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Pryme Push-to-Talk Button Assists Surgical Teams

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.

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

Gras covers all 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,” explained 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 one 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. To hear messages, I wear earbuds or keep my phone mic side up in the breast pocket of my scrubs,” Gras said.

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. If we need to act quickly, the seconds it saves accessing Zello can make a critical difference,” Gras said.

Following his discovery of this new communication method, Gras sent an email to all his colleagues saying, “I thought I would share the information in case anybody else has the same problem.”

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