OnPage incident management

6 Reasons to Think of Pager Replacement Options

Doctor With PagerAntiquated pieces of technology create setbacks in every industry, and in healthcare – it’s the pager!

Pagers are still being used even though they’re not HIPAA compliant and the infrastructure supporting them is dying out. That’s why doctors and healthcare personnel alike need an advanced way to communicate and protect patient information. Here are six reasons to think of pager replacement options.

Reason 1 – Pagers Are Not Encrypted

Most doctors are unaware that pagers don’t provide the needed encrypted communications. Without these encrypted exchanges, HIPAA complaint messaging becomes a daunting task in today’s healthcare environment.

Pager communication must be limited and non-descriptive if doctors are to use them without violating HIPAA regulations. With that said, all doctor-to-hospital communications must require remote wipe capabilities, an encrypted messaging process and a specified contact list.

Though some pagers might meet some of these functionalities, they’re not able to fulfill all the requirements placed by HIPAA. There’s also a significant cost to not using HIPAA compliant communications, as was underlined in the case of Memorial Healthcare System (MHS) – a healthcare service fined $5.5 million for failing to encrypt patient information.

The OnPage Solution – Reach Encryption and HIPAA Compliance

To ensure doctors meet all HIPAA requirements, they need a solution that works and guarantees the protection of patient information. OnPage provides:

  • SSL encrypted two-way messaging
  • Remote wipe capabilities for HIPAA compliance
  • Secure text communications for specified message participants

Reason 2 – Pagers Can Be Hacked

In a recent OnPage study, it was detailed how a U.S. hospital had its pager communication hacked and read by outside parties. As a result, the hospital had to register the violation with the Department of Health and Human Services.

But, the consequences of the breach didn’t stop there. The hospital had to inform the impacted parties about their exposed information, and it then had to invest in new technology to protect patient details and reach a certain level of HIPAA compliance.

The OnPage Solution – Protect Information From Hackers

Pager communications aren’t protected in anyway. Fortunately, when healthcare professionals use the OnPage application on their smartphones, they’re protected in several ways:

  • The phone has a sign on
  • The OnPage application has a sign on as well
  • If the phone is acquired by malicious parties, physicians can remote wipe their messages, safeguarding patient information
  • Messages in transit, if acquired by hackers, will not be clear or readable as OnPage encrypts them

Reason 3 – Pagers Have Only High Priority Pages

As part of its limitations, pagers typically don’t have low versus high priority messaging. So, the distinction between low and high level priority goes undifferentiated through the ring of the same tone.

Unfortunately for healthcare professionals, this means that they’re unable to recognize the urgency of their pages.

The OnPage Solution – Set High and Low Priority

OnPage instantly gives healthcare professionals the ability to recognize the difference between low and high level alerts through audible notifications.

So, how does OnPage do it? Simple. An audible alert that lasts for eight hours until the page is acknowledged through mobile indicates a high priority alert. On the other hand, low priority alerts can be set to come in with a different tone and different level of alarm sound.

Reason 4 – Pagers Have Limited Range

If a doctor is away from the hospital, he or she may not receive their pages due to lack of reception. As a result, patient care and treatment might be delayed or hindered due to missed pages.

According to Emory University, 97 percent of users are more likely to report missing alerts on pagers than they are to miss pages on mobile devices.

The OnPage Solution – Extend Your Alert Horizons

OnPage works on Wi-Fi and cellular, which ensures that pages are always delivered to a physician’s smartphone.

Unlike pagers, OnPage allows doctors to receive on-time alerts to save time and save lives. Not only that, but dispatchers of the message also have a complete record of when the message was sent, delivered and read through OnPage’s time stamped audit trail.

Reason 5 – Pagers Can’t Escalate Alerts

Alert escalation is impossible to achieve with the traditional pager. Unfortunately for doctors that are unable to answer a page, their pagers won’t escalate to the next person qualified to take care of their patient.

Without proper escalation functionalities, it’s often that critical alerts go unaddressed or missed, which can prevent a patient from getting the timely care he or she needs.

The OnPage Solution – Escalate Alerts to the Next Person in Line

OnPage’s escalation policy is a way to ensure that unaddressed critical messages are escalated to the appropriate individual on the patient’s care team. Escalations can be customized in three ways, including:

  • Escalation Factor
  • Escalation Interval
  • Escalation Order

Reason 6 – Pagers Don’t Allow Attachments

Successful healthcare diagnoses typically require test results and medical imaging. However, traditional pagers have no means of adding context to a text message via attachments.

The OnPage Solution – Feel Free to Include Attachments

Through OnPage, healthcare professionals can make more informed decisions by adding medical images or voice attachments to all alerts and messages. Additionally, physicians can attach lab reports, voice mails from patients or even links to medical imaging portals.

For information on how to obtain secure messaging and HIPAA complaint communications, please contact OnPage here or reach us directly at 781-916-0040.

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