Hospital-Based Clinicians’ Use of Technology for Patient Care-Related Communication: A National Survey

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To characterize current use of communication technologies, including standard text messaging and secure mobile messaging applications, for patient care-related (PCR) communication.

METHODS:

We used a Society of Hospital Medicine database to conduct a national cross-sectional survey of hospital-based clinicians.

RESULTS:

We analyzed data from 620 survey respondents (adjusted response rate, 11.0%). Pagers were provided by hospitals to 495 (79.8%) of these clinicians, and 304 (49%) of the 620 reported they received PCR messages most commonly by pager. Use of standard text messaging for PCR communication was common, with 300 (52.9%) of 567 clinicians reporting receipt of standard text messages once or more per day. Overall, 21.5% (122/567) of respondents received standard text messages that included individually identifiable information, 41.3% (234/567) received messages that included some identifiable information (eg, patient initials), and 21.0% (119/567) received messages for urgent clinical issues at least once per day. About one-fourth of respondents (26.6%, 146/549) reported their organization had implemented a secure messaging application that some clinicians were using, whereas few (7.3%, 40/549) reported their organization had implemented an application that most clinicians were using.

DISCUSSION:

Pagers remain the technology most commonly used by hospital-based clinicians, but a majority also use standard text messaging for PCR communication, and relatively few hospitals have fully implemented secure mobile messaging applications.

CONCLUSION:

The wide range of technologies used suggests an evolution of methods to support communication among healthcare professionals.

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