Healthcare regulations imposed by the American Hospital Association, HIPAA, Joint Commission, and Medicaid/Medicare mandate accurate timekeeping in processes, including patient care, medical record entries, medication disbursement and accreditation. Precise time is also vital in managing efficient patient throughput, standardized shift changes, interdepartmental activities, meetings, and staff schedules. The prognosis-when it comes to official timekeeping, you can't count on every clock to display the same precise time, unless it happens to be a Synchronized clock.
Standard Wall Clocks - Bargain or Bust?
At face value, ordinary wall clocks appear to be the best value on the market, priced at $19-$39. Don't be too quick to furnish your healthcare facility with these basic time tellers. Common everyday wall clocks eventually suffer from a phenomenon known as "time drift", and each clock keeps time at a different rate. The end result-every clock displays a different time. This time discrepancy trips up shift schedules, meeting times, medication disbursement, or any time time-sensitive activity. Imagine the clock in the OR displaying a different time than the clock in the ER or nurse's station.
Atomic Clocks - A Ticking "Time Bomb"?
An atomic clock, also called a radio controlled clock, is set to receive a signal broadcast from an actual atomic clock, usually operated by a government agency (i.e. WWVB in Boulder, Colorado). As reliable as they may seem, atomic clocks have some inherent issues:
Clock Position and Weather Conditions - Since atomic clocks pick up radio waves from time signal stations, the clocks must be physically pointed towards the station. Signal reception also depends on good weather conditions, with high-pressure or low-lying fog potentially affecting reception.
Distance and Accuracy - Ironically, timing itself is an issue for atomic clocks. The time it takes for the radio signal to travel to the clock can take way too long. The signal provides the time at the point the signal left the station, but the actual time at which it reaches your clock will be slightly later. This is a problem in areas farthest away from a particular station, such as the east and west coast of the United States.
Inconsistent Performance -Atomic clocks use a device known as a quartz crystal oscillator to keep time in between checking and synchronizing with a time signal station. The performance of this quartz may vary, and this factor will become more significant if reception problems prevent synchronization for an extended period of time.
Synchronized Clocks - A Sure Thing.
Synchronized Clocks display the same exact time across an entire healthcare facility, from the ER, to the OR, and every patient room, work station and department in between. Synchronized Clock Systems reference an official, traceable time source, eliminating time discrepancies, and help comply with various timekeeping regulations.
The most dependable Synchronized Clock Systems are Radio Frequency (RF) Wireless Clocks and PoE IP Network Clocks. Here are some key advantages to these types of systems:
Radio Frequency Wireless Clocks
Radio Frequency Wireless clocks receive a dependable wireless time signal from an Ethernet-based transmitter centrally located within signal range of the clocks. The RF Wireless transmitter uses Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). The time signal "hops" from frequency to frequency, ensuring the clocks will receive the correct time despite interference on any of the frequencies. Each clock receives consistent time updates. Battery operated clocks search for time update every 24 hours and electric powered clocks search for time update every 20 seconds.
PoE IP Network Clocks
PoE IP Network clocks use a standard category 5 Ethernet cable to access time from your local LAN or WAN network. The clocks are powered over the Ethernet (IEEEE.802.3af), making this type of system the most cost-effective synchronized clock system on the market. Each clock receives continuous time updates.
Because Synchronized clocks receive official time, they meet federal, state and industry-specific timekeeping regulations in the healthcare industry. These clocks also feature automatic Daylight Saving Time adjustment, so you can forget about manual clock resets. You can count on every clock to display accurate, precise, and official time. Visit our dedicated Synchronized Clock for Healthcare page for more information.
Click here for a complete listing of timekeeping regulations.
Download our Guide to Synchronized Clock Systems for Healthcare.
Read up on more timekeeping product applications for healthcare facilities.