When it comes to instantaneous communication between clinicians and other staff members in an NHS trust, in the past options have been a little limited. The traditional solution was to use pagers – which for all intents and purposes are asynchronous and one-way. This mean that the receiver of the call does not know what it is regarding, and simply must respond by either calling the person back or speaking with them face-to-face.
The problem with pagers
As mentioned, pagers as a method of communication are not able to offer any detail on the situation. The recipient is not aware of the urgency or the details of the call. This can make it difficult for clinicians and other frontline staff to prioritise tasks or patient care. Receiving a pager call can interrupt care, as the clinician is not able to ascertain which situation is more urgent. Additionally, there is a limited evidence trail of communication – which of course could be key in a complex medical case.
The Department of Health and Social Care have ordered the removal of pagers from the NHS by 2021. In addition, NHS trusts have been advised that they will be expected to have a phase-out plan in place by the end of this month (September 2020). Some initial pilot projects have taken place and shown great success. One of supplier partners, MedicBleep, delivered a solution in partnership with BT at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which proved to save junior doctors 48 minutes per shift and nurses 21 minutes per shift on average.
The accepted alternative to communication via pager is via secure messaging apps. There are now a number of solutions on the market, delivering varying levels of integration, functionality and capability. With that in mind, here are three clear advantages of using secure messaging apps over pagers in healthcare.
As we’ve already explored, communication via pager isn’t truly instantaneous. It’s one-way – the recipient will receive a call, but the caller will have to wait to hear back from the recipient. In the meantime, the caller has little no idea of how, when and whether the recipient will respond to their page. They may not even be able to verify that the person received the page until they receive confirmation from them.
Communication via messaging apps allows for instant two-way communication where both parties can clearly see whether and when their message was received and read. This, as we’ve already explored with the MedicBleep example, could shave vital seconds or even minutes off response times.
Another significant advantage of using secure messaging apps for communication is the ability to integrate with other systems. With many healthcare systems stretched to their limits (without taking into account the current circumstances), any time saved on intensive admin or data entry processes could be vital. Many messaging apps offer integration with Electronic Patient Record (EPR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, allowing any communication which could be highly pertinent to the patient’s ongoing care to be added seamlessly to their record without the need for duplication of entry.
Compliance and evidence trails
Messaging apps offer an audit trail of communication that pagers simply cannot. This kind of traceability can be essential during the course of a patient’s care, especially if they have long term care requirements. Additionally, secure messaging apps can help healthcare organisations to ensure compliance with key data standards and legislation such as GDPR and NHS IG. Using secure messaging gives a healthcare organisation more control over communication and potentially sensitive information which although confidential could be vital to the providing care.
Secure messaging is an example of just one of the innovations which is transforming healthcare. To learn about even more, join us from 17th-18th November for 2 days of collaboration and innovation with the sector’s thought leaders at Virtual HPN Expo – the UK healthcare sector’s biggest ever virtual event. Register for your spot now: https://virtualhpnexpo.com/register-to-attend/