooms.

17. Conduct an annual review of all school safety policies and procedures to ensure that emerging school safety issues are adequately covered in current school crisis plans and emergency response procedures.

18. Review communication systems within the school district and with community responders. This should also address how and where parents will be informed in the event of an emergency.

19. Highlight violence prevention programs and curricula currently being taught in school. Emphasize the efforts of the school to teach students alternatives to violence including peaceful conflict resolution and positive interpersonal relationship skills.

We cannot overlook what the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recommends in the event of a crisis situation. FEMA identifies Response as the critical action since crisis falls into three categories; it has happened, it is happening or it will happen.

Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.

The internet is rich with information, ideas and solutions on how to work together to make our schools safer. Here is one additional link with information that will be helpful in learning more about educating and protecting our most valuable asset!




Maureen Pajerski is the Executive Vice President Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Rauland Borg Corporation.  Maureen is a well-respected pillar in the nurse call communications industry who has shaped the fabric of the community with the nation’s leading nurse communication product line.

Tell me about yourself, and how you came to work at Rauland?

I started at Rauland in 1982 just after earning my engineering degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  While working at Rauland (a great employee benefit) I earned my MBA from the University of Chicago.

I started in Technical Support, then moved into engineering, writing all the software for an early generation nurse call system; then went on to product management, sales management, VP, etc. to my current position as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.  I joke that my responsibility is to grow sales, market share, and profitably, every year, with happy customers.  My teams cover sales, marketing, technical support, and product management (including future product roadmap).

Being a Woman and an Engineer is very impressive – especially in a male dominated industry. Did you find it challenging, how did you overcome those challenges?

Actually, to be female in a male dominated industry gives you an advantage in a lot of ways. When I’m at meetings and the only female there – I’m remembered.  So, as long as I’m competent it provides leverage.

My view is that a person’s ethnicity or gender is absolutely immaterial.  It’s more about what they are capable of and how they do their job (character and competency).  I’ve adamantly refused to join any ‘groups’ based on gender despite enormous pressure at times.  To me joining a “women in leadership group” is essentially saying we somehow need a segregated club and extra/different support because we are female.  I want the most qualified candidate to get the job and I want everyone to be indifferent as to whether they are female, male, black, white or purple.  So, I deliberately refuse to acknowledge any reason why the fact that I am female should matter in any way. 

Certainly I’ve had my amusing moments in this industry because I’m female. I was the only female in technical support and engineering, so at times there was “hesitancy” that I simply ignored.  I do regret that I didn’t at least keep the letter when Oprah invited me to be in their audience focused on females in male dominated industries…  

We have seen massive pressure and change in the “Call Light” industry over the last 12 months, what is your take on the shift?

We quit calling ourselves a “Call Light” system internally a long time ago because it indicates that we are nothing more than a patient pressing a button and then a nurse hearing a tone and seeing a light.  We are a Clinical Communications Platform.  The EMR functions as “needs to happen” and “has happened” technology.  One that records and provides task oriented information about the care of the patient. 

We are a platform that enables here and now communication. We are defined by our ability to enable immediacy of information between caregivers or from the patient.  The ultimate goal is to provide a single view of the patient in real time.  Rauland’s platform is currently the ONLY platform in a hospital that has access to the patient; wherever they are located.  This enables us to integrate a variety of systems involved in patient care and provide the methodology to create action for the patient.

We also allow for this methodology to occur in its native platform vs. having to add yet another complex system (such as middleware) to provide translation and connection services.   It is imperative that a Clinical Communication Platform interacts with the EMR and other systems in real time to create workflows and automate communication. 

What has Rauland done to create a more collaborative environment between EMR and Clinical Communications?

Rauland, as a platform, currently and will always be about open integration. Creating the ability to share information openly between technologies is our focus – we have been doing it for years. We released All Touch this year to allow for a bi-directional communication between the EMR and our platform.  The goal is to mobilize the status of the patient in real time to the care team and transform documentation into a single button push.

Think of it this way – the patient’s fall status changes throughout their stay. For example, the research points to two things that reduce patient falls: assessments and rounding.  The All Touch platform enables the assessment completed in the EMR to transition the status of the patient to the clinical communication platform so that ALL of the hospital personnel and care team are fully aware.  As a team, we can create a number of workflows based on real time need and workflow. Notifying all involved in the care of the patient with their needed piece of the puzzle at the right moment. 

