Vocera's updated clinician communications wearable begins shipping to customers

The Vocera Smartbadge holds a 2.4 inch touchscreen, improved microphones and speakers, extended battery life and other perks over its predecessor.
By Dave Muoio
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San Jose-based mobile healthcare device maker Vocera Communications has shipped the first order of its updated wearable for clinicians, the Vocera Smartbadge, to a nearly 700-bed Georgia hospital.

The company’s prior device, the Vocera Badge, has long offered secure, hands-free, wireless communications support to practitioners. The newer Smartbadge will offer Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital many of the same functionalities, but boasts a 2.4 inch touchscreen that gives users the option to view additional context with their notifications.

“For example, a nurse who receives a sepsis alert can see the patient room number, plus the patient’s name, age and vital signs,” Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera, told MobiHealthNews in an email Q&A. “The larger screen also enables clinicians to access contact lists, as well as send and receive text messages right from their Smartbadge. While the device’s screen is larger than the original Vocera Badge, the new Smartbadge is still small, lightweight and ideal for busy clinicians who need to keep their hands free to provide patient care.”

Other features of the new devices include improved microphones and speakers, a one-touch emergency button, extended battery life, water resistance and a USB charging and headset port. However, Lang highlighted the larger software platform as the backbone that ties together the Smartbadge’s capabilities.

“[The platform] is an intelligent solution that enables clinicians to communicate hand-free by simply saying the name or role of the person or group they want to reach and be instantly connected,” he said. “Additionally. the Smartbadge will integrate with more than 140 clinical and operational systems, including electronic health records, nurse call systems, physiologic monitors and more.”

Why it matters

Vocera is among the older players in digital healthcare communications, and its Vocera Badge wearables have been employed in nearly 1,600 facilities worldwide, according to the company. Adopting an upgraded version of that same device could bring a swell of new connectivity capabilities to these providers.

What’s the trend

The past few years have seen Vocera continuing its business with provider-focused deals and federal contracts. Elsewhere in the industry, communications platforms have been split between purpose-built devices and secure software communications platforms for use with standard smartphones have been gaining ground. Examples of the latter include recent announcements regarding new tools for the Spok Care Connect platform and Microsoft’s Teams platform for workplace messaging.

On the record

“We have been using Vocera technology for more than 10 years and are thrilled to be the first hospital to receive the Smartbadge,” Evelyn M. Olenick, SVP and chief nursing officer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, said in a statement. “Our clinicians are looking forward to having more contextual patient information at their fingertips with the new, larger touchscreen while still being able to communicate hands-free.”