4 Best Smartphones for Nurse Communication

Banner graphic with blog title, "4 Best Smartphones for Nurse Communication," and outline illustration of a nurse using a smartphone.

Smartphones have the potential to transform workflows for nurses and other hospital caregivers. Rather than carrying around multiple devices, smartphones give clinicians mobile access to the EMR, integration with nurse call and telemetry, and secure clinical collaboration.

Many leading hospitals and health systems have enlisted PerfectServe as a partner in their transition to smartphones for nurse communication and mobility. If you are looking to enhance clinical collaboration and accelerate speed to care, here are some key insights on how to mobilize care team communication by selecting the right mobile devices for nurses.

The Best Mobile Devices in Healthcare for Nurses

Zebra Technologies TC52x-HC1

Zebra has been in the healthcare space for years, with their MC40 mobile computers and broad range of solutions like printers, scanners, and kiosks. A few years ago, they introduced the TC51-HC and quickly followed it up with the evolved TC52x-HC.

The TC52x-HC is a healthcare-focused unit that offers strong hardware performance and support for modern versions of Android. The device is protected by a rugged exterior that’s built to survive day to day in a nursing unit.

As an enterprise device, the TC52x-HC is available with built-in telephony, barcode scanning, robust battery capabilities, and many more features that come in handy in a healthcare setting. Like the other purpose-built Android devices on our list, the TC52-HC is a hardened device that can withstand repeated drops, exposure to liquids, and frequent exposure to healthcare disinfectants.

Improving upon the TC51-HC, the TC52x-HC offers an additional microphone, advanced noise cancellation, and a louder speaker to hear and be heard in noisy environments. Its battery is the largest of our recommended devices, and Zebra includes software tools that ensure the battery will last through an entire 12-hour shift.

The TC52x-HC also has a large full HD display for improved patient engagements, optimized voice capabilities, a disinfectant-ready design, and the full suite of Mobility DNA solutions.

Why choose it: Long-Term Quality

Zebra and its partner network are well established in healthcare, offering plenty of resources to help your project succeed. Zebra made sure the TC52x-HC is backwards compatible with TC51-HC accessories and future-proofed the device through Android 10 and later.

Honorable Mention: TC21-HC

Zebra also recently introduced a new TC21-HC device, targeted at ancillary healthcare workers like environmental services, transport, and food service staff. The TC21-HC offers most of the same features as the TC52x-HC in a slightly smaller, more cost-effective package.

Apple iPhone SE2

As a consumer-grade device, the iPhone delivers leading-edge hardware and software wrapped in a small, sleek package.

Compared to most enterprise-specific devices, an iPhone SE is a low-cost option. However, as a consumer phone, the Apple device will not offer the ruggedness, battery capabilities, native IP telephony, and other enterprise-grade features. Third-party protective sleds and charging solutions are available to make the device hospital ready.

The low cost, form factor, and familiarity of the iPhone make it a good option in the current device market.

Why choose it: iOS

If your organization prefers the Apple mobile operating system, your device choice is clear.

Spectralink Versity3

Spectralink has years of experience providing voice handsets that run on hospital wireless networks. After entering the smartphone market in 2014 with the Pivot, Spectralink rolled out the Versity to customers in late 2018.

Looking at the spec sheet, the Versity checks all the boxes for ruggedness, battery, telephony, etc. Its hardware and Android 8 operating system raised the bar in the enterprise device market.

Spectralink emphasizes voice quality with the Versity, leveraging years of wireless handset experience and advanced audio processing software. The device is available with a scanner or without for a sleeker, lower-cost option.

Why choose it: Form Factor

The Versity is slim and light, as close as you will find to a consumer phone in a rugged package.

Ascom Myco4

Another company with deep healthcare experience, Ascom offers the Myco 3 smartphone alongside its wireless telephone and nurse call products. Although the Myco 2 received mixed reviews, the new Ascom Myco 3 (launched in 2019) shows great potential as a nursing device. The five-inch screen, battery, ruggedness, and operating system are all in line with the Zebra and Spectralink devices.