The second way to reduce falls (and other issues such as pressure ulcers) is consistent hourly rounding. Thru our vendor neutral integrations to RTLS and EMR we can validate location, time, and simplify the documentation of the round at the staff terminal.  All of the information can be recorded directly into the EMR.  Simple, fast, and efficient.

Each patient falls costs a hospital $13,000, on average, in addition to the stress and strain on the patient and their families. The $13,000 does not take into account the hit on the public image/perception of the facility as well.   All Touch provides a way for hospitals to manage and communicate information effectively (and silently using visual indications instead of adding to alarm fatigue) and ensure consistent application/use by all staff to ensure a reduction in falls.  Many studies (e.g. Studer) show that falls can be reduced between 25-65% but only if these practices are CONSISTENTLY applied and used. 

Falls are just one example. We have been working with hospitals on MUSE score notifications where a patient who is potentially deteriorating receives care faster.   We are the real time communication engine that notifies, signals, and creates visibility to the need as soon as the score changes to 4 or 5.  This is lifesaving.

Do you find that the legacy perception of what you started with is challenging your market message?

We are a manufacturer but that doesn’t limit our ability to also be a software platform. It actually is quite powerful.  The Internet of Things is more powerful than any single software platform because we are gathering data from multiple dispirit systems and transforming that information into useable information.  Think about the broadcast industry and how their legacy approach of television has been disrupted by providers like Netflix and Amazon video.  Their benefit is they had market share, trust in the market and reliability.  Their challenge is how do you maintain a solid product to serve the market that has served you so well AND transition to the newly created market seamlessly.  That has been our challenge and Rauland has a vision that leverages the reliability of hardware and the flexibility of software. 

For example, mobile applications, we absolutely see the value in these as part of the clinical communications platform but we also see the need to create a path to allow the devices to mature. We’re seeing a lot of what I call “one off” solutions using mobile apps where they address one specific need or area extremely well but can’t easily be adopted to other areas or staff.  Hospital environments have to deal with a lot of different challenges that are unique to that environment; things such as infection control and wireless interference get exponentially complicated the more devices are being handled and moving between rooms and patients.  Each hospital is also in a different place on the continuum of adoption.  For example we see some hospitals strongly embracing BYOD while others want to use more ‘industrial’ phones such as those provided by Spectralink or Cisco, and still others are extremely dependent on pagers.  We believe that it is the safest, most effective, path to leverage the installed technology as the Internet of Things – to create migration to the future and allow hospitals to use both legacy and new technology.   Keeping a focus on ultimately having a single, cohesive view of the patient and the care required; for ALL the staff involved in providing that care which include not just the doctor and nurses but also the therapists, pharmaceutical services, environmental services, facilities management , etc. and the patient themselves at the center. 

Since the very beginning our mantra has been to have an open integration platform. This is very different then our competition.  We don’t private label RTLS or manufacture handsets – we allow our hospital partners to decide what best of breed applications they want to use.

That belief of open integrations, is it beneficial for the clients or does it create more challenges?

It’s absolutely a benefit to our clients but it’s a major reason why our channel is so valuable. Look, a hospital should have the right to choose the technology that meets their needs most effectively.  We don’t dictate to use one RTLS vendor or one end point communication tool because it serves us better.  We have mobilized on a standard that allows for direct connection to those devices without even the need for a middleware platform.  Not because we don’t think that middleware has value but we see the future where technologies should interact with one another without a middle man – we should not need a translation engine in the future.

An IDN needs to have the ability to standardize end points and RTLS without being forced into a decision based on the limitation of the Call Light.  Clinical Communications platforms must be a platform that is open to the Internet of Things and it’s variability.

Integration of these technologies is not something you can go and get a degree in and Rauland’s focus is being flexible to the hospital’s choice technology or EMR.  This creates an incredibly challenging environment for our VARs – the only way to learn integration is to really have field experience, particularly during this transformative stage, while direct integration standards are still in development.  That’s why our competitors limit what they can and will integrate to.

You mentioned the channel – which some of your competitors have challenged recently as being an Achilles heel – what is your belief on a channel?

