The number one question I’m asked by healthcare IT teams is about implementing Secure Text Messaging on mobile devices. They recognize that without providing a solution, their clinicians will resort to texting using consumer applications on their own personal smartphones for work related communication, regardless of policies prohibiting it. This was confirmed by a study done by Spyglass Consulting Group last year that said 67% of hospitals interviewed reported that staff nurses were using personal smartphones despite hospital policy restrictions. Consumer texting applications lack the necessary security for healthcare and can result in a leak of patient information if a clinician’s device is stolen or lost, potentially exposing the hospital to stiff financial penalties.
It is understandable why staff want to use texting to communicate between each other at work. It has become second nature as most people text in their social lives. Receiving a text is often less disruptive than trying to answer a phone call, as the recipient can respond after they’ve completed a task, such as talking with a patient, and texting is much less annoying to patients than overhead pages.
Fortunately there are now many secure text messaging solutions available for healthcare. These solutions are designed to support a hospital’s requirements, such as security, reliability, accountability and HIPAA compliance; and provide the user with the same familiar look-and-feel of a consumer texting application. They support users working from desktops, workstations and mobile devices running Android or iOS operating systems.
In fact these secure texting solutions can deliver far better user experiences than consumer texting applications by presenting more contextually relevant information to the user. For example, these applications can show an address book highlighting those nurses currently working, or offer secure group texting to staff associated with a particular patient, or allow a user to choose a suitable reply to an incoming text using a single key press. These types of incremental enhancements can improve a user’s productivity and reduce frustration by making workplace communication more efficient.
Many of our application partners in our AIMS Program provide secure text messaging solutions, and also offer additional workflow capabilities like task management, alarm notifications and management, in order to make workers more productive.
I’ll wrap up by adding, as ubiquitous as text messaging has become for communication, there are times when a telephone call is of critical importance, so healthcare IT teams must still ensure their chosen smartphone platform and wireless network infrastructure can reliably deliver high quality voice audio. After all, that patient those clinicians are calling about could be you.