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The 3 C’s of secure messaging in nursing

All nurses know that without the ability to collaborate effectively, our jobs become significantly more challenging. Every minute of a shift is precious. Wasting time digging around for phone numbers or struggling to find an on-call physician for a patient in pain at 3 a.m. is simply not necessary with the technology available today.

Secure messaging for nurses: Far more than just texting

In previous Spok blog posts, we have talked about the difference between simple texting and secure messaging, which is HIPAA-compliant texting powered by enterprise-wide information connectivity.

Secure messaging goes beyond just sending a message to another care team member. Behind the scenes, it pulls in the latest contact information, on-call schedules, and integrates with the EHR and other clinical systems like nurse call and patient monitoring. It is the not-so-secret weapon in elevating the fight against inefficiency. It is the very definition of getting the right information to the right person at the right time on the right device.

Here are the three C’s of secure messaging in nursing:

1. Communication

Faster communication means our patients can receive better care more quickly! Effective communication brings all members of the care team together in the digital realm and builds in relevant information from the EHR to inform treatment decisions. Communication also includes getting alerts from patient care devices such as telemetry, infusion pumps, nurse call systems, and more, and routing them immediately to the appropriate nurse or technician on duty for follow-up.

The more automated and streamlined our communication becomes, the timelier our care collaboration effort becomes, thus the better our chances are to reduce the risk of serious medical errors to our patients. Here are a few common examples of how improved communication can make a major impact:

  • Speeding up routine care team interaction: Care team members need to stay in touch at all hours of the day and night! A secure messaging app puts accurate contact and clinician scheduling information at your fingertips, thus speeding up the time we can effectively interact with each other.
  • Patient safety/patient falls prevention: Whether it is due to a sense of urgency and/or compromised state of mental awareness, often a patient’s threshold is low after contacting the nurses’ station for assistance out of bed. Routing their requests to the right person’s mobile device first allows for a timelier response by the clinician, reducing the risk of patient falls. Ultimately leading to increased compliance and better patient outcomes!
  • Communicating critical test results: The process for communicating critical patient test results is broken in many hospitals due to a lack of technology and proper follow-through. This can lead to delays and in some rare cases, even lost results. We all know how very time-consuming calling to obtain and report lab and radiology results can be. Automating the notification of critical test results into the patient’s EHR along with notification to the ordering provider can improve the timeliness of reporting these results.

Achieving closed-loop test result communication not only ensures ordering providers are notified and nurses aren’t calling around for results, but it also means patients receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. The Joint Commission has made this specific communication process part of its National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) for years. NPSG 02.03.01 states: Get important test results to the right staff person on time. Secure messaging is an important part of how this happens.

2. Patient care coordination

Patient care coordination is an extension of care team communication. There can be dozens of different workflows that have to be executed seamlessly throughout a patient’s hospital stay to ensure patient care, patient safety, and patient satisfaction—effective communication being a key component. Having a secure messaging app with functionality such as group chats, the ability to search for on-call staff by role, test result routing, and other messaging capabilities can be game changing when it comes to coordinating patient care!

With the ability to exchange patient health information electronically, the scenarios below provide examples as to how nurses can effectively collaborate with providers and ancillary staff in real time, improving the delivery of patient care.

  • Streamlining ADT processes: Many patient care workflows feature critical information exchange points and handoffs. This happens throughout admit, discharge, and transfer (ADT) processes. For example, when events that trigger ADT messages are entered into the EHR, other services — even nonclinical team members like transport or housekeeping — can be automatically notified to smooth and accelerate the patient experience. Secure messaging makes this possible by communicating with all team members, regardless of the device they carry (smartphone, pager, Wi-Fi phone, etc.).
  • Launching rapid response teams: An effective secure messaging app lets nurses search for “Rapid Response Team” and then pulls in the right on-duty staff via their mobile devices to get things moving. Here’s how a rapid response scenario looks with and without secure messaging!
  • Improving ED throughput: For those working in the ED, there are unique communication and coordination challenges, and time is of the essence! It is important to streamline all communication among emergency medicine providers, clinicians handling hospital admissions, and the admitting providers/hospitalists. Discover how TidalHealth Regional Peninsula used secure messaging to reduce ED boarding time by 44 minutes and ED length of stay by 31 minutes, all while dramatically improving their provider/hospitalist satisfaction!
3. Compliance

It’s hard to go a week without reading about yet another health system that has fallen victim to cyberattack and medical record theft. All healthcare organizations must diligently safeguard protected health information such as a patient’s name, address, age, vitals, conditions, medications, test results, payment details, and much more. Consumer SMS texting options such as the standard Apple iOS and Android apps that come with the phone are not secure, and they exist outside a hospital’s information network. This makes them useless when it comes to secure communication, including searching for provider contact information and on-call schedule details.

In today’s world, PHI is part of a nurse’s daily job. Worrying about the intricacies of the security protocols safeguarding it behind the scenes does not need to be one more concern for them. Their focus is patient care and that is where their focus is needed most! A secure messaging app that mitigates the risk of HIPAA violations and fines is a critical element to sharing PHI properly and maintaining the privacy of patients. Nurses, as well as all care team members, can maintain focus on the care of their patients knowing today’s technology has their back when it comes to locking down PHI and achieving compliance…It is as simple as that!

Why secure messaging for nurses matters

If technology is causing more problems than it solves, studies show it can even lead to nurse burnout! But when a solution is intuitive and designed with input from nurses and physicians, it becomes a clinician satisfier. The right solution becomes an essential tool that drives effortless, secure communication and care coordination while making both the patient and clinician experience better, easier, faster…the way it should be!

Topic: Secure messaging