Pagers vs Smart Apps? Why everyone is asking the wrong question

This year’s Health and Care Innovation Expo 2019 in Manchester attracted some 5,000 delegates from the NHS, social care and other sectors.

Multitone, one of the industry’s leading manufacturers of life-critical technologies for communications and asset management, was delighted to be present at this important event. Over the two days, the Multitone team exhibited its wide ranging cross-network solutions to many delegates, spoke to NHS colleagues from different disciplines and backgrounds including CIOs, IT directors, front line hospital staff, community health visitors, nurses and physiotherapists.

The exhibition proved to be a great opportunity for Multitone to raise awareness amongst delegates of the fact that the company, which manufactured the first pagers more than 60 years ago, is now uniquely positioned as a single solution provider which can provide solutions to fit the needs of individual hospital Trusts and primary care agencies.

Clinicians and management are of course well aware of the current debate concerning the proposal to end the use of pagers by 2021. The announcement by the Secretary of State, Matt Hancock MP, earlier this year suggesting that WhatsApp style messaging solutions were the future has undoubtedly provoked considerable debate, with arguments for and against this controversial plan.

Nevertheless, as one of the pioneers of wireless telephony such as pagers, Multitone believes that it is not simply a question of whether pagers – or smart apps – are the right choice. This is not a binary decision between two alternatives; rather NHS Trusts and primary care agencies need integrated solutions based on an approach which adopts technologies suitable for each organisation. The UK based company has been supplying products and services for more than 88 years and understands the crucial importance of ensuring total 24/7 coverage for health care staff – no matter what.

At the exhibition, it was evident that there were numerous other companies supplying various solutions and products such as smart apps and other innovative solutions. However, Multitone is the only company seeking to tackle the problems faced by NHS trusts in a cohesive way.

For example, Multitone has worked with Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool to help migrate to a hybrid solution comprising of pagers as well as other hi-res, hi-tech solutions.

Its various solutions include unified messaging systems which have the ability to integrate and deliver a suite of messaging services through a single platform; a new Bed and Asset Management platform, developed in partnership with Healthcare Analytics; and Spectralink’s market-leading Versity handset, which provides users with a significantly improved experience taking into account the changes in communications throughout the NHS.

Life or death situations require innovative and creative solutions which harness the best technologies whether analogue or digital. The feedback that Multitone received at the exhibition made it evidently clear that the NHS should pursue a communications strategy which is based upon collaborative, multi-faceted, flexible and integrated solutions that use both digital and analogue pager solutions: ‘purge the pager’ is the wrong answer to the question.