Panasonic launches app-enabled comms tool for senior living facilities

By Jonah Comstock
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Panasonic has launched a new nurse communication system for senior living facilities. The offering combines some of Panasonic's existing communication tools with a new software called Direct Care Connect. The result is that all the alarms in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility are routed through a single hub and intelligently assigned to particular caregivers, who can either be connected by a cordless phone from Panasonic or through an Android app.

"One of the most complicated things at senior living facilities is that nurses are running around all the time and they’re relying on pagers and walkie talkies. So we’re giving them basically a wireless telephone that not only allows them to communicate with the staff, but receive alarms and communicate with the residents," Oliver Bodden, product manager of unified communications at Panasonic, told MobiHealthNews.

The system consists of the Direct Care Connect software, a terminal, and some combination of DECT cordless handsets and Android phones with the DCare mobile app, which allows nurses to not only monitor and respond to alarms but also to generate new alarms if there's something else that needs to be done. 

Bodden says Panasonic is targeting senior living facilities in particular because they tend to have built up an amalgam of old, incomplete communication systems.

"When it comes to senior living facilities is we’ve noticed that they refurbish, they sell, they merge, they wind up having several different brands of nurse call systems," he said. "Since our system can integrate with any alarm system, it doesn’t matter what the facility has, we would receive all those alarms and centralize it into one system."

The system works like a call center, smartly routing alarm calls to the closest available caregiver. It tracks caregiver locations using either RFID tags or Bluetooth in the handsets. This approach allows a facility to greatly increase efficiency, Bodden said, because nurses aren't redundantly responding to calls or going out of their way unnecessarily -- instead, each alarm goes to one caregiver and escalates to another if they aren't available.

"The same way a call center has to put priority to calls coming in, measure them, track the response time, and all these things, we add that technology and that intelligence into our direct care connect software," Bodden said.