Debugging the "Electronic Nurse"
September 20, 2006 -- Today we convinced ALR Technologies, Inc. to change the informal name of its new ALRT500 (right) from "Electronic Nurse" to a name that does not suggest that the machine can replace a human nurse. The ALRT500 is a home health management device that aids in treatment compliance and monitoring of those with chronic disease. However, it does not make professional judgments and take skilled clinical actions based on years of college-level science education, as nurses do. After the Center sent an email outlining our concerns (below), we got a call from Wendy Prabhu, President of Mercom Capital Group, ALR's investment relations firm. Ms. Prabhu said that ALR had no intention of offending nurses, and she promised that ALR would change the "Electronic Nurse" name out of respect for them. She noted that the company works with nurses every day and values their work tremendously. She assured us that ALR President Stan Cruitt feels the same way. We commend ALR Technologies and Mercom Capital Group for being remarkably responsive to nurses' concerns about their product, and for taking immediate steps to address the situation.
Dear Ms. Prabhu,
I am writing in regard to your "electronic nurse" machine. I urge you to change its name to something that does not imply that this machine can do all an educated nurse can do. This is degrading to nursing, which is already staggering under a global nursing crisis created in part by inaccurate images such as the one perpetuated by your company.
We have done recent analyses on the marketing of a machines such as yours. The links to our analyses are here "$70 machine claims to be "nurse;" background check underway" and "Software operates as journalist!" I urge you to read them.
The Center for Nursing Advocacy, which I direct, is an international 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to increase public understanding of nursing through improved accuracy in media portrayals of nursing. The Center has worked in cooperation with major corporations to create accurate images of nursing. In 2005, a Center campaign persuaded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to change the name of its major annual minority health campaign from “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day” to “Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day,” in order to better reflect the key roles nurses play in addressing the very disparities the campaign targets. Center campaigns have won Media Awards from the American Academy of Nursing in 2004 and 2005. The Center's 2005 AAN award was for our Skechers/Christina Aguilera campaign, in which more than 3000 supporters sent letters to the Skechers shoe company about a prominent naughty nurse ad. The company pulled the ad worldwide. The Center's 2004 AAN award recognized our relentless efforts to improve the portrayal of nursing on NBC's influential "ER," efforts that seem to be having some effect, as recent episodes reflect attempts to address key issues they have been raising with the show's producers since 2001. In late 2004, television psychologist Dr. Phil suggested on the air that the health care system is full of "cute little nurses" who are out to "seduce and marry" physicians "because that's their ticket out of having to work as a nurse." After 1400 of the Center's supporters flooded the show with emails in response to our campaign, Dr. Phil issued at least two on-air statements of support for nursing. And in 2005, Gillette pulled a TAG Body Spray naughty nurse commercial in response to a Center campaign. This was one in a string of Center successes in discouraging degrading nurse advertising and product placement by major corporations including Wal-Mart, Disney, CVS, Pennzoil, Tickle, Clairol, Physicians Formula and others.
Ms. Prabhu, I hope we can resolve this issue soon. Do you have time free this week in which we may speak on the phone? Thank you for your time.
Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland (MD) USA 21212-2937