Avaya Upgrades Mobile Checkout System to Support iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry

At the HIMSS11 conference, Avaya announced a new version of its Mobile Device Checkout application compatible with the iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry to boost communication in hospitals.

Enterprise communication technology specialist Avaya has unveiled a third version of its Mobile Device Checkout software to allow hospital workers to personalize their wireless devices with a barcode ID using the BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad.

Mobile Device Checkout 3.0 is a software application that works with a bar-code reader kiosk to allow nurses to personalize a phone number on a wireless LAN device or smartphone to stay connected within a medical facility.

The checkout kiosk resembles a price check scanner in a retail store, Bruce Wallace, Avaya's global leader for health care solutions, told eWEEK.

When doctors, nurses or housekeeping staff begin a shift, they swipe a barcode on their mobile device and ID badge at a checkout station to register their own device or a shared one. The network then assigns a phone number to the device, so workers can avoid complex login procedures each time they come to work and hospitals can monitor who's on a particular shift, according to Wallace.

By personalizing phone numbers using barcodes, nurses will be able to keep track of the short list of people they work with from day to day, he said.

"There's no way that a hospital can afford to buy one for everybody, so it's a quick and effective way for a person when they come on duty to grab a device from a shared pool and make it theirs for the shift," Wallace said.

In addition to supporting iPhone and BlackBerry, the new version has a cellular phone mode as well. "You can have devices off the cellular network behaving like they're in the hospital," Wallace explained. "Any cell phone will interact with them."

The application also works with the iPad when it's using a soft phone client and Bluetooth headset. "Although you can buy an iPad with a 3G cellular radio in it, Apple has not supported a cellular phone function on the device," Wallace noted.

Version 3.0 of Mobile Device Checkout also adds reporting features to allow hospital staff to track the devices. Often the phones go unreturned or underused, according to Wallace.

Avaya also announced a voice automation application called Patient Follow-up to allow hospitals to communicate with patients after they leave the hospital. The automated recordings will ask patients about their medical history and reasons for hospitalization and give patients the direction they need to continue their care at home.

Early awareness of patient issues can prevent rehospitalization, as facilities look to avoid costly and unnecessary readmissions, Wallace said.

With the Patient Follow-up application handling lower-risk patients, nursing teams will handle those that need more attention, he explained.

Patient Follow-up supports the HL7 (Health Level 7 International) standards for interoperability with EHRs (electronic health records), so that the results of the calls will be documented in the patients' records, Wallace said. It will be available in summer 2011.

Avaya announced the new products at the HIMSS11 (Health Information Management and Systems Society 2011) conference in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 21 and demonstrated them during the show. The applications will become active in March.