It’s no secret that Rauland values the channel. We see our VARs as being one of our greatest assets to the organization.  The channel is what makes the product truly applicable in the hands of the hospital. We don’t treat our VARs like other companies treat VARs.  We treat them as a key part of our organization.  So when I am asked how many technicians we have to service our product nationwide – my response is over 1,000+ CERTIFIED technicians.  We have a direct sales force of over 200 people who are backed up by highly skilled engineering teams and implementation teams.  All of these people are within hours of a hospital not days – not weeks – not get on a plane and see you in a few days – hours.  We serve well because they are serving well. 

We have distributors who have banned together like SD6 to create SHARED best practices – you don’t see that in other industries because they are always worried about client poaching; but not ours.  The whole is better because of the sum of its parts.

Rauland has created the Standards of Excellence program to ensure a consistent level expectation for customer experience across the United States and the world. It has been built by putting the best of the channel together and creating a peer level expectation.  We win together – that’s what makes us great.



Hospital inpatient decline is not a new trend as inpatient utilization in the U.S. has been declining significantly in the last decade. The shift towards utilization of outpatient services can be accredited to a variety of factors such as the boom in higher deductible healthcare plan offerings, advanced technology, and shrinking provider reimbursements.

According to Guy David, Associate Professor of Healthcare Management at the Wharton School of Business, the market for outpatient services has gotten bigger and hospitals, which used to control about 90% of those services now have only 50% of a much larger pie. Both surgical and interventional procedures are moving towards ambulatory surgery centers and outpatient clinics while inpatient visits continue to fall. With the growth of new medical technologies, complex procedures are now seen as minimally invasive due to new anesthesia and pain control techniques that allow patients to return to home more quickly. These are just a few of the factors driving the changes in our current healthcare environment. As a result, there is a greater need than ever for facilities to improve workflow and ensure efficient processes are in place in order to serve more patients.

Surgery Centers and Clinics alike can leverage a variety of technologies in order to decrease patient wait times, improve workflow efficiencies, manage costs, and improve patient satisfaction. In any healthcare setting, finite resources and staff must be well managed in order to provide timely, cost-efficient high quality healthcare. The following are a few areas in which simple technology improvements can greatly increase operational efficiencies and improve patient satisfaction.

RTLS for Clinic Workflow Improvements
Real Time Locating systems can provide a variety of real-time information and data to make improvements across an array of clinics and outpatient settings. When anticipating patient flow, physician time, and the overall patient experience, RTLS is the key to improving your metrics. Ambulatory surgery centers are able to coordinate pre-op procedures via a variety of staff, benchmark time spent in the OR and improve room turnover.

Using RTLS technology specifically for clinics, facilities are able to manage their patient flow by visualizing:

  • –  Current patient location and duration
  • –  Status of patient visit- (needs to be seen by nurse, doctor, sent to x-ray, have blood drawn)
  • –  Room/Location status (Room or OR available, assigned, in need of cleaning)
  • –  Next step in the process for the patient and where the holdups occur

Understanding this data is crucial for facilities seeking to make improvements to their workflow and processes through the automation of events and ability to make adjustments in real time.

Temperature Monitoring for Safeguarding Sensitive Materials
Temperature monitoring can be leveraged to ensure accurate monitoring and alarming for product safety in vaccine and medication storage, blood and tissue storage or other pharmaceutical needs. There are very strict and complex regulations when it comes to the control processes for temperature, humidity and other conditions in the medical industry. Monitoring systems are cost effective to ensure both regulatory compliance and quality control. Time spent by staff manually logging temperatures is inefficient and unreliable as it lacks any proactive means of alerting staff when otherwise unknown problems arise. Additionally, one CDC study estimated that 1-5% of vaccine inventory is wasted through simple, avoidable vaccine storage and handling glitches resulting in thousands of dollars lost. Utilizing temperature sensors in your facility can quickly see an ROI through saved employee time and avoidable losses. Systems can be utilized to report information via email, text messages and automated phone call alerts. More importantly, your facility will maintain compliance with data logged, incident reports and NIST management.

Sound Masking to Improve Patient Privacy and HIPPA Compliance
Many factors jeopardize patient privacy and comfort when it comes to an outpatient clinic setting. Typically walls in medical office rooms are constructed with lightweight building materials or frosted glass doors which don’t effectively protect conversations from being overheard. Although providers take many efforts to ensure HIPPA compliance, one of the most commonly experienced violations of privacy is medical information being overheard by unintended listeners. Sound masking solutions are a very cost effective way to achieve speech privacy in exam rooms and waiting areas by making speech unintelligible to others who may be a short distance or room away. These solutions mask sounds by adding a low-level background sound inside patient exam rooms or waiting rooms. The background sound is optimized to mask human speech from a distance, allowing patients to speak freely without fear of being overheard.

