Mobile messaging is happening all around us, and most every person that you know regularly uses texting. Many businesses have found that by using texting in their day-to-day activities, they are able to cut down on emails, calls, and communicating with other employees.
One area of practice that can greatly benefit from text messaging is the medical sector. In fact, of all types of businesses, the healthcare industry is one that needs instant communication more than most others. Being able to reach staff members for emergency situations, communicating with doctors for advice, and staying in touch with patients makes instant texting a sure solution.
The Importance of Communication in Healthcare
Nowhere is communication more necessary than in healthcare. It is vital that nurses and physicians have an easy, quick way to relay important information regarding patients. All it takes is a single error in communication to lead to catastrophic effects for patients. Healthcare providers need an efficient way to communicate with staff to avoid mistakes.
Per Pew Research, two-thirds of Americans have smartphones, and many of these owners use their devices as entry points to the Internet. Smartphones improve productivity, and more medical professionals today are using their smartphones.
One study by the York University, University Health Network (UHN), and Trillium Health Partners tested text messaging between doctors and nurses and found that the communication was not only a positive factor, but it also was a lifesaver. The study showed that while healthcare communication through texting can save lives, doctors and nurses need text correctly and accurately to make a difference.
Software like Deputy and TextMagic can help simplify the communication process. Deputy now has mobile features for the healthcare sector, including biometric facial recognition, training and certification tracking, and an updated compliance rules engine. Healthcare providers looking to incorporate these types of software as a communication channel not only have the ability to avoid staffing mistakes, but also ensures quality care for patients.
Ways Medical Staff Can Use Mobile Messages to Stay Connected
Text messaging does more than just build the doctor-patient relationship. In fact, it can be used for more efficient communications in-house. Some ways that medical practices can benefit from the use of text messaging include:
- Share Patient Vitals: When more than one staff member is working on the same patient, SMS can ensure that all members have up-to-date information. Text messages can share vitals from a nurse to a physician, allowing the physician to assess the patient’s condition and give further instructions remotely.
- Communicating Dosage Instructions: Physicians can use text messages to communicate dosages to nursing staff and medical assistants. This will reduce delays in treatment time, which means improved patient care.
- Alerts for Complications and Emergency Situations: Texting can alert staff members about patient allergies or known complications with medications. This means quick response time to save lives.
- Faster In-House Communication: SMS can speed up in-house communications. It can be used to notify staff members of upcoming events or meetings, discuss policies, remind physicians of their schedules, and let the nursing staff know which doctor they are assigned to that day. This can all be accomplished quickly, without worrying about a lost or unread email. Instant text notifications can even be sent in the middle of the night – ensuring the recipient receives and sees the message when they wake up instead of waiting for them to check email.
Texting Can Benefit Mobile Staff, Too
Mobile nursing staff, such as palliative care, in-home nurses, and other support roles performed outside of the hospital or physician’s office can equally benefit from text messages.
Text messages can be delivered instantly to these mobile employees. They can receive essential patient updates, confirm their schedules for the day, and alert staff back at the home office about any issues.
Text messages have become second nature to most people, and using SMS in health care can easily be implemented. One important item to remember is that traditional forms of communication among healthcare professionals often requires setting up a robust HIPAA-compliant system that costs thousands of dollars. Smaller physician practices may not have the budget to create such a system.
Luckily, text messaging is a viable option regardless of the budget. Small offices and large hospitals can still use text messages to communicate with in-house and mobile staff members while keeping the technology lean at the base.
Steps to Implement an SMS Communication for Healthcare
Implementing text messaging is more than just getting employee numbers and sending texts. You can implement a sophisticated system that you can include in your HIPAA compliance program.
To do this, ensure that you:
- Use a Single Source for Messages: You want an SMS program that allows you to send text messages to recipients from an online database or app. You can communicate with patients and staff through texting, but you also want to also ensure the message is delivered.
- Maintain Professionalism: Even with a single source to manage your text messages and numbers for staff, you must be professional with the messages you send. Look at every text message as a face-to-face conversation with a patient or co-worker. Also, consider every text message as an addition to a patient’s chart; therefore, send messages that you would want to be seen in that patient’s chart – and possibly reviewed by outside sources during compliance audits.
- Have a Text Policy: Text policies are essential. You cannot release private patient information. Therefore, train all staff in proper text protocol, and limit the information shared via text messages to abide by all policy requirements.
- Sanitize: Have a policy in place to sanitize all devices that are associated with the texting platform. That includes inspections, deletion of sensitive data, and removing numbers when employees are no longer active.
Text is a Worthwhile Solution to Bridge the Gap in Healthcare Communication
Healthcare is all about timing. When you have a solution that bridges the gap between voicemail, phone, and email, you have a communication method that ensures medical professionals receive messages quickly in order to take better care of their patients.
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