Physicians will be the first to admit that they're sometimes hard to reach with a pager. This "send-and-wait" clinical messaging scenario of paging is old school, with patient care quality and HIPAA compliance suffering as a result.
The page signal itself takes too much time – from 15 seconds to one minute depending on the type of pager. The person sending the page doesn’t know if the intended recipient received the signal, and the pager doesn't alert senders or intended recipients if an attempt to communicate failed. Meanwhile, workflow is interrupted as clinicians wait – sometimes in vain -- for needed feedback; pager messages also cannot include patient names or patient data to comply with HIPAA.
About 80% of hospitals in the United States still use pagers as they continue clinical communication with familiar but outdated technology. In Canada, the three largest telecom companies soon will no longer support pager networks, a development sealed when the largest of this trio announced it will stop pager support at the end of 2021. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service mandated that all trusts’ hospitals must stop the use of pagers for non-emergency clinical communication by the end of 2021. Replacement options include “smartphones and apps” (Gov.uk, 2019).
The onset of Covid-19 in 2020 led to pagers being replaced with new clinical communication technologies in health care delivery and response. Pager replacement led to increased use of instant messaging via smartphones and other digital communication tools. Many physicians replaced the pager and introduced updated technologies for clinical communication and HIPAA compliance; smartphones worked “for rapid collective sense-making and to facilitate strategic and operational decision-making” (Tham, Lu & Teo, 2020).
Communication delays interrupt not only workflow but quality and timely patient care. Here are six reasons why it’s time to ditch the pager.
The Hypercare smartphone app can immediately replace a pager with its pager replacement functionality that is HIPAA-compliant and designed for health care workflows. This feature generates a custom phone number linked to an on-call schedule or an individual provider so that call back numbers always get to the right person.
To ensure pages always reach the right person on call, the Hypercare pager replacement solution sends pages as Stat messages that bypass the Do Not Disturb functionality on the smartphone. The pager replacement feature provides a direct line to the intended recipient of the page, simplifies the messaging process, and eliminates disruption in communication between clinicians.
"As a surgical subspecialist, I require a quick and efficient paging system to deliver patient care," said Dr. Joel Cooper, a vascular surgeon at Royal Victoria Hospital. "Our group had previously paid hundreds of dollars per month for an outdated paging service. We were excited to switch to Hypercare, which costs a fraction of the price, and allows for a more accurate and modern way to communicate among our team and deliver care. The transition to Hypercare was easy and the app has been more reliable and functional than our previous service. We have been very happy with this product."
Book a demo to learn more about Hypercare's pager replacement.
Best J. Slow death of the bleep: why hospital pagers won’t die. BMJ, March 31 2021;372:n684
Gov.uk Government News. Health and social care secretary bans pagers from NHS. February 23, 2019.
HIPAA Journal. HIPAA compliance and pagers, 2016: updated 2018.
Storino A, et al. Paging patterns among junior surgery residents in a tertiary care center, Journal of Surgical Education, Sept.-Oct. 2021;78(5):1483-1491.
Tham K, Lu Q, Teo W. Infodemic: what physician leaders learned during the COVID-19 outbreak: a qualitative study. BMJ Leader, December 2020;4(4):201-206.
Witherspoon L, et al. Is it time to rethink how we page physicians? Understanding paging patterns in a tertiary care hospital. BMC Health Services Research, 2019;19:992.