These are just a few of the many solutions that can improve both workflow and patient experiences in a clinic or ambulatory surgery center setting. If your facility is interested in any of these solutions or if you have other unique challenges which you would like to address, contact your local distributor to see how we can help.

About the Author
Amanda Hargis, Healthcare Account Executive, has 4 years’ experience working with South Western Communications in the clinical communications, security and life-safety technology industry. Amanda works with healthcare organizations to achieve workflow efficiency, staff productivity improvements, and outcome-based performance initiatives which lead to increased HCAHPS scores.


Sphere 3


SD6  Members partner with a number of different Best of Breed products to design a solution that best fits our client’s needs.  This means that as their practice they prescribe systems and technologies suited best to serve the specific desires of their clients.

Sphere3 Aperum® is a product offered by all the SD6 members and has a strong ability to influence improvement for the hospitals Patient Experience domain scores.
The following interview is with Rod Corn, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Sphere3.

Rod, thanks for joining us today, could you take a moment to introduce your experience prior to joining Sphere3.

I joined Sphere3 full time in the fall.  I have worked in healthcare for over 37 years primarily in operations Olathe Medical Center.  By Operations I mean that I started with managing all of the ancillary departments such as building services, housekeeping, PT, etc and was promoted to the COO.  I took on everything from IT to Laboratory.  All while transitioning the hospital to a new location.

I wanted to try my hand at the technology world.  Had the opportunity to launch Sprint Healthcare System that supported application development and rollout for Local, Long Distance, and Wireless divisions.  We were early modelers of Telemedicine, Community Health Information Networks, and early patient satisfaction surveys. It was a great experience and a lot of fun doing something exciting.

Direct hospital work called my name so I returned as the COO of the Olathe Health System.  We developed one of the largest master planned healthcare vertically integrated healthcare campuses with over 350 acres that included everything from acute care to a retirement village.  I also managed all of the Health Information Management and negotiated the Cerner contract for meaningful use.   After 12 years I stepped down and did a few different roles with companies developing hospitals and health systems.

Tell me about Patient Experience.

Patient Experience is the cross section of quality and satisfaction.  It is the balance between doing pleasing the patient and serving their needs most appropriately.  Caring for patients is not an easy task – they are not generally happy about being at the hospital, they don’t feel well, and it can be a scary place.  There is a lot going on – sometimes it feels like decisions are made “about” them instead of “with” them.   So we as hospital administrators have to find a methodology to collect their feedback and apply their feedback – all while monitoring the workload they are generating and maintain high levels of safety.

Did you do Leadership Rounds when you worked as a Hospital Administrator?

Yes!  When I was at Olathe, I did leadership rounds on patients on a regular basis.  I would tell my secretary “Well I am going out to do my Forrest Gump box of chocolate rounds, because I never know what I am going to get.”  Which is the truth!  I would walk into a patient room with no understanding of their care, their behaviors, or previous feedback.  It was like walking in blind.  One of the things I appreciate most about the Aperum®  tool is that it gives you a full picture of their behaviors which we gather from Nurse Call Light activity, Bed data, RTLS and even Cardiac monitors.  Plus, it gives a really easy to see and understand visual of the notes associated with each round.

Additionally, when we would receive our patient satisfaction reports from Press Ganey or Healthstream or whoever had the contract at the time – it was several weeks old.   Aperum®  is a real paradigm shift in leadership and management as it is real time and can be applied at the point of care.   Plus, the information is linked to where they were discharged – so they may have been on 3 or 4 different units or rooms and we had to associate the feedback with the final location.

So, was that what attracted you to Sphere3?

Absolutely.  The role that Aperum®  plays in patient satisfaction – most importantly the caregiver satisfaction.  Caregiver Satisfaction is a direct correlation to Patient Satisfaction.  Nursing is the heart of the hospital and they have the most direct patient interaction of all.  Hospitals have a big challenge with recruiting and retaining quality staff and they don’t have a good way to manage their workload effectively.

