Replacing the Beeper with the Smart Phone in Healthcare
Article written by Marci Lawing
For many people, the pager is a device of the past. Yet, many doctors and hospitals still rely heavily on them. According to a recent article, Why Doctors Still use Pagers by Allison Bond, it is estimated that as many as 85 percent of hospitals still enforce pagers as being the number one source of communication. With today’s technology, one would assume that there would be a device that could provide all the functionalities needed in healthcare.
Back in the 1950’s, pagers often referred to as “beepers”, were considered an “in” item. They became a status symbol of sorts and were worn proudly on the belts of almost 61 million users; healthcare providers included. In the healthcare world, it usually meant an emergency was near, or a patient needed medical assistance. Fast forwarding to present day, the new “in” item, is the Smart Phone. In theory, the Smart Phone has been evolved to be the only device you will ever need to carry, because it can do the job of multiple devices.
The Shift of Technology
Doctors and nurses rely on pagers because pagers use satellite to get a signal instead of a cell tower, so the message is received promptly and without any delay in sending. What if Smart Phones had all the functions of a pager, and used a safe, secure, and strong system to get the message sent? There are numerous advantages of using a Smart Phone instead of a beeper, including software programs and applications that allow the user to send and receive secure messaging. For example, see article TriageLogic Announces New Encrypted and HIPAA-compliant Text Feature. The physician is given a PIN number which, when entered, opens up a link with the message from the nurse. The message self-deletes after a certain period of time, in order to remain compliant with patient privacy regulations. With this HIPAA secure method, the nurses are able to include patient information, giving the physician more information quicker and more efficiently.
Other Advantages of the Smart Phone
Smart Phones also offer the capability of texting back and forth. Now both parties can communicate without dialing a phone. This added convenience allows both the sender and receiver to multitask and become more productive. There is no longer a need to “find a private area with a phone” to return pager notifications. For example, technology will soon be available at TriageLogic that allows the nurse and physician to “chat” in a secure chat area that is HIPAA compliant. All communication will be linked to the patient chart so any verbal orders from the doctor can be handled with less chance of miscommunication.
Finally, cell phones also offer other features not available with a pager, such as the ability to recharge practically anywhere, advantages of the camera and GPS functions, and other built- in software to further assist in the care of patients. Most Smart Phones, if lost, can be tracked down with the use of GPRS (General Packet Radio Services)
Looking Forward to the Future
As with all technology, Smart Phones are not without their drawbacks. One must still consider the notorious “dead zones” and “dropped call” situations, and cases where the receiver is in an area that has poor reception. It won’t be long until the future technology will allow Smart Phones to become the primary device used in healthcare. Even though the advantages and new features available to physicians and other health care providers are highly desired, a backup method of communication should always be considered for those times when it is critical that the message is received.
Still not convinced? Leave a comment and tell us what you think, we would love to hear what you have to say!