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Secure Texting in Hospitals Could Improve Patient Care, Save Thousands

Efficient communication and collaboration among physicians, nurses and other medical providers is critical to the delivery of patient care and the overa...

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|Jul 25|magazine8 min read

Efficient communication and collaboration among physicians, nurses and other medical providers is critical to the delivery of patient care and the overall prosperity of a hospital. Hospital communication inefficiencies can also ramp up healthcare costs, averaging an annual loss of approximately $1.75 million per hospital (based in the United States), according to a report by the Ponemon Institute.

The ability to satisfy the clinical need for more efficient communications technologies needs to be balanced with safeguarding protected health information to meet both compliance and security requirements, especially those of HIPAA. Currently, the healthcare industry relies primarily on pagers to communicate with other team members but it has been noted to create inefficiencies that can have a considerable impact on both the economy and productivity of a hospital.

More than 400 healthcare providers in the United States were surveyed in the Imprivata Report on the Economic Impact of Inefficient Communications in Healthcare about the communications process during patient admissions, coordinating emergency response teams and patient transfers. Respondents agreed that significant time is wasted during each process, resulting in a loss of more than $11 billion industry-wide.

One solution that respondents agreed would save the average hospital roughly $359,000 a year in time savings is secure text messaging.

HIPAA-compliant text messaging systems could help care teams speed up hospital discharges, share patient information to make informed decisions for medical consults, and reduce total expenditures.

“Paging is time consuming and error prone, and it takes clinicians away from their patients,” Lynne Dunbrack, researcher vice president for IDC Health Insights, told TestCountry. “Secure text messaging can address these challenges by pushing communications, alerts and notifications to their mobile devices wherever they are.”

The transition to saving time and being more efficient is already underway, as healthcare institutions nationwide are already using secure forms of communication.

South Carolina’s Beaufort Memorial Hospital began using the secure messaging system Cortext last year for informal purposes. Within two weeks of instituting the change, more than 200 users were on the system and using it to communicate. While patient information is currently excluded from discussions, VP and CIO Ed Ricks eventually wants to involve patients. 

Mount Sinai Hospital similarly adopted a secure group text messaging application to speed up communication between physicians and other healthcare professionals. The app is linked to Amnion, a physician scheduling company, which allows users see who is on call and who isn’t before contacting a doctor.

Ponemon’s report estimates an average of $5.9 billion saved annually upon the integration of secure text messaging in hospitals. It is clear that care providers recognize the deficiencies of pagers and the need to implement more modern solutions.

Successfully striking a balance between utilizing modern and efficient communications technologies, while maintaining patient privacy, could boost productivity, reduce costly waste and contribute to overall better patient care