U.K. Calls a “Brexit” on Pagers: Ban of the Pager
National Health Service’s (NHS) recent announcement on the ban of the pager represents great news for U.K. healthcare organizations and their practitioners. The ban not only represents a transformative move, it also showcases pagers’ lackluster performance in providing secure, clinical communications.
Now that pagers are making their way out of U.K. facilities, I’ll highlight what is known so far about this exciting move and what it means for the country’s physicians and nurses alike, as well as implications for U.S. healthcare.
Reducing Costs, Improving Patient Outcomes
According to a recent report, health secretary Matt Hancock, wants to phase out pager use in order to (1) cut costs and (2) improve clinical communications within U.K. facilities. This is welcome news for NHS hospitals, which use 130,000 paging devices that cost $8.73 million USD per year. Furthermore, the pager ban ensures that U.K. organizations save $3.57 million in annual expenses. So long wasteful, hefty spending!
Additionally, Hancock recognized that pagers only provide one-way communication, preventing care team collaboration from being effective and swift. That’s because one-way communication requires that physicians use another device (e.g., smartphone) to call a number to receive a critical message. Consequently, patient care becomes more difficult to provide, which in turn, prolongs a patient’s visit or stay.
So, when exactly will pagers become a thing of the past? In order to comply with Hancock’s regulations, U.K. hospitals and care facilities are required to discontinue their pager use within the next three years (i.e., before the end of 2021). In lieu of the pager, mobile devices with cheaper and more secure, pager replacement apps will be widely adopted and propagated within U.K. healthcare facilities.
Following in Japan’s Footsteps
Though the U.K. made headlines with its pager ban announcement, it’s not the only country dismissing paging systems from their clinical communication duties. At the end of last year, it was reported that Japan’s final pager service is ceasing its operations by September 2019—in only six months!
This, of course, was due to a lack of demand for paging systems and their technologies. Following this announcement, Japan will further revolutionize its clinical communications by replacing pagers with mobile devices. In this way, Japanese hospitals can advance and perfect their cybersecurity practices and operations.
Benefits of Mobile Pager Replacement Apps
By breaking up with the pager, not only are the U.K. and Japan ending a long-term dysfunctional relationship, but they are also moving on to better things by getting together with a secure, pager replacement solution.
Pager replacement apps provide capabilities that make pagers easy to forget and move on from. For instance, a powerful, pager replacement solution such as OnPage, allows U.K. and Japanese healthcare facilities to benefit from:
- SSL encrypted messaging for enhanced communication security
- A sign-on process to grant access only to authorized users
- Real-time message statuses (e.g., delivery, read receipts and time stamps) for more transparent and quicker team collaboration
- Two-way messaging with contextual attachments (i.e., images and voice memos) to convey more information for better decision-making
- Remote wipe capabilities to delete sensitive patient data and records when a staff member leaves the healthcare organization or loses his smartphone
- Predetermined groups and escalations to streamline care team workflows
- Cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, ensuring that pages are always received regardless of a physician’s current location
Today’s pager replacement apps create a sense of urgency, ensuring that high-priority notifications are always heard and addressed. Unlike the antiquated pager and other legacy communication tools, paging apps get rid of frustrating phone tag-based conversations, guaranteeing that U.K. and Japanese healthcare facilities provide the best possible care for patients during life or death situations.
It’s not a question of whether or not mobile, pager replacement apps should be adopted. Instead, the question should be when’s the earliest that these apps can be embraced and used within a hospital complex.