Replacing Pagers with Secure Texting: 5 Essential Considerations
Pagers, who cares? Aren’t they extinct like those humpback Television sets? Why am I talking about this antiquated communication device in the era of Google Glass?
Even though businesses, by and large, have been replacing pagers for some time, the healthcare industry still keeps on holding on to these for obvious reasons – It brings a reliable and simple way to getting in touch with a physician or nurse when a patient needs urgent care.
Now many in healthcare are in the process of ditching the pagers for other reasons – the cost of managing pagers, proliferation of smartphones and better cellular coverage.
Pager Replacement Solutions – The Age of Smartphone for Secure Texting
Secure texting on smartphones is one obvious choice to replace the hospital pagers. First, secure texting has emerged as an alternative for health care professional who predominantly use SMS to text patient information. Secure texting provides HIPAA compliance and reduces likelihood HIPAA breaches from BYOD smartphones. Now it can be utilized for paging too.
The following considerations need to be made before migrating from pagers to secure texting.
Reliability of Message Delivery
Secure texting is predominantly provided through an App on a smartphone. The App must provide a reliable way of receiving messages whether the App is active or not. Second, the secure texting service should provide some way of escalating to other forms of communication if the message is not delivered or read in time. For example, an automated call to the preferred phone as part of escalation process would improve reliability significantly.
Message Delivery Status
Status of the message is critical as it provides valuable information to the sender of the message. For example, if the recipient of the message has turned off the smartphone or out of cellular coverage, the status would help sender to take additional actions to reach the recipient or alternative person. Secure texting app should at least report pending, delivered and read statuses. One nice feature that not only helps in more reliable communication but also helps in compliance and auditing is the ability to request an acknowledgment. When recipient acknowledges the message, the sender knows for sure that the recipient has understood the content of the message. No more ambiguity in communication.
Sounds and Alerts
Health care providers work in quiet places such as ICU and patient rooms as well as noisy environments such as the dialysis chambers. The secure texting app should provide the ability to remind provider of an incoming message distinctly and repeatedly. The app shall also provide easy customization of volume, vibration, repeat interval and provide “Do Not Disturb” mode so that providers can use the App in various care settings.
Change is not easy. Providers have been using pagers for decades. Instead of ditching all pagers at once, provide a smooth migration from pagers to secure texting. Choose a secure texting service for healthcare that offers seamless communication with pagers during migration. So that a nurse station can page as well as secure text the user based on their choice of device.
Last but not least is training the users. Some secure texting apps are as intuitive as SMS or Instant Messaging on desktop computers. However tasks such as setting up a passcode, knowing about message status, setting sounds and alerts, and deleting the old messages need watching demo videos or attending a live training session. Bypassing this step might cause user frustration and revert to using familiar hospital pager system.