Ascom has followed a more traditional smartphone form factor with the Myco 3, but they have added some creative functional touches. The device includes a removable clip to attach to a waistband or pocket. When worn clipped to scrubs, the top edge features multi-color LEDs that supported apps can use to signal informative notifications. The dedicated barcode scanner is on the rear, rather than the top, so users can see the screen easily while they point the scanner.

The Myco 3 is the newest device on this list. We had great results testing the device in our certification lab, and now we look forward to real-world feedback from our customers.

Why choose it: The Ascom Touch

Health systems already using Ascom nurse call and wireless phones should certainly consider the Myco 3 mobile device, along with any other team that could benefit from its unique ergonomic design.

Effective Communication in Nursing

Now is an exciting time as manufacturers continue to bring improved smartphones to the market. PerfectServe is here to share our experience and help you achieve your goals for clinical communication.

If you want more information about nurse mobility, check out our complete guide on clinical collaboration systems for hospitals and health systems.

See the Guide


Comprehensive Clinical Communication to Support Mother-Baby Care Delivery

Nearly four million babies are born per year in the United States.1 Obstetricians, pediatricians, nurses, case managers, discharge coordinators, and various other providers and care teams work to ensure that mothers and babies have optimal solutions for pregnancy, labor, delivery, and child healthcare.

From preconception to parenthood, PerfectServe’s comprehensive communication solutions can help your practice provide top-notch care at every touchpoint of mother and baby’s healthcare journey. Click the image below to download the infographic.

1Births and Natality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm

To learn more about how PerfectServe can support your organization in mother-baby care delivery, contact one of our Clinical Communication Specialists.

3 Ways to Save Nurses’ Time With Better Communication

Nurses play a central role in providing patient-centered, cost-effective care. They are responsible for care coordination and communication with each patient’s family members, as well as a growing care team of physicians and specialists, ancillary staff, and care coordinators. In addition to nurses’ growing list of daily non-clinical tasks, inefficient care coordination workflows prevent them from providing better patient care.

A 2018 time and motion study revealed that in four hours, nurses spent around 32 minutes communicating with patients and family and 51 minutes communicating and coordinating care with members of the care team1—fully 34.6% of nurses’ time each day. Technology aimed at improving nurse workflows has often contributed to their frustration by adding siloed, task-specific “solutions” to their workload. On top of this, nurse turnover rates increased from 13.5% to 16.7% during 2019.2 From 2020-2021, nurses felt burnt out and overworked due to increased patient demand, poor communication, and hospital staffing shortages.

Let’s talk about an alternative approach to help these medical heroes on the frontlines. Read below for three ways clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology can help healthcare organizations empower their nurses to drive patient-centered care.

Reduce Communication Cycle Times

Communication workflows can be cumbersome, requiring nurses to reference several systems or paper on-call schedules. When they go to page, call, and relay information through the office staff, they have to wait for the intended recipient to call back. This error-prone process causes care delays and requires repetitive steps when a provider is unavailable.

An improved communication strategy built around an integrated healthcare solution can reduce average response times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes or less.3 Here are a few capabilities that make it easier for nurses to find the right physician at the right time:

  • A single, unified directory to find and contact clinicians by name, role, and on-call status (e.g. “cardiologist on call”).
  • Ability to send messages to the whole patient care team at the touch of a button.
  • Built-in physician contact preferences to ensure communication is delivered via the most preferred messaging alert method.
  • Read receipts and smart escalation routing to ensure messages are read, acknowledged, and acted upon in a timely manner.
  • Message history and EHR integration for quick context.

Faster communication leads to a safer, quicker, and higher-quality patient experience.

“When healthcare professionals communicate effectively—conveying critical information in a timely or easily understandable manner, clearly spelling out orders or instructions, and answering questions thoroughly and thoughtfully—they deliver safer and higher-quality care.” -James Merlino, MD

Integrate Alerts and Critical Result Notifications

Alarms, alerts, and other notifications continue to be named among the top 10 health technology hazards for 2020,4 impacting patient satisfaction and contributing to alarm fatigue. This fatigue continues to be an issue for healthcare employees and nursing staff.

