Secure messaging shows promise at Saint Mary's Hospital

Implementing a secure messaging system has proven fruitful at Saint Mary's Hospital--communication has improved and the hospital's staff has embraced the technology, according to two of the hospital's IT leaders.

Hospital employees are calling the new system "the coolest thing ever right now," Birgit Koellmer, nurse informaticist at the Waterbury, Connecticut-based hospital told The system is a HIPAA-verified platform for smartphones, tablets and desktops, according to the article.

Currently, it is being used as a general communication tool, with workflows for contact between nurses and physicians, pharmacists and physicians, or physician-to-physician communication, Tom Calo, Saint Mary's technical solutions engineer, said.

The hospital is still in the early stages of implementing the system, so new ways to use it continue to pop up, Calo said.

Secure messaging has shown to be effective at other healthcare facilities, as well. At St. Rita's Medical Center in Ohio, a smartphone-based platform is helping medical staff reach the members of a patient's treatment team, decipher physician's orders and avoid potential care missteps.

What's more, a recent study showed secure messaging between physicians, nurses and medical trainees can boost communication, enhance accountability in the clinical role and speed up daily tasks, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported.

In addition to improving overall communication, Koellmer said she sees system as an emergency preparedness tool. It can be used to quickly send out messages about a problem or emergency across the hospital system, she said.

Right now, the tool is at its most useful in allowing people in the organization to act quickly on things, Calo added.

"I like this to become the de facto tool of how we communicate: This is where it's at. This is what's in effect right here. We don't want it to be messages that aren't that important, things like that," he said.

For organizations hesitant to add a similar tool, Koellmer said it can't be ignored that employees will try to use their mobile devices at work to text and communicate. It's much better to provide a tool they can use that is secure.

"If organizations say it's not happening in their work place, they really need to open their eyes a little ... you don't want that patient information outside of your organization--you want to keep it within," she said.

To learn more:
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