After seeing Aperum®  – I knew that this application would give real insights for the leadership to understand the true workload.   It’s a game changer – I have worked in the emerging technology space before when I was at Sprint and introducing that into the marketplace is exciting.  I wish I would have had a tool like this when I was leading an organization.

So data is great but how do you make this all work? It seems like a big under taking for a hospital to take on one more “program”.

I agree, I have been in that spot myself during my tenure at Olathe.  We completely understand.  Part of the Sphere3 model is that we provide a team – which we call our Blue Pants Team – that partners with clinical leadership on a regular basis.  That team becomes an extension of the hospital meeting regularly with the staff to review their leadership rounding practices, and doing regular gap analysis.   The software is only part of the Sphere3 story – we really become a part of the hospital team as we work to integrate the data and patient feedback into the culture of the organization.

What about Nurse Call data?  What is the real value behind that from a hospital perspective?

Nurse Call data is a way to document the behaviors of the patient AND the abilities of the care team to manage their care.  It’s a real cornerstone of understanding.  EMR documents based on the observation of the care team but Aperum®  documents based one the actions, requests, and even cardiac alarms of the patient.

Often we hear hospitals talking about the need to know how long it’s taking them to respond to patients – a real service level perspective of the data.  What I find fascinating is that this data really gives a good picture of the patient’s behaviors and presents it in an easy to use mobile view.

So it’s important that the nurse call data is what we call “clean” and free of gaps.  It’s important that the manufacture treats it as important and not just information that can be used to troubleshoot their technology.  The value is in the understanding it provides us about patients.

Who has been the strongest nurse call partner to Sphere3?

We are at our core vendor neutral – we believe that data is data and our job is to find it, normalize it, and record it.  The hospital has to make the choice on what vendor serves their needs best and while we have our opinions based on our history in the consulting space, we are committed to partner to make any system work.

However, by far the Rauland Responder 5 nurse call system has been the strongest integration and best partner.  Rauland has over 60% of the acute care space across the US and their data is very solid.  We are pleased to have been able to partner with the SD6 nationwide to provide Aperum®  to their customers.

Thanks again for your time, is there anything you would like to close with?

We welcome the opportunity to talk to any hospital who would like to see improvement in the patient experience domain scores.  We recently completed an impact study with Centerpoint Medical Center and were able to garner great improvements and show a positive ROI.   Our techniques are proven to show improvement.   Please contact your local SD6 partner to get more information.



How Hospitals can use RTLS technology to cut nursing response times & increase HCAHPS Scores:

Workflow in a hospital needs to be efficient in order to avoid chaos and increase quality of care. By implementing technology to cut nurse’s response times and reduce patient wait times will not only make a nurse’s day go more smoothly, it can dramatically boost a hospitals’ bottom line.

By integrating a Responder 5 nurse call system and a real time locator system (RTLS) using badges or smart phones (as badges) will allow hospitals to connect the “last mile” of patient integration. Meaning, we have connected most areas of the hospital around the EMR, like pharmacy, labs, etc., however, this is the final and the most important piece of that connection, because it affects how the patient and staff interact and communicate at the bedside.

When we can communicate and interact on this level, patient reviews reflect it in the HCAHPS scores, which in turn are a direct correlation to Medicare reimbursements, thus affecting a hospital’s bottom line. When this patient/staff interaction doesn’t work well or breaks down, wait times go up in the ER, potential patients leave without being seen and patient experience goes down from the ER to the acute care setting.

Real Time Locator Systems
Using RTLS for patient locating in the ER allows hospitals to have full visibility into what we call “time to vitals” – that being the amount of time between when the patient begins the process and receives a transponder/locator to when a caregiver enters the exam room and begins vitals. This process can be tracked automatically and used for staffing adjustments/trending/training programs.

Once the patient moves from one room to the next or is admitted to a unit, the RTLS can trigger a notification for environmental services that the room is now vacant and needs to be cleaned and prepped for the next patient. Environmental services can then notify the admissions office once the room is ready via the same system to enable the fastest turnaround, thus speeding a hospital’s ER throughput and “time to vitals.” In doing so, it gives hospitals the best chance of lower wait times and higher HCAHPS scores.

Real time location systems also allow the nurse on call to document staff presence in each room and automatically cancel nurse call lights to help clinicians on the go. Both RTLS and the R5 nurse call system can help speed things up by giving hospitals a real time look of where its critical assets are located for expedited deployment.