In a 2015 study, nurses reported that only 52% of bed calls required nursing care, while others could be answered by support staff.5 Constant interruptions reduce care efficiency and require nurses to make multiple unnecessary trips to patient rooms. While nurses are inundated with alerts, they are not adequately alerted of critical results and orders that truly need their assistance. They are forced to repeatedly check the EHR for updates, wasting valuable time for patients in need.

Centralizing alerts and communication across multiple systems, including the EHR and nurse call system, can eliminate noise, add context to alert notifications, and call attention to critical alerts by allowing:

  • Delivery of alerts to mobile devices, where nurses can accept, escalate, or call back to speak with the patient.
  • Push notification of critical results (lab or radiology) or physician orders to speed up time to care.
  • Routing of nonclinical alerts to patient care techs or nursing assistants.
  • Workflow rules to help ensure that only critical alarms disrupt normal workflows and are differentiated with a distinct alert tone.
  • Clinical surveillance to send push alerts for sepsis, respiratory deterioration, organ failure, etc.
  • Routing of “leads off” alarms to only alert the nurse assigned to that specific patient, set to escalate to the charge nurse if the assigned nurse does not respond within a predetermined time frame, eliminating an audible, ward-wide alert.

In addition to better medical alert systems, learn how nurses can improve self-care.

Simplify Patient Engagement

Nurses are tasked with keeping family members up to date on patient status, sharing care instructions, arranging discharge, and following up with patients and their families after discharge. As nurses invest increasing amounts of time in patient and family engagement activities, they become more confined to the nurses’ station and less available at the patient bedside.

Post-discharge patient engagement relies heavily on phone communication. This has a declining impact due to phone tags and low voicemail retrieval rates. With spammy robocalls and unsolicited messages on the rise, it’s no wonder patient follow-up becomes an arduous task.

On the other hand, secure texting with patients and families allows health systems to automate more effective outreach in the following ways:

  • Share care instructions, arrange discharge, and answer questions.
  • Route inbound messages to the call center, rather than the nurse, for triage.
  • Automate patient outreach, such as surveys, post-discharge instructions (tailored to the patient profile), and referrals.
  • Support two-way communication and allow individuals to respond to patients as needed, leveraging the expertise of nurse assistants, call agents, and more.

Start Saving Nurses’ Time

PerfectServe’s CC&C solution with patient engagement capabilities helps streamline nurse workflows, reduce care delays, improve patient safety, and boost patient satisfaction.

PerfectServe’s Solution for Nurses



  1. Nurses’ Time Allocation and Multitasking of Nursing Activities: A Time Motion Study, AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2018: 1137-1146, Yen, P. et al., 2018: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371290/#r34-2975707
  2. Why so many nurses are quitting (and what to do about it), Peng, J., Rewers, L., 2021: https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2021/10/06/nurse-turnover
  3. Secure Clinical Communications Makes Real Patient Impact, Health IT Outcomes, Griffith, A., 2015: healthitoutcomes.com/doc/secure-clinical-communications-makes-real-patient-impact-0001
  4. 2020 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Executive Brief, 2020: org/landing-2020-top-ten-health-technology-hazards
  5. Interruptions of nurses’ activities and patient safety: an integrative literature review, Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, Monteiro Cintia et al., 2015: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376046

Prevent Patient Leakage With In-Network Referrals

Healthcare leaders must reduce patient leakage by improving clinical communication throughout the referral process to support value-based care and drive better patient and population health outcomes.

Large healthcare networks were created to broaden patient access to connected providers and facilities. In-network referrals are a key aspect of maintaining continuity of care across hospitals, primary care facilities, outpatient facilities, and ancillary services to support better patient outcomes.

What is patient leakage?

Patient leakage, also known as referral leakage and patient referral leakage, describes when a patient seeks or obtains healthcare services outside the hospital network. Unfortunately, when patients go outside the network for care, significant problems can occur.

