How Wearable Technology Keeps Hospitals and Schools Safer

With the increasing violence against frontline workers, many schools and healthcare facilities are turning to wearable technology solutions.

How Wearable Technology Keeps Hospitals and Schools Safer

Quality school districts and healthcare facilities provide important contributions that improve the lives of people in their communities daily. While both of these industries share various commonalities, a daily concern for both healthcare workers and educators is their physical safety. This is a challenge that leaders and decision-makers in both fields must address.

In the last year, 81.6% of nurses said they have experienced a workplace violence incident. Simultaneously, school shootings reached a record high of 308 during the 2022-2023 school year, and behavioral incidents involving violence against teachers are on the rise.

With the increasing violence against frontline workers, technology has advanced to offer better options for making sure that people can receive help quickly and reliably in emergencies. Many schools and healthcare facilities are turning to wearable technology solutions to foster safer communities.

Wearable Technology Offers Faster, More Reliable Responses in Emergencies

A common safety tool used by healthcare facilities and school districts is a mobile phone-based app that requires cellular service and access to a device. While a mobile phone may seem like the most practical resource to use in an emergency, this actually presents more issues.

When cellular service is down or a person is not within an area of campus that has Wi-Fi, they might be unable to initiate an alert for help. Additionally, relying on mobile phones presents other barriers. Some of these barriers include difficulty in receiving consistent, strong signals within buildings, the potential for mobile devices to be out of battery charge, and difficulty in convincing employees to use personal phones for work.

Related Article: Nationwide Cell Phone Outage Highlights Need for Multiple Emergency Communications Systems

There can also be an added cost of providing devices to employees in cases where security policy will not allow personal devices to be used for work purposes. Not every staff member will have a personal mobile phone or an app-friendly smartphone. Employers who rely on their employees’ mobile phones to keep them safe are only protecting those with access. With this, we see a low staff adoption rate of mobile apps because of the lack of access, privacy concerns that come with installing the app on their personal phones, or preferring to dial 911 rather than accessing an app.

Wearable technology solutions can empower staff to get help in an emergency in a way that is fast, easy, and discreet. Think about it – when a safety tool is on your person at all times, it can be much easier to call for help. Typically, wearable safety solutions do not depend on Wi-Fi or cellular service and can be discreetly accessed. Discretion is key and can help prevent a situation with an offender from escalating. It is a foundational element of training for healthcare staff related to workplace violence prevention.

Wearable solutions are also typically designed to be easy to use with a single button to initiate alerts. This design also makes it easy to use in stressful situations when staff may not remember a password or be able to grab a mobile phone. Wearable solutions can also give emergency responders precise location information of where the alert is coming from. And, in the event of a campus-wide emergency, full audio and visual notifications immediately communicate to inform everyone with campus-wide alerts via flashing strobes, screen takeover, and intercom messages.

Fostering Safer School Communities for Students and Teachers

Many leading U.S. public school districts are implementing wearable technology solutions, such as panic buttons, in response to Alyssa’s Law. Many educators have reported that they feel safer with access to wearable, easy-to-use solutions rather than a mobile app.

Named in honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, Alyssa’s Law requires public elementary and secondary schools in certain U.S. states to be equipped with “silent panic alarms directly linked to law enforcement.” The purpose of this legislation is to decrease the time it takes for first responders to arrive at an emergency, whether it’s a shooting, a natural disaster, or another type of incident.

Alyssa’s Law and panic button technology are creating safer environments to learn and work. In Florida, for example, school districts continue to switch to mobile panic buttons for Alyssa’s Law compliance. In a recent survey of Florida schools, 98% of staff members surveyed reported feeling safer and more supported because they had access to wearable technology solutions. In Texas, another state where Alyssa’s Law has been passed, districts are also rolling out wearable panic buttons. Texas schools have witnessed a positive impact from putting this technology into the hands of school staff. In a recent report, 93% of Texas staff surveyed reported that wearable panic buttons made them feel safer at work, and 99% of staff indicated that badge-based solutions were easy to use.

When staff feel safe and supported at work, a school district can attract and retain the most qualified educators. Many districts are noticing that wearable panic buttons are also helping them address issues with teacher recruitment and retention and making their districts more attractive to top educators. When educators have peace of mind, they can focus on their true calling, helping create positive learning experiences for students.

Related Article: Teacher Shortages by State and How Schools Are Trying to Fix the Problem

After getting access to a wearable solution, a high school teacher in Georgia shared, “I feel safe for the first time in a long time, and more importantly, I feel that I can respond quickly to keep students safe.”

Addressing Workplace Violence in Healthcare to Support Staff, Deliver Better Patient Care

Rising incidents of violence in healthcare settings are impacting workers’ abilities to perform to the best of their abilities and contributing to issues with staff retention. Workers in healthcare and social services are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than workers in other fields. And, in a recent survey, a significant 25% of healthcare personnel have expressed a readiness to quit their jobs due to violence in healthcare environments, and nearly half of the respondents acknowledged that on-the-job violence has diminished their motivation and satisfaction.

To address this issue, a growing number of states have existing or pending legislation aimed at protecting healthcare workers from workplace violence. Many states are enforcing or considering laws that would require healthcare facilities to increase worker protections. Whether it is required by law or not, comprehensive safety technology is a smart investment. Safety technology is helping healthcare communities to protect their staff from workplace violence, improve staff wellbeing, and deliver a higher level of patient care.

When hospitals prioritize workplace violence prevention programs and safety measures, they encounter fewer challenges with staff retention and recruitment. By emphasizing staff safety, hospitals provide employees with peace of mind, enhancing their mental well-being. When staff feel safe and supported in their workplaces, they can devote greater attention to patient care, leading to improved patient experiences.

As we work to protect our healthcare facilities and schools, technology can play a critical role in reducing response times and saving lives. Wearable panic buttons offer a solution that can deliver help faster in situations when seconds count. When help is within the push of a button, our schools and healthcare facilities are safer places for professionals who provide vital services that our communities depend on.

Ryan Bennett is the CrisisAlert Product Manager and Andrea Greco is the SVP of Healthcare Safety at CENTEGIX.

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