Nurse Call Systems
Nurse call systems are the lifeline of communication from the patient to the caregivers’ world. Until now, nurse call systems have always been an intercom like system that was hardwired to complete a set number of tasks, with technology advancing, there are new systems available, such as Rauland’s Responder 5, which is flexible and has a variety of ways to best automate clinical processes.

Integrating a nurse call system allows for real-time status monitoring of the bed exit alarm, head and foot rails, brakes, head-of-bed angle and weight, giving nurses and other caregivers the data they need to cut their response times. Nurse call systems also facilitate automated risk protocol monitoring to help minimize falls, pulmonary and skin complications.

Other Systems to Consider
Although nurse call and RTLS are the two main systems that will help cut nurses response times and patient wait times, implementing other systems, processes and integrations will also lead to a more efficient workflow, as well as increased HCAHPS scores, positively impacting hospitals’ bottom lines.

Integration software is the critical must-have feature. This allows for EMR integration, which is bi-directional digital data integration between nurse call, smart beds, EMR systems and wireless devices that produce a workflow that is more automated around the clinicians’ real workflow and allows them more efficiency at the bedside with their patient.

Implementing a wireless handset system for nurses will directly send nurse calls and bed events, like bed exit alarms, to caregivers ensuring they have a continuous pulse on patient needs. Another great time saver is allowing the patient to reach the right caregiver at the right time. For example, if a patient needs water, they can push the water button and the CNA is called to respond, not the RN, however if the pain button is pushed, the RN is notified and possibly the pharmacy, depending on the unit workflow.

Not only does this allow for reduced falls, location of staff to reduce time spent finding the right caregiver, accurate and time stamped documentation of staff time with patients, enhanced coordination between nursing and other departments like pharmacy, environmental services, case managers, etc., enhanced emergency department throughput and data transparency to enable enhanced workflow reporting, it also increases patient satisfaction and HACAHPS scores.

One of the most important processes that hospitals can put into place is reporting. By connecting this “last mile” hospitals are providing a transparency into gathering data that will allow them to provide their executive team with an accurate overview of workflow and also allow them to use reports that enable caregiver efficiency, provide answers to frequent questions and enhance the patient experience, in result impacting their bottom line.

About the Author
Edward Baird, Director of Sales, has more than 20 years of experience in the communication, clinical informatics, security and life-safety technology industry. Beacon Communications, LLC is an industry leader in providing full-service crucial communications and security systems to the healthcare, government municipality, education and commercial real estate markets throughout Colorado and many neighboring states.

Real Time Health System


Patient Experience is the cross section between patient satisfaction and patient safety. The role of managing the overall experience falls to everyone in the C suite and is a true result of the organizations culture. Hospitals are challenged beyond simply healing patients to creating an environment that satisfies them as well. The new ACO model coupled with other regulatory drivers such as HCAHPS and related quality oversight has changed the way that hospitals manage care of the patients. A culture that is foundationally enabled by data that is converted to knowledge and understanding in real time will transform the patient experience.

The conversion of data to knowledge and understanding creates an environment that is known as the Real Time Health System (RTHS). This concept, created by Gartner Research, is an industry vision to fundamentally change how health delivery organizations (HDO) deliver care to their patients. One of the core aspects of the RTHS is the patient generated data captured by the nurse call system and the technologies that interact with it.

Why? The data created and contained within the nurse call light system is a very clear representation of patient’s behaviors, reactions, and interactions with staff. In many hospitals it is only used as a tool to identify service levels and responsiveness with simple printable reports.   The discerning CIO and CMIO have identified that it along with other technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT) provide critical insights into the patient experience beyond any other tool in the hospital.   These insights can be applied into Gartner’s concept of the Real Time Health System in the following manner:

  1. Patient behavioral analysis when aligned with the EMR will be critical for the CMIO to manifest understating of how perceptive measures are creating patient response.
  2. Patient behavioral analysis will become a critical factor in the CNIOs efforts to create clinical operational models for better care design.
  3. Patient behavioral analysis will in the future become part of the population health analysis. The methods used to identify the pattern of need and pattern of risk will be applied to models in long term care, home care, and patient engagement.[1]

These insights leverage on the abilities of the nurse call light system to act as a hub of communications and data aggregation of not only the patients’ needs but also the interactions of the care team. Modernization of the legacy concept of the nurse call system as a light and tone and glorified telephone to the bedside should be replaced with an understanding that the “system” is critical to enable workflow and record the patient’s behaviors. While technological advances from the standard hardware centric model are important for the advancement of the industry, the health delivery organization will not fully transcend the current state until it can be shown a greater value to change then to status quo.

