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Why Paging Remains a Critical Aspect of Healthcare Communications

By Marc A. Gineris
Incyte Capital Holdings LLC
November 19, 2016

Delivery of lifesaving techniques and systems has been accomplished throughout history through cost saving and highly effective technologies and inventions. Since its introduction, paging, and its unique network characteristics, has represented the most reliable, most timely, yet most cost effective way of delivering a critical alert for code and urgent messages in a healthcare setting. In this way, paging represents a logical enduring paradigm, much like other examples that exist in our daily life.

As an example of other lifesaving inventions and technologies that remain as relevant and important today as they were the first day they were introduced, we have to look no further than the automobile industry. In the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s, automakers Saab and Volvo began introducing seat belts as a safety feature, initially as an option and then as standard equipment. Among U.S. manufacturers, Nash in 1949 and Ford in 1955, similarly offered seat belts as a safety option. After initial designs patented by Saab engineers Roger Griswold and Hugh DeHaven, in the early 1950’s, it was Volvo automobile engineer Nils Bohlin, who, in 1959, ultimately invented the three-point safety belt — the basic design essentially still in use today. Since its introduction, this single safety feature has saved millions of lives.

In support of the premise that paging remains logically relevant and vital despite significant and ongoing R&D spending on alternative communication technologies today, the automobile paradigm is instructive. The typical automobile today incorporates significant advanced safety features that have been introduced since the advent of the three-point safety belt in 1959. These technologies include front and side air bags, active head restraints, crumple zones, shock absorbing bumpers, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and, more recently, radar collision warning systems. These safety technologies have involved research and development spending in the billions of dollars and their total portion of the purchase price of a typical automobile today can exceed twenty percent of the total automobile cost. However, it is widely acknowledged that the single most important piece of safety equipment on an automobile remains the seat belt. In 2016, the cost of seat belts on a typical passenger car was under $1,000 and changes to its basic design have been modest.

While communications and automobiles are admittedly vastly different industries, both examples highlight that R&D spending and advanced technologies applications are not always well correlated to assessing the vital importance, continued value and outstanding performance of an original device or feature for safety — or a lifesaving result. In healthcare communications, as in automobile safety, technology advances are best applied in conjunction with paging rather than as a replacement for its superior, existing capabilities. Simply put, paging remains the most cost effective, most proven way to deliver a critical, life saving alert. Those that argue that it is old technology, obsolete and should be replaced should be reminded of how reliable its unique, simulcast network remains. Put another way, when I am asked by someone when paging will go away, I respond by asking when they believe that seat belts will be replaced in their family car despite millions of dollars in ongoing R&D spending annually for automobile safety.

Source: Marc A. Gineris, Managing General Partner and Founder of Incyte Capital Holdings LLC


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