November 13, 2012
Texting Between Physicians on the Rise
Text messaging hasn’t been solely the realm of teenagers. In fact, it’s becoming more and more useful in the business world, not to mention healthcare. A recent survey has found that more than half of all physicians send text messages related to work, both on and off duty.
Naturally, telephone conversations and speaking face-to-face are the most common methods of communication, but when it comes to sending quick messages between hospitals, consultants, specialists or resident physicians, texting is a useful way to reach them.
Pagers are still used in hospitals, but respondents tended to prefer texting from their cell phones over using the hospital-assigned pagers. Most of them even use their personal phones, rather than one from the hospital.
However, this was a small study, so the results may be skewered. Either way, it’s clear that texting is growing in hospital use. This may result in some security problems, as only 10 percent of those surveyed said their institution provides encryption software for texting, so that is an issue that hospitals must consider.
One would also hope that when texting important information, the usual “text speak” would be set aside. While “get 2 the ER stat!” may be acceptable, a message like “4got 2 giv u med info lol” does not belong in the workplace, if just for being a pain read. Still, that’s a small complaint compared to the potential security risks.
Text messaging is the next step from pagers in hospitals, so it’s natural that they’re becoming prevalent. Still, as that’s the case, security issues must be addressed. Phones can store messages sent and received, putting patient information at risk, not to mention the chance of being intercepted. Texting between professionals is perfectly fine, just as long as the information is safe and secure.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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