If workflows that enable staff to better care for patients can be achieved using a legacy mindset that does not require transition from simple to use hardware then the hospital will not be motivated to adapt to a different model.  Motivations will include simplified interaction for the patients, enhanced contextual understanding for the care team, and analytics that align with the concept of the real time health system.

The final point is critical. Hospital CIOs need to enable the leadership of their hospitals with tools that align with the Real Time Health System strategy.   As hospital move into technology evaluations should consider the following concepts provided in the Gartners most recent document.[2]

The Real Time Health System provides leadership with situational awareness.

Situational Awareness allows leadership to make more informed decisions on things that matter to patient experience such as workload or capacity management and patient behavioral analysis. It pulls information from a number of areas to paint a picture of the current state. On a micro level it provides contexts to individual patient needs, and on a macro level provides oversight to shift resources on demand.

Nurse Call light systems are most often utilized simply in a on demand basis. As patients have a need they push a button to request assistance. As hospitals adapat to the model of the RTHS they will being to identify if their current technology can be used in a more holistic capacity to provide situational awareness. Thus the data being aggregated by the nurse call light system must be structured in a way that allows for modeling.

The Real Time Health System is dependent upon solutions being mobile.           

Hospitals have a pace unlike any industry and one that is traditionally inconsistent with demand at times of need. Hospital CIOS must provide not only mobility solutions that allow for on demand connection between patient and care team but one that provides analytics at the point of care. Thus allowing for the hospital to do clinical modeling in real time to realign staff needs, and be more prescriptive in care models for patients.

The HCAHPS focused hospital should desire to have multiple perspectives of the patients’ needs automated from their call light, recorded from their perceptions, and aligned with their medical record.   All of which should be easily accessible in a mobile solution.

The Real Time Health System leverages off of a technologies ability to enhance collaboration.

Collaboration extends the reach of the care team to enable perspective of multiple providers to enhance the ability of an individual to deliver care.   The hospital focused on patient experience should seek technologies that provide visual ability of the care team to identify pace and needs of the patient.

This thought process enables “patients and providers to share in real time” but should not be limited to the acute care visit as the modern care team will be more than those focused on the current state.

Enhanced collaboration is beyond “communication” and should be extended to location and sensing. Location provides not only context of whom and when but location as a specific aspect provides insight into “how much” and “how often”.

As the enthusiasm for this model heightens the Nurse Call Light manufactures need to identify methodologies to transition the standard thought process of communication being their greatest value to the data they manage being the greatest value. The greater their ability to align with the concept of the Real Time Health System – the greater their ability to succeed in enabling a more enhanced patient experience.

By Kourtney Govro

CEO of Sphere3

Kourtney Govro is recognized as an industry leading expert on nurse call light system application, clinical communications design models and patient generated data analytics. Her company Sphere3, a Gartner Cool Vendor and winner of the Fierce Healthcare Innovation awards for analytics in 2015, is the leading provider of patient experience management software.

[1] Drivers for HDO CIO/CTO decisions surrounding Call Light Systems May 1, 2015

[2] Industry Vision: The Real Time Health System 11 May 2015 by Barry Runyon

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Interoperability has been a growing buzzword in healthcare in recent years, but what it means and how it works for clinical organizations is still relatively unknown. Interoperability refers to the ability of two or more technology systems to exchange and process data that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital operations.

Interoperability equips key healthcare decision makers with the information they need to continually measure and mange their operations, document protocol, mitigate risk, and provides staff and physicians with pertinent data that allows them to make intelligent assessments on how to optimize workflow and improve customer satisfaction. The end result is an enhanced delivery of quality patient care, and a thorough understanding of how certain processes and procedures function conjointly.

There are three levels of information interoperability that let healthcare facilities measure the success of their systems: foundational, structural, and semantic.


Interoperability at the foundational level is establishing the basic ability for two or more systems to exchange data. According to HIMMS, this level “allows data exchange from one information technology system to be received by another and does not require the ability for the receiving information technology system to interpret the data.” An example of foundational interoperability would be sending laboratory results from one facility to another. The information would be correct and delivered securely, but would require manual data entry and interpretation.

