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The "anti-pager" faction in healthcare has gained another voice with the announcement of enhancements to the Zipit Enterprise Critical Messaging Solution, a year-old mobile platform offered through Verizon.
The Greenville, S.C.-based company has unveiled a smartphone app and VoIP capabilities for its remote device, which was first introduced at the HIMSS11 conference last year in Orlando, Fla. The new capabilities are designed to turn the care provider's smartphone into a Zipit device, while enabling the company's Zipit Now portable medical device to be used as a phone.
"Pagers are antiquated now," says Michael Vitale, vice president of sales for Zipit Wireless. "It's time to get rid of them for something better."
Zipit officials say more than 100 providers are using Zipit Now, which connects through the Zipit Enterprise Critical Messaging Solution to the Remote Administration Portal (RAP), which allows messages to be delivered and confirmed within 10 seconds. Enhanced with VoIP, Zipit Now creates a single, unified communications platform that can handle paging, secure chat, SMS and voice calls over a Wi-Fi network.
Vitale said the RAP, which enables administrators to track and manage messages across all channels, is "the foundation for the Zipit" network, adding "a whole new level of accountability." The network also allows for connection to machines, pulling in alarms, images and text.
According to Jeff Pierson, Verizon's product manager for vertical solutions, there are roughly 4.1 million pagers in use on carrier networks in the United States, and about 58 percent of them are used in healthcare. Verizon has more than $5 billion invested in the healthcare market, he said, and "Zipit is a unique solution in the healthcare space."
"Verizon is focused on helping transform the U.S. healthcare system through health IT," added Peter Tippett, vice president and chief medical officer for New York-based Verizon Connected Healthcare, in a press release. "This solution is another good example of how technology can truly enable better patient care by helping healthcare professionals to connect instantly."
Among the organizations using Zipit Now is Saint Francis Healthcare in Wilmington, Del., part of the Catholic Health East network.
"I'm sold on this solution," said Ty Knox, Saint Francis' chief information officer, in a press release issued by Zipit and Verizon. "The information provided to us through the Zipit Remote Administration portal is unparalleled. It will hold all of us to a level of accountability that hasn't been available before and enable our staff to achieve higher levels of collaborative care."
Vitale said the addition of the Zipit Confirm, available on iOS and Android-powered devices, "fulfills a need for healthcare providers to get rid of all the mobile devices on their belt. Some don't even want devices or tablets – they just want apps."
The new app "is a great tool for our nursing professionals," said Greg Ackerman, director of IT at the University of California, Irvine, in the Zipit-Verizon press release. "This solution eliminates the typical 'page-and-pray' process while enabling efficiencies that save time and improve direct patient care."
Vitale said the mobile app is especially important to nurses who "spend too much time tracking down other nurses or doctors," either by paging them or simply running up and down hallways. In addition, he said, "there's a lot of focus in healthcare to not do overhead paging any more, which is disruptive."
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