Problems Caused by Patient Leakage

  1. The patient loses care continuity, often resulting in a frustrating patient experience and suboptimal patient health outcomes.
  2. The health system loses revenue and visibility into the patient’s healthcare journey, which is essential for tracking patient progress and administering future treatment.
  3. The out-of-network specialist may not have full access to the patient’s medical records and history to support proper treatment.
  4. With out-of-network referrals, inefficiencies in the referral process can result in denied referrals, delays in patient diagnosis or care, duplicate testing, and reduced continuity of care.1

One study found that approximately 70% of primary care providers (PCPs) report sending patient history and reason for referral, but less than 35% of specialists report receiving that information.2

The Cost of Patient Leakage

Every year, more than a third of patients in the US are referred to a specialist. Healthcare executives report the following:

  • 43% are losing 10% or more of annual revenue to patient leakage.
  • 19% are losing up to 20% of annual revenue.
  • 20% don’t understand where or why patient leakage occurs.3

20% percent of malpractice claims for missed or delayed diagnoses involved communication deficits in handoffs.3

What causes patient leakage?

Patient leakage occurs for a variety of reasons, but it happens most frequently when physicians issue out-of-network referrals. A survey of 200 physicians across the US revealed that a significant contributor to out-of-network referrals is the lack of access to detailed information about in-network providers.

91-96% of physicians say details including a provider’s general specialty, subspecialty, specific area of clinical focus, and availability to see a patient in a timely manner are highly important to inform referrals. But only 57-63% of respondents report having access to these details.4

Healthcare organizations can reduce business losses from out-of-network referrals and improve care outcomes by making it easier to find and hand off care to in-network care providers.

Patient Satisfaction Contributes to Patient Leakage

Another cause of patient leakage is a patient’s choice to go outside the healthcare network, which could be caused by a lack of information about in-network options or problems with the patient experience. A patient may leave with an in-network referral, but choose a competing facility instead.

Why? Sometimes, the patient is dissatisfied with their care. Other times, patients conduct their own research and choose a competing facility without knowing how the choice might impact the coordination of their care.

How to Reduce Patient Leakage

To reduce patient leakage, healthcare organizations need to support in-network referrals by enhancing transparency and simplifying the referral process. Make sure the right information is accessible to physicians looking for an in-network specialist for a patient referral. Use a system that delivers the referral to the right provider at the right time, with built-in escalation to ensure a timely response.

A clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solution can help if it offers:

Clinician Collaboration

  • Unified Directory: Referring physicians can easily look up any in-network clinician by name, role, or specialty. Search “cardiologist” to see a list of in-network cardiologists and further refine the list by hospital or healthcare facility to best support patients.
  • Safe Patient Handoff: Referring PCPs or hospital physicians can perform a safe handoff to seamlessly share patient history and clinical notes with the specialist.
  • Care Coordination: Support ongoing communication among the complete care team—including the referring physician and the specialist—with HIPAA-compliant messaging to foster team-based decision making and close the loop on patient care.

Patient Communication

  • Patient Education: Ongoing communication with patients and their family members can be automated and delivered via text message to boost engagement and help patients understand the importance of in-network referrals.
  • Patient Referral Follow-Up: Help increase the completion rate of referrals by sending a text to the patient after treatment or discharge to connect them with an in-network provider so they can schedule an appointment.
  • Patient Satisfaction Surveys: Sending links to satisfaction surveys after each healthcare encounter can help you spot and potentially resolve issues that would otherwise impact patient loyalty and HCAHPS scores.

Streamline Patient Referrals to Reduce Patient Leakage

Healthcare networks can propel value-based care and reduce patient leakage with effective clinical collaboration and patient engagement solutions. To learn more about how patient and family engagement supports value-based care initiatives, read the white paper.

Get the White Paper



  1. Dropping the Baton: Specialty Referrals in the United States, The Milbank Quarterly, Mehrotra et al., 2011: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160594/
  2. Referral and Consultation Communication Between Primary Care and Specialist Physicians, Finding Common Ground, JAMA Network, O’Malley, Reschovsky, Jan. 10, 2011: jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/226367
  3. Patient Leakage: A new survey highlights high costs, limited control, Fibroblast, Oct. 2018: fibroblast.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Patient-Leakage-A-new-survey-highlights-high-costs-limited-control-October-2018-1.pdf
  4. Docs Could Avoid 34% of Out-of-Network Patient Referrals with Data, Xtelligent Healthcare Media, LaPointe, J., Aug.31, 2018: revcycleintelligence.com/news/docs-could-avoid-34-of-out-of-network-patient-referrals-with-data