Towards the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, pagers took the world by storm. By using a simple character and numeric messaging system, this wireless technology served as a method to better connect individuals. As technology continued to advance, pagers were soon on the brink of extinction because of its successors, the mobile phone and smart device. Today, in a society attached to their smartphones, pagers are now considered a thing of the past, tucked away in the 90s along with butterfly clips and mood rings, but in one industry they still serve a very relevant purpose -- healthcare.
According to a recent study conducted by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Analytics (HIMSS), nine out of ten hospitals across the United States still use pagers as a source of communication between departments. Pagers do have some advantages; they are lightweight, compact, and do not require charging. However, in an industry known for innovative technology and sophisticated equipment, the integration of mobile devices will soon be inevitable. But, why should hospitals make the switch sooner rather than later? Here are a few advantages of making the switch:
Reduction of costs
Although the initial expenses of upgrading to mobile devices can be substantial, the overall investment will help reduce expenditures in the long-term. According to HIMSS Analytics, hospitals currently using pagers as their main source of communication are paying almost 45 percent per month more than if they were using alternative technologies. That is around $179,000 annually, which calculates to $9 a month per device. By integrating mobile devices into operations and discontinuing pager networks, healthcare facilities can lower costs by $4 per device and allocate the savings to other pressing items.
A disadvantage of pagers is their lack of versatility and ability to connect to more than one network; whereas mobile devices have the capability to connect to multiple networks. Additionally, mobile devices are capable of automatically connecting to the hospital’s secure WiFi network without requiring a cellular contract, ultimately resulting in cost-savings. However, for an additional fee, hospital’s have the option of connecting mobile devices to outside internet networks in case there is ever internet failure at the facility.
According to a survey by Ponemon Institute, a technology research organization, the loss in productivity by using pagers and outdated technology, costs hospitals $8.3 billion annually. This is mainly because of the lack of enhanced two-way capabilities and features. By incorporating mobile devices into hospital operational systems, facilities can see dialogue between team members become more efficient, patient discharge times decrease, improvement in patient-flow processes, significant reductions in inter-departmental phone calls, and increased team productivity.
Mobile devices have a multitude of capabilities. By equipping team members with mobile devices they will be able to have 24/7 access to on-call schedules, contact directories, and Electronic Medical Records. In addition, new innovative systems and programs, such as apps, software upgrades, and secure messaging, can be continually added and updated to help streamline operational processes. An example of this is BedWatch, a cloud-based patient throughput system. BedWatch’s secure, mobile-friendly system allows EVS, nurses, and transport teams to have a real-time notifications of room statuses, delays, and transports to improve patient-flow and proficiency in patient discharge methods. BedWatch also includes secure messaging capabilities that are HIPAA-compliant and provide substantial efficiency improvements for clinical and support service teams across healthcare systems.
Nobody would argue that we are living in a world of rapidly evolving technology, which is integrating more and more into our daily routine. Decades ago, it would have taken an entire room to house the computing power that can now fit in the palm of our hand. Although, upgrading technological infrastructure can be costly, it can be even more costly to risk both decline in patient satisfaction and smooth operations by keeping outdated technology.