By Tom Curtin
Hospital communication systems are complex. Yet many hospitals select one communications method—secure messaging—in the hope that a texting solution or an app is going to be their panacea.
When hospital staff research communications companies in the healthcare space, they may not realize that while these businesses offer texting products, that is all they offer. Having just that one part of a communication solution, which involves systems and software from other departments, will not support what hospital care teams need to deliver a great patient experience.
The goal of every hospital is to provide the best care in the most efficient way possible to their patients. Having a secure messaging app is important, but it is only part of an effective communication protocol. It is paramount for hospitals to have a holistic communication platform so that a secure messaging app can access EHR, integrate with other communication systems, and take advantage of known data to provide reports.
Hospital medical and IT staff should consider the following five key questions before selecting a secure messaging app.
Will the app deliver messages to the right people, at the right time? Be certain the app can integrate with your hospital’s on-call schedules. Everyone needs to be able to find the staff or care team they need in an instant and contact each person how they prefer.
Is it easy to integrate the app with multiple systems? Do your patient room systems, as well as your EHR, communicate with your care teams? Then your app should too. Does the app support API integration to your nurse call and alarm systems so it can send critical messages to the right staff? Maintaining multiple systems takes multiple people, which leads to working in silos. Therefore, the app needs to provide simple architecture so it’s easy to implement and maintain.
3. Ease of Use
Is the app easy to use? The app should have features that are easy to use so training is fast and simple. Losing time spent on training takes away from patient care.
Can staff easily manage the app? What happens when hospital staff must add or remove users? How are app updates and new releases handled? Does the company offer reliable customer support and troubleshooting help? Providing care for patients happens twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Hospital staff should be able to rely on customer support for the app 24/7 as well.
5. Workflow Impact
Does the app improve workflows? Hospital staff use multiple communication tools, and they don’t need another tool that provides the same functions as other devices already in use. The app should integrate seamlessly with existing hospital systems, save staff time, enhance the patient experience, improve clinical communications, and support reporting functions.
A stand-alone secure messaging app, or messaging app company, will not be able to address all the communication pain points within a hospital. However, when used in combination with communications solutions that offer scripting, directories, on-call scheduling, emergency notifications, and other web-based applications, a secure mobile messaging app used by medical staff will help patients in the most timely way. This gives the patient the best service possible.
Tom Curtin is the president of Amtelco and their 1Call Healthcare Division. Amtelco is a leading provider of innovative communication applications. They develop software solutions and applications designed for the specific needs of healthcare organizations.[This article first appeared in AnswerStat]