Spectralink Rugged WiFi Handsets Safeguard Nurses From Hazards

Spectralink's "Safe" platform for its rugged WiFi handsets provides automatic alerts when a nurse has fallen or is in danger.

Spectralink, a manufacturer of rugged enterprise handsets, has introduced a set of features integrated into its 8441 and 8453 WiFi handsets to help nurses deal with safety situations in a hospital.

Announced June 3, Spectralink Safe integrates "man-down" emergency features such as a duress/panic button to automatically trigger an alarm and notification if a nurse is in trouble.

Spectralink's handsets act as a safety device for nurses compared with mobile personal emergency response systems (MPERS) such as Numera Libris, which patients use to alert a caregiver when they're in distress.

The Spectralink phones help protect nurses when they might not be able to press an alarm button themselves. Nurses can fit the phones in their scrubs or attach them to their waists.

The device would be particularly useful for nurses who work with criminals in hospitals or jails, or those working in mental health facilities with patients who might be a danger to clinicians. The devices can also detect if a nurse has fallen.

The handset includes a string that nurses can tear off to trigger an alarm call. The phone also triggers an alarm automatically if it senses a nurse is running or if the phone is tilted horizontally or in an unusual position. It can also trigger an alarm after a period of no movement of about 5 minutes.

An alarm could consist of a text message, a phone call or a hallway visual alert. Nurses can cancel the notification within 30 seconds of the alarm being sent, according to Mike Lanciloti, Spectralink's vice president of marketing and product management.

If a phone is located in an unauthorized area such as a supply closet, an alarm can be triggered, Lanciloti told eWEEK.

Spectralink allows hospitals to configure the Spectralink devices to meet their needs as far as clinician safety, he said.

"Nurses have lots of input as far as what constitutes an emergency," Lanciloti said.

The goal of the device is to provide comfort to nurses and allow them to go about their day-to-day jobs, Lanciloti said.

Spectralink previously offered the Safe platform on its Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phones and now has added it to the company's WiFi handsets. The phones are enterprise devices designed to work on the hospital's WiFi network and lack a cellular connection to operate outside a hospital. They can take the place of pagers, according to Lanciloti.

Spectralink Safe is working with software companies such as Amcon Software and Connexall to tie in middleware applications such as health care logging, Lanciloti said.

"Connexall provides a bridge into many types of software applications like logging and tracking applications, which are particularly important for auditing of incidents," he said.

"Part of our goal is to work with software that may already be installed for individual hospitals," he said. The middleware serves as an intermediary between the Spectralink handsets and devices such as pagers and nurse call systems.

"They're acting as a software broker between other devices," he explained.

In addition to the safety features, Spectralink devices incorporate support for Microsoft Lync instant messaging, bar-coding imaging and push-to-talk functionality.

Spectralink's rugged handsets can also withstand drops and falls and survive splashes of water.

The phones are also used in retail, hospitality and manufacturing.