As hospitals start converting more patient data into electronic forms, organizations could also benefit from an upgrade to their communication methods, according to a recent report.
Hospitals in the U.S. lose a total of $8.3 billion dollars a year because of older and outdated communication methods and technology, according to a recent study published by the Ponemon Institute and Imperva.
Those losses were caused primarily by decreases in doctors’ and nurses’ productivity, as well as longer patient stays.
These days, healthcare providers have access to more electronic patient information, and that means it should be easier to share data within and outside the hospital to improve the quality of care and speed up care delivery.
However, many hospitals still rely on outdated communication tools such as pagers which get in the way of achieving those benefits, according to Ponemon’s survey of 577 healthcare professionals.
Among the clinicians surveyed, each waste an average of 45 minutes per day because of outdated communication technology. These were the biggest time wasters identified in the poll:
- The use of pagers (cited by 52% of respondents as a significant time drain)
- Lack of available WiFi (39%)
- Inadequate email (38%)
- Inability to use text messaging (36%), and
- A ban on using personal mobile devices (28%).
Security concerns remain
Of course, hospitals have some good reasons for lagging behind in the adoption of new technologies — specifically, concerns about the security and privacy of patient data.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything hospitals can do to upgrade. For example, there are secure text messaging platforms available that encrypt messages to prevent them from being intercepted. Those platforms have already started to replace pagers in 23% of hospitals, according to Ponemon’s survey — and an additional 61% of respondents expect to replace pagers with text messaging within the next two years.
Hospitals also plan to adopt online portals in order to communicate with patients — for example, to allow patients to go online and view their own medical records. Most hospitals (78%) surveyed by Ponemon plan to use those web portals in the near future.
And if hospitals decide that allowing clinicians and other staffers to participate in a bring your own device (BYOD) program is worth the risks, there are steps they can take to keep patient data safe.