Most hospitals still rely on a simple messaging system for contacting surgeons; however, there are a few new technologies emerging that make the process somewhat easier to implement and record. Hospitals like to know that their staff is readily available when needed, and many require that the doctor call the hospital back within a short time frame.
Smartphone apps are new resources that are just beginning to emerge, and they still require more development to be effective. The on-call professional needs to call the hospital back after they have been called and the apps being created help by prioritizing these calls. Surgeons have to call back in any case, but it is helpful to know if the call is related to a trauma emergency, a consultation, or a post-operation situation.
Across the globe, companies are utilizing existing 3G and 4G technologies to bring patients and doctors closer together. Many of these devices and technologies are currently used to connect patients in rural areas to hospitals by monitoring vital signs from afar. A Qualcomm press release explains a merge with Medical Platform Asia. Together they launched the Wireless Health Care@home project, which allows patients in rural Japan to send their vital statistics to city hospitals from their homes.
Chinese doctors can access electronic health records as well as their health treatment database, so they can see everything about a patient's history before seeing the patient. India uses teleconferencing, and via a partnership with Johns Hopkins University, a notification structure through their mCare system to help with childbirth.
When a surgeon is on call, it does not mean that they have left the hospital. Some hospitals are very large, and it can be a burden to find a doctor's location within the facility. According to the California HealthCare Foundation, the University of California San Diego Medical Center has implemented a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system for patients and staff throughout the hospital. Staff and patients are issued a RFID tag while they are on hospital grounds. The tag sends the location of the individual to a central network that can track exactly where anyone is at all times.
Technologies for the standard on-call protocol are still plain, but more third party companies are getting involved to aid hospitals in finding staff, keeping staff up to date and seeking out ways to make patients feel more in touch with the staff. These technologies that are mainly utilized in rural areas will soon be implemented in large cities, like New York, where it can take surgeons too much time to get to a hospital. They will know the nature of the emergency, the vitals of the patients, and maybe one day, be able to view X-rays with the push of a button.