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3 Reasons to Ditch Your Pager…NOW!

It’s been almost twenty years since the world traded in pagers for cellphones, yet in the healthcare industry pagers remain a central tool for communication. In fact, as of 2014 over 90% of hospitals still function on communication systems developed around the pager. While many administrators view medicine’s dependency on pagers as a mere inconvenience that will be tended to when budgeting allows, new research shows that using pagers in healthcare interferes with a team’s ability to achieve continuity of care.healthcare industry communication

As an industry, healthcare is one of the most technologically outdated there is. One is reminded of this fact whenever there is a two-day waiting period to receive a patient’s medical records from another clinic via fax. Consumers, too, are weary of the way our industry lacks continuity of care. Studies show that even elderly patients are eager to participate in healthcare using digital tools.

Despite knowing that technologically advanced communication is the future of continuity of care, the industry is slow in designing a smartphone application specifically for nurses. In fact, only 4% of hospitals currently make use of nursing smartphone applications. Creating a single tool that improves continuity of care and fits all security requirements has proven to be a significant challenge for everyone. And while there has been some advancement, overall the industry has failed to update the communication system to one that encourages—not hinders–a continuity of care model.

As we know, continuity of care is a physician-led, team-based process, serving patients both directly and in coordination with partnered healthcare teams in different settings. Thus effective communication is a central tenant to the continuity of care approach. Only when communication is effective for all parties involved can the patient and physician work together to increase care quality and decrease costs, thus achieving the standards for continuity of care.

At General Medicine, we acknowledge the many ways that both patients and healthcare facilities benefit from communication technologies that facilitate continuity of care. We want to work with organizations who demonstrate a shared passion for continuity of care and healthcare technology, so if you need a reason to ditch the pager, here are three great ones:

Losing the pager will save you time.

It is estimated that a single clinician spends an average of 46 minutes per day waiting for patient information. Such delays add up to 24 full 8-hour workdays per year spent merely waiting to receive information. Besides being a waste of valuable resources and significantly interrupting the continuity of care process, this “down time” opens up more possibilities for medical emergencies to occur while staff is uninformed and therefore unprepared to treat a patient. The potential for causing harm by not fulfilling one’s duties as a medical professional should be enough persuasion for a tech upgrade—especially if you specialize in post-acute care, where that possibility is all the more likely.

More time means more money.

We’re all familiar with the concept that time equals money. The amount of time wasted in communication processes involving pagers adds up to extraordinary numbers. A new study from the Ponemon Institute shows that in 2013 pagers cost hospitals $8.3 billion (for perspective, that’s the same amount of money as the US federal government is trying to save on the Medicare budget with hospital readmission fees). Of that $8.3 billion, the amount of time clinicians spent waiting for patient information accounted for $5.1 billion.

Maintain the security of private information.

Although employee use of personal smartphones is prohibited in 89% of hospitals, in 67% of hospitals nursing staff regularly uses their smartphones for communications to support continuity of care workflow. This shows not only that hospital IT departments don’t have the resources to monitor employees’ use of personal technology on the job, but more importantly that healthcare professionals are remarkably committed to serving their patients as best they can and remain conflicted about upholding information security policy when outdated equipment and compliance issues stifle them. If your staff cares about patients, they are going to choose the most efficient route possible and ignore security policy even though they know they are putting secure information at risk.

General Medicine provides premier continuity of care for each of our patients, using the most time and cost-effective means. Our services are performed exclusively on-sit,e and our focus is to ensure continuity of care and seamless communication with patients and their families. We aim to adapt to your preferred communication technologies, rather than asking you to wait for ours. If you would like to learn more about our high continuity of care standards or other services offered by General Medicine, please contact us.

 

Tom Prose

CEO at General Medicine, P.C.
As founder and CEO of General Medicine PC, the nation’s premier post-hospitalist care company,Tom Prose leads an exceptional team of internal medicine, geriatrics and healthcare administration specialists.