Tips and best practices

Seven steps to TETRA – the hospital expert’s view

Using TETRA in hospitals can bring great benefits, states Tomi Pekkonen, Manager for Social and Healthcare VIRVE network, Hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa (Finland).


Step 1 – Have you got indoor coverage?
Check the indoor coverage throughout the area where you intend to employ the TETRA network. This needs to be tested with the same radios that your staff will be using.
Step 2 – Know your users’ needs
All the different user groups in the hospital need to clarify their connectivity needs. If a specific team is on-call at home, commercial networks might not have the necessary availability and coverage. The use of VIRVE is a safer option and may well determine whether a rescue unit reaches its destination on time or not.
You should define the user needs of the different departments, as well as IT/telecoms staff, the head of security and a senior physician.
Step 3 – Make a plan and put it into effect
Plan the processes, groups, status messages and other communication tools your staff will use. All the needed groups are configured into radios and are then delivered to the hospital.
Step 4 – Choose radios that suit your environment
Hospital staff often carry their radios in their pockets without any special carrying solutions and so prefer a small, slim radio. One such solution is the Th1n TETRA radio, whose strategic dimensions are 19 mm in width and 160 g in weight.
Step 5 – Practical training is key
Users will benefit from simple, practical training that also caters to the needs of those with limited experience on group-based radio communications. The same training for police officers or firefighters may not work for hospital staff. After training, the users should have the confidence to use the phone and have access to easy-to-grasp support materials.
Step 6 – Test and ask for feedback
It is possible to do a 3-to-6-month pilot scheme and collect and review feedback. Any changes needed can be implemented during the pilot. Another option is to start without a pilot period, but before official use, collecting user experiences is still crucial.
Step 7 – Involve everyone necessary
When designing smooth communications between healthcare providers, make sure that the decision-making and governing structures are clarified. In particular, you should decide which responsibilities lie with the different parties, such as:

  • TETRA operator
  •  Ministry of Health
  • Hospital districts
  • Single hospitals
  • Other possible governing structures

Once the user roles are clear, it is much easier to introduce upgrades and new applications to the whole communications network infrastructure.

To TETRA or not to TETRA?

In many countries, hospitals still use commercial networks for their crucial communications, even when a reliable TETRA service is available. Many would like to take advantage of TETRA, but don’t know where to start.

On the other hand, TETRA users in hospitals have reported that it takes less time and fewer steps to do their work. An example is that alerting a trauma team now takes seconds compared to the 15 minutes it can take to call them separately over a GSM network.


-- Further reading -

If you want to write your TETRA radio RFP/RFQ so you’ll get what you really need, download the eBook "How to be smarter about buying TETRA radios"

Or take a look: Complete portfolio of TETRA radios from Airbus