Nurses need safe communications solutions to improve workflow

21 February 2017
With the near ubiquitous proliferation of mobile devices, many nurses and caregivers prefer to do their everyday jobs on their smartphones rather than a computer workstation in order to enhance medical communications. Mobile devices and the ever growing mobile ecosystem allows them to complete tasks from anywhere on the floor, which in turn lets them spend more time with their patients.

A 2015 survey from market intelligence firm InCrowd shows that 95 percent of 241 responding nurses reported that they own a smartphone, and 88 percent use smartphone apps in their daily work. The survey results also illustrate a trend of nurses relying more on their mobile devices to answer medical question than their co-workers. Fifty-two percent of a subset of users said they’d use an app to find the answer to a question instead of asking a colleague, and 32 percent said they’d consult their smartphone instead of a physician.

Unlike physicians, who are looking for apps that can retrieve information, enter orders and push notifications, nurses need apps that assist their workflow, offer quick information and coordinate multiple activitiesBerger quotes Eric Wicklund, writin for MobiHealthNews. Therefore, the ideal nurse app should be able to help them find information quickly and perform several different tasks, “from taking care of multiple patients to addressing orders from doctors.”

Clinical communications solution

Delving into Samsungs ehealth solutions, Berger comes up with TigerText, a clinical communications solution that runs on the Samsung Galaxy lineup of Android smartphones. This app, Berger writes, improves medical communications for nurses by connecting care teams through “real-time messaging and alerts, leading to greater collaboration, improved productivity and higher patient satisfaction,” all while remaining HIPAA-compliant.

The secure texting capabilities of TigerText enable efficient and reliable communication that far exceeds the capabilities of older technologies such as pagers, while allowing for the secure transmission of files, images, photos and voice recordings. The TigerText app allows nurses to perform multiple functions on their smartphones, such as:

  • Obtaining instant access to physicians and other care team members, and the ability to see when they’ve read text messages.
  • Using Roles and Role-based Scheduling Automation to know who’s on call at any given time.
  • Placing phone calls with a single tap.
  • Receiving automated alerts from the EHR, lab, nurse call or ADT system.
  • Creating groups for a patient or care team to improve collaboration.
  • Sending attachments and forwarding or recalling messages.
  • Securely conversing with users outside the hospital system, such as PCPs or a patient’s family.

TigerText’s medical communications platform offers many benefits for both patients and staff, Berger believes. The real-time exchange of information enables better overall communication between healthcare workers, leading to improved care coordination and an increase in productivity, leading to more time with patients. This boost in efficiency results in greater patient satisfaction and increased levels of compliance.

Data Security

Since mobile healthcare apps such as TigerText involve the collection, storage and transmission of patient-generated health data, this sensitive data needs to be protected both on the device itself and at the application layer. Here the Samsung Knox mobile security platform provides protection. By combining encrypted messaging and hardware protection, healthcare organizations will feel secure that communications among their nurses and physicians on their smartphones will meet the criteria set forth by HIPAA and the HITECH Act.

Nurses need choices

Healthcare facilities considering the use of smartphones for clinical staff and caregivers need to think about secure communication as part of the patient care process. Nurses need choices in communication methods, including secure, encrypted texting and email. Communication must be put in a clinical context to properly identify the patient, who should be at the heart of the exchange. Pictures, such as that of a patient’s wound, should be included among available communication methods, even if the photos can’t be uploaded to the EHR.

More importantly, in the complex world of nursing, we need to look for solutions that provide the same cognitive support that smartphones do in our personal lives. Just as personal smartphones remind us that our best friend’s birthday is next Saturday, nurses need employer-provided smartphones and technology to help them perform their duties and communicate with co-workers in clinical practice.