Converting Unread Messages Into Better Patient Care

The incredibly fast rise in smart phone use has caught many healthcare institutions off guard and in a reactionary mode as mobile phone ownership has risen from introduction in 2007 to over 95% by 2018. Televisions by comparison took over 30 years to reach over 90% homes (Pew Research 2018).

As a result, hospital leaders across the country are urgently weighing the benefits and the risks associated with system provided mobile devices and BYOD policies. As many providers put away pagers in favor of their cell phones, systems are left scrambling to understand the implications.

Added complexity and new risks

While discussions around security have been commonplace, conversations about system reliability and the effect of new devices on urgent messaging and response times are rising to the forefront.  Could the use of cell phones actually improve response times or would they complicate and negatively impact response times?

Pagers have owned the urgent messaging space and, while not always reliable, were seen as simple to use.   Mobile phones seem to get smarter the by minute, with increased functionality that could improve communication dramatically but they also bring a new level of complexity.

Taking a personal and proactive approach

When we launched RapidConnect, we knew that as a “pager replacement solution” our RapidConnect app needed to offer “download and go” simplicity, but also recognized that the support model behind it had to be highly engaged and proactive in order to address challenges users have with their smart devices.

Based on our direct knowledge of the healthcare environment, we knew that every single message has the ability to impact the care of one person’s life; and that reliability needs to be measured one message at a time, not in averages, and that a one-size-fits all approach to messages wouldn’t work. Many messages are urgent and need attention right away.  Some messages are for referrals and appointments, and need to be scheduled soon but not urgently.  All are important and impact a patient’s care.  Regardless of content and urgency, having a message go unread will delay care, create frustration and prompt users to find alternative methods of communication which may not necessarily meet HIPAA or institution compliance.

Relying on robust system alerts and automated notifications, account managers at RapidConnect reach out to users in order to avoid any missed communication.   Thousands of messages are sent through RapidConnect each day.  Messages are answered in a timely manner due to checks and balances built in to the system. However, on average MDI account managers are alerted to 15 messages each day that require their attention. Some of these 15 interactions are urgent.

Based on our experience providing proactive service to thousands of providers, we have uncovered the following common challenges that users face:

  1. Notifications are turned off on the phone
  2. They have lost or misplaced their phone
  3. They recently got a new phone and forgot to restore their apps
  4. RapidConnect email reminders have mistakenly been blacklisted from their office email system

We have found that users are very appreciative our follow-up, and that our assistance has helped create trust in us and RapidConnect.  In some cases, depending on the type of message, account managers may also follow up with not only the recipient but also the sender to let them know their message will be read shortly.  Proactive communication by our account managers also keeps users engaged and builds confidence.  Every user that remains highly engaged impacts every other user’s experience and has the ability to impact patient care in an arena where minutes really do matter.

As an added value, we also provide message traffic reports to some services.  RapidConnect, unlike most paging systems, provides detailed reports including volume of messaging by service, response times, follow up messaging, and analysis of use by time of day.

Providing impactful data ensures that each service or department can also work with their team to reduce response times.

Improved communication and collaboration

From a technology standpoint, our approach also increases user adoption as they grow to trust RapidConnect

Most importantly, that approach enables better collaboration across the entire care continuum, and ultimately results in better patient care.