By Katie Wike, contributing writer
According to a study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the use of text messaging systems over traditional paging systems may actually benefit patients and shorten their hospital stays.
A study conducted by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that use of a text message based hospital communication system, rather than traditional paging systems, can benefit both hospital staff and those under their care.
Fierce Mobile Healthcare reports the research team studied 11,500 patients in two hospitals. In one hospital, staff abandoned the traditional paging system for secure text messages on select floors and saw the average length of stay fall from six to 5.4 days in a month. The other hospital, which kept the paging system, saw no change in the average length of stay.
“Many forms of communications within the hospital are shifting mediums in part due to the rising adoption of smartphones and new mobile applications. However, little is known about how these changes impact clinical care and patient outcomes,” said the study's lead author, Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS, an assistant professor of Medicine and Health Care Management in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School, and a staff physician at the Crescenz VA Medical Center in an announcement. “Our findings suggest that mobile secure text messaging may help to improve communication among providers leading to more efficient care coordination and allowing patients to leave the hospital sooner.”
One concern was patients released sooner may return to the hospital more frequently, but the research team noted that the decrease in length of stay had no correlation to readmission of patients.
“Many hospitals still use one-way paging systems which are often unsecure, have limited mobile access, and require either a phone call or face-to-face communication to close the loop. Most email and SMS text messaging platforms are also not secure and prohibited by hospitals,” said Neha Patel, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, director of Mobile Strategy and Applications for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and co-author on the study. “Mobile secure text messaging offers asynchronous communication that allows providers to close the loop quickly and hold group chats that involve the entire care team.”