If we think of interoperability in terms of a three tiered pyramid, foundational interoperability would be the bottom level of information sharing. The data is being exchanged, but the processing and interpretation of the information between the systems has not been established.


Structural interoperability takes the automation of data sharing between systems to the next level. HIMMS explains that structural interoperability “defines the syntax of the data exchange. It ensures that data exchanges between information technology systems can be interpreted at the data field level.” This means if two clinics were using similar software applications, they could quickly and efficiently share patient information by auto-populating the system with pertinent medical history, test results, and findings to facilitate referrals between facilities. The structural level of interoperability helps automate the delivery and presentation of information between systems to improve both cost and labor efficiency, and reduce human error.


At the foundational and structural level, we are able to see the benefits of integrating systems and providers to effectively communicate information with one another. But there are glaring challenges in regards to the redundancy, security, accuracy and speed in which these systems share data. The true value of interoperability in the healthcare environment lies at the highest level, which is semantic interoperability.

At it’s core, semantic interoperability is the ability for two or more systems to effectively exchange, interpret and use data and information. To revisit our previous example through semantic lenses, a clinic would be able to send lab results to another facility, the system could then verify the contents, identify the records, match a patient, advise the appropriate physician, schedule alert notifications, and save any and all information regarding the case including appointments, updates, findings, prescriptions etc.


There are very obvious benefits to healthcare IT networks with advancements in interoperability. But IO is something that should be carefully considered and integrated in all facets of a healthcare organization. From access control to mass notification alarm systems to real-time location solutions – interoperability ensures that the use of innovative technology has the ability to work in tandem, and provide tangible data that influence positive changes in how a staff and their facility function.

Studies have shown that 80 percent of providers reported electronic data exchanges increase their practice’s efficiency, and 89 percent of providers said electronic data exchanges improve the patient’s quality of care. If you are interested in finding out more about how the interoperability of security and communication solutions can help drive noticeable change in your practice, contact one of our SD6 Alliance members and we will help identify areas where you can enhance your technology solutions.

Additional Resource: “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise” is a not for profit organization dedicated to furthering Interoperability in healthcare.

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Successful patient engagement strategies use the right combination of innovative technology and organizational services. Hospitals find most success when they integrate solutions that operate efficiently with other systems already established in their facilities, such as electronic health records (EHR), workflow technology, and nurse call systems.

Technology is quickly changing the way healthcare providers are approaching patient engagement. Many are turning to online solutions to make scheduling appointments and receiving pertinent personal medical information, prescriptions, and test results quicker and more efficient. Pre-visit check-ins also helps expedite the information gathering process between provider and patient. By making a patient’s health records and appointments more readily accessible online, studies have shown that these advanced solutions reduce wait times, no-show rates, and patient satisfaction.

Increasingly, physicians and caregivers are learning the importance of educating their patients about treatment outside the hospital room, and explaining how new off-site monitoring programs can help them track their health remotely. Patients that realize how lifestyle and treatment decisions affect their health can help improve compliance and disease management. The increased interest in personalizing one’s own healthcare is making capturing medical data and moving it to electronic health records easier and more reliable, and keeps the patient always informed.

Depending on the objectives and your hospital’s goals for patient engagement, your healthcare practice will most likely want to utilize metrics such as the number of patients using the remote monitoring programs, number of e-mails collected, and patient satisfaction with their personal devices. This large collection of “big data” is becoming increasingly important as hospitals are making strides in understanding how to better use this information to improve the quality of their patient care. It’s a worthwhile goal as health data can help us reduce re-admittance rates, better understand illnesses, improve outcomes, personalize medicine, predict outbreaks, and eliminate pandemics.

There’s no shortage of new technologies designed to engage patients. Wearable devices, patient portals, health metrics tracking apps, and other innovations are empowering patients to take ownership of their care. If your hospital is looking to find patient engagement solutions that seamlessly integrate and communicate with your current systems, or are trying to establish a foundation or culture of patient engagement with patient management systems like nurse call or real-time location services, contact [company name]. We are the trusted source for communication, physical security and life safety solutions to meet the needs of healthcare providers across the country. We utilize a consultative approach to conduct an in-depth needs analysis, enabling our customers to fulfill their patient engagement vision and objectives.