Austin Healthcare Provider Adopts Pryme PTT, Zello Messaging App
Thursday, January 27, 2022 | Comments

An Austin, Texas, healthcare provider is using Pryme Radio Product’s push-to-talk (PTT) button and Zello’s messaging service to improve operations.

In the United States, there are a variety of anesthesia delivery service models in healthcare. The anesthesia care team (ACT) approach pairs physician anesthesiologists (MD) with certified anesthesiologist assistants (CAA) and/or certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA.) In situations where several practitioners work concurrently in multiple surgical suites, communications among team members are crucial. Yet, communicating quickly, unobtrusively, and safely is easier said than done.

With 75 doctors and 130 anesthetists, Austin Anesthesiology Group (AAG) utilizes the ACT model to service five hospitals and 19 ambulatory surgery centers in the Austin area.

“On any given day, our team may be working in four different operating rooms (OR) simultaneously,” said Dr. Tony W. Gras, AAG medical director. “An anesthetist stays in each room while the primary physician anesthesiologist covers all four rooms.”

As a medical director, Gras covers all operating rooms (ORs) while also interviewing patients and preparing for the next procedure at the same time. Managing communications between team members and patients using a cellphone is difficult while wearing a surgical mask and can also be intrusive when with a patient. Ultimately, Gras found a solution not commonly used in OR environments.

“Last year, we began using the Zello voice messaging app as a way to communicate operational details between team members,” said Dr. Gras. “The only problem was, every time I needed to speak on Zello, I had to stop what I was doing to pick up and unlock my phone.”

Recently, he found the answer in the “Compatible Hardware” section of Zello’s website: the Pryme BT-PTT-ZU Wireless Super Mini Button. It affixes anywhere with a Velcro strap and enables users to speak on Zello with the press of a button.

“I clip the button to my ID badge within easy reach to speak with Zello,” Gras said. “To hear messages, I wear earbuds or keep my phone mic side up in the breast pocket of my scrubs.”

The communication system is primarily used in the OR during clean procedures when interviewing or prepping patients. Once wearing sterile gloves, practitioners never touch their phones. However, the wireless PTT button opened up new communication capabilities during sterile procedures. Now, Gras simply asks an assistant to press the button on his ID badge when he needs to speak on Zello.

“Pryme’s PTT Button has been a godsend,” he said. “If we need to act quickly, the seconds it saves accessing Zello can make a critical difference.”

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