Published in the September 2018 Today’s Hospitalist
TO TEXT OR NOT TO TEXT? That’s the question we ask hospitalists in this month’s cover story.
There are plenty of advantages of digital communication—like texting— over phone calls and pages. Physicians know who is contacting them, for example, and images can be seen with one click. Some hospitals have had so much success with text communication that they claim they have shaved 10 minutes off of transfers.
Despite those advantages, physicians worry that they’ll receive a constant stream of messages on non-urgent matters. They also worry that using devices like phones and tablets will interfere with the already limited time they have with patients.
Those concerns may be real, but hospitals are moving ahead with digital communications anyway. One survey says that about half of health care organizations use some form of secure texting. And countless physicians are taking matters into their own hands, using e-mail or their own phones to talk to other clinicians in a potentially unsecure manner.
To keep up, hospitals and hospitalist programs are coming up with protocols to make sure that physicians aren’t swamped with non-urgent messages. There are no operators, after all, serving as a buffer and making sure physicians aren’t inappropriately interrupted.
But many hospitals are struggling with new communication concerns that need to be addressed: When is making a call better than sending a text? How do you roll out training for the entire staff? And can any electronic communication really be secure? Despite the need for ground rules and iron-clad security, hospitalists are more than willing to see what new communication options can do.
Editor & Publisher