Tech

How a new workplace duress product can keep healthcare workers safe

In an industry with the highest rate of non-fatal workplace violence, Cognosos Protect aims to ensure that healthcare workers are protected at all times.
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3 min read

“Don’t panic!” is a great line, but only on two occasions: when you’re reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and also…no, that’s it.

It’s far easier to be told not to panic than to find solutions for panicking, as many hospitals across the US have found out: Hospital executives are rushing to alleviate the growing problem of workplace violence for their workers through a myriad of techniques, from installing metal detectors to giving staff panic buttons.

To help hospitals address this danger, Cognosos, an Atlanta-based software company specializing in real-time location systems and asset intelligence, introduced a new safety product for healthcare workers, designed with subtlety and accuracy in mind.

“You’re four times more likely to get attacked as a nurse or a physician than any other industry. It’s up there as being as dangerous as being a police officer,” Cognosos CPO Adrian Jennings told Healthcare Brew. “But we don’t hand out tasers and guns and hand-to-hand combat training for nurses.”

Cognosos’s safety product, Cognosos Protect, utilizes Bluetooth and machine learning artificial intelligence (AI) to provide hospitals with an infrastructure that’s not only accurate but also affordable and easy to install. The company describes it as a “discreet, wearable” button that sends out a distress signal when pressed—in contrast to larger panic buttons that some hospitals use—and costs only a few hundred dollars per healthcare worker a year, according to Jennings.

Cognosos developed this product after seeing numerous other healthcare workplace safety products that Jennings found unintuitive, or in his words, “silly.”

Take a panic button mounted on the wall of a hospital room, for example.

“It seems sensible,” Jennings said, but pointed out some obvious flaws: What if you have to reach past an aggressive patient to get to it? What if you’re unable to press the button as you’re being attacked? What if it escalates the situation when you visibly call for help?

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.

How about a portable panic button set on a badge?

“It’ll tell you where the incident happened when you push the button. But you have to push it again to update your location,” Jennings said. “Well, that’s a tricky thing to do if you’re being attacked.”

Though the product is still in its “initial release stage” and not yet implemented in hospitals, according to the company, Cognosos executives developed processes to assure workers the product will work in an emergency. This includes a self-test feature to ensure the button is working properly before entering high-risk areas, according to a press release.

The benefits of installing a comprehensive safety solution for healthcare workers don’t stop at physical safety. In a field already plagued by staffing shortages, 25% of healthcare workers who experienced workplace violence across the world have considered leaving their jobs, according to a survey.

Human resources wouldn’t be the only loss to hospitals and health systems: A study conducted by risk management firm Milliman estimated that “in-facility violence” cost health providers almost $428.5 million in 2016.

“What we’ve striven to do is create a cost-effective enough solution that everybody can be protected with Cognosos,” Jennings said. “I wouldn’t want to be the hospital CFO that tries to decide who you’re not going to give a safety solution to.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.