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BYOD Brings Controllable, Secure Communications to Physicians

· Kim Tucker,

Which are you first, a doctor or a mom?

Doctor and soccer mom, Dr. Nell Long takes her daughter to the last game of the season, which will be followed by a barbeque and award ceremony. But she is in a dilemma because a patient she’s covering is likely to move from the cardiac care unit to a step-down telemetry bed.

What if she receives a message that her patient is complaining of chest pain after the move? At home, she can log into her computer and determine the course of action, but there is no access to a computer at the soccer field.

So, the choice for her is to either break the promise she made to her daughter or to take a risk that her patient would not suffer any complication during the time she is attending her daughter’s soccer match.

But, does that have to even be a choice?

She wishes that there were a way for her to see ECG screenshots on her iPhone. If almost every other piece of information is available in the palm of your hand through smartphones, why can’t it be the same for physicians?

Presence is key to communication.

In a survey conducted in early 2014, at my last hospital employer, we learned that most physicians preferred a single communication device. In fact, many had already shifted from using a pager to directing paging messages to the text-messaging service of their cell phone. Physicians on the medical staff of a hospital understand that they must be available to the hospital, whether personally or through a “coverage arrangement” so that there’s always a physician available. Modern cellular telephony has become the cornerstone of that communication for most physicians, especially because it permits the physician voice contact with the bedside nurse or other clinician caring for the patient.

More recently, text messaging clinical information has become more widely used, just as text messaging has gained greater use with the arrival of “smartphones,” especially among physicians. A secure messaging application on physician’s personal device (BYOD), can both address HIPAA concerns, while empowering physicians to have complete control over their availability for professional communication. That’s what PatientSafe’s clinical communications application does.

Dr. Long remains ‘Available’ in her clinical communications application for updates. While at the game, she receives a message that the patient had more chest pain and shortly thereafter an image of the patient’s new ECG and previous ECG. She sees that the patient is having more ischemia as an extension of the heart attack, and calls her
interventionist partner after forwarding him the ECGs and asking him to ‘Assign’ himself to the patient. After a brief discussion, Dr. Long confirms that her partner will be taking the patient back to the cath lab and will be with the patient for several hours, so, she advises her partner that she’ll be “switching off” so she can concentrate on being a Mom for her daughter the rest of the afternoon.

Physicians are people, too.

Many physicians chose their profession in part because of the autonomy it allows them in their work and in their personal lives. PatientSafe’s BYOD communication tool allows physicians both the capacity to directly participate in their patients’ care and to also manage their availability so that the physician is able to fully participate in all aspects of life. The clinical context delivered along with the messages about their patients may often permit a more confident, quicker decision on behalf of the physician’s patients thereby reducing cognitive workload and anxiety so that time spent away from patient care responsibilities is truly refreshing.

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