Despite widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices among healthcare providers, 90 percent of hospitals still use pagers, and overpay by 45 percent to maintain legacy paging services, according to a HIMSS survey of more than 200 hospitals. It found that 9 out of 10 still use pagers, and spend around $180K per year. Another key finding? Healthcare organizations pay $9.19 per month per device for an overall average paging service, while secure messaging apps cost less than $5 per month. Turns out pagers can actually be more expensive than alternative secure messaging solutions.
Enter text messaging, which can help foster a more collaborative working environment, allowing all members of the care team to communicate with each other quickly and efficiently. This technology allows healthcare professionals to access and communicate patient data, text results, send x-rays results, images, and improve collaboration between departments while decreasing the time it takes to diagnose and treat patients. Text messaging can also reduce phone tag and overhead pages, a major problem in busy healthcare organizations.
So why isn’t the technology being adopted at a higher rate?
Pagers have long been a core piece of modern medicine, despite the fact that they’re associated with myriad problems. Not only can they enable interception of messages by unauthorized third parties, pagers also create severe workflow inefficiencies and delays, along with contributing a significant amount of noise. But the pager culture in healthcare is very real, and breaking this habit with a new solution can be more difficult than most organizations and leaders realize.
As they say, “culture eats strategy for lunch,” and so the launch of a new secure messaging solution must be done in the context of change management. Healthcare is ready for change and is willing to reduce unsecure paging and overhead paging, but showing providers the benefits via use cases and proving the reliability of a new secure messaging solution is critical for success and adoption.
Secure messaging solutions are being used to do more than encourage HIPAA compliance. Many secure messaging apps currently exist with care coordination, patient engagement, and home care management capabilities. These apps can generate significant ROI for hospitals, ACOs, and other health care organizations looking to improve quality of care. Below are just a few examples:
- Reduce patient length of stay. By enabling clinicians and physicians to more efficiently communicate and access patient data, these apps accelerate patient diagnosis and discharge timing.
- Prevent referral leakage. Secure messaging and referral leakage prevention capabilities enable physicians to identify and communicate with their fellow network providers. Referring physicians can access their network’s physician directory and/or on call schedule, and deliver consult requests.
- Reduce preventable readmissions, hospitalizations & ED visits. Secure texting apps that include home care aides, caregivers and patients in the care coordination network supports patient-centric communication across the care continuum
- Improve patient satisfaction and patient portal utilization. Patient-facing secure texting apps enable patients to more easily and quickly manage their health care. Ideally, secure messaging solutions can integrate with patient portals.
This is the first of a two-part blog written by Jeff Brown, CIO at Martin’s Point Health Care. The next installment will examine which vendors are market leaders, and what questions health IT leaders need to ask before making a purchase.