The pager: it is a healthcare symbol as familiar as the stethoscope draped around a doctor’s neck. Pagers have been an essential part of the doctor’s toolkit since their introduction in the 1950’s. There have been many, many technological advances in healthcare since then, but pagers have endured.
There are several reasons why pagers have been in use since the Eisenhower presidency. Chief among these is reliability. Pagers provide a much more dependable means of contact in urgent situations than wall-mounted phones or intercoms. Pagers are also secure: the messages go directly to the doctor and can be encrypted to protect patient information.However, there are many reasons why it may be finally time to retire the pager. First of all, maintaining outdated pager technology is expensive. A 2013 study by the Ponemon Institute showed that US hospitals were losing over $8 billion a year upgrading and maintaining pager-friendly infrastructure. Also, pagers only allow for a one-way delivery of information. A doctor who gets a page still needs to use a phone to respond. And, not insignificantly, pagers are redundant: every doctor with a pager strapped to his or her side also carries a much more powerful means of communication: a smartphone.
The primary barrier to utilizing smartphones as a means of communication between medical professionals has been their lack of security. Standard text messages aren’t HIPAA-approved; they lack encryption and other essential security measures to protect patient information. The sheer volume of text messages sent and received by most people also raises concerns: it is too easy for time-sensitive communication to get lost in the sea of less-urgent texts. For these reasons and more, it seemed as if pagers, such an antiquated bit of technology everywhere else, were around to stay in hospitals.
That is about to change. Enter AMTELCO’s 1Call miSecureMessages. This simple-to-use app provides HIPAA-compliant end-to-end message encryption, utilizes Wi-fi or 3G/4G networks to effectively move large amounts of data, and streamlines the communication process through a highly efficient message log feature. Best of all, it operates through the healthcare professional’s smartphone.
While doctors should still hold on to their stethoscopes, miSecureMessages allows them to finally retire that pager.