Secure Messaging Enhances Critical Value Alerts

Secure Messaging Enhances Critical Value Alerts

Exploring Geisinger Medical Center’s Research, Findings, and Results


Key Takeaways:

  • 85% reported that critical value notification by secure text messaging has increased their efficiency
  • 95% reported that critical value notification is more effective than a pager-phone-call based system
  • 83% of providers reported that they were able to provide better, faster care to their patients.

In an August 2020 study in the Journal of Pathology Informatics, Geisinger’s own Dr. Jordan Olson, Division Chief, Clinical Pathology Informatics and Quality, discovered a near 8-minute reduction in the communication of lab results by using TigerConnect’s secure text messaging instead of phone calls and paging.

The findings indirectly confirm what caregivers already know – slow turnaround time and lengthy delays in treatment result in higher costs and lower care quality, leading to decreased patient satisfaction and provider satisfaction. The study found that among participants, secure text messaging (STM) was favored over phone calls, pages, and answering services:

“…providers noted they preferred to receive CV notifications through STM and reported that they were able to provide more effective care to their patients.”

As a leading cause of inefficiencies in collaboration and time management, outdated communication technology runs rampant in today’s hospitals and health systems. Archaic technology as a whole slows down processes, workflows, and creates more work than is necessary.

Among these offenders, pagers are notoriously inefficient communication tools. When a doctor needs to be reached, the message received is very limited with little information. The provider then calls the sender to obtain further information, a sense of urgency, the priority of the request, and how it may impact the rest of their day’s expectations and workflows.

Improving Communication: Geisinger Medical Center

All too familiar with these communication errors and inconsistencies, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania sought to amplify their organization’s quality of care and turnaround time for their patients. Geisinger made it their goal to speed up laboratory critical values and communications. Up until that point, they were stuck in pager-land, relying on the endless call back process to receive critical lab values.

From the Journal of Pathology Informatics Report: “With so many laboratory test values necessitating immediate intervention, the historical method of identifying the responsible provider to convey the critical values was fraught with delays.

Once the correct provider was identified, the laboratory staff relied on a manual call back process to convey critical values, often delaying the time to intervention by hours. Often, the critical values had to be relayed to a general floor staff member who could only act if protocols were in place, placing patients at risk for further delays in appropriate treatment.

In large complex health systems, the increasing laboratory test volumes coupled with a manual call back process for critical values can cause significant delays and potential harm to patients. Since one of our strategic imperatives is to innovate ways to improve patient care, it was logical for our team to seek opportunity to improve this process.”

Reducing Inefficiencies: Automatic Alerts and Notifications

To enhance communication between their clinical providers and the lab information system (LIS), Geisinger leveraged TigerConnect’s secure text messaging for their critical value notifications, automatically alerting the correct physician at the appropriate times.

As a long-time user of TigerConnect’s messaging platform, these automatic alerts had already been proven effective for Geisinger at reducing unproductive workflows, improving time management, and providing patients with critical values quickly and reliably.

From the Journal of Pathology Informatics Report:

“Every provider and employee in our system uses the same secure texting application, TigerConnect to quickly connect and communicate with colleagues. Furthermore, our health-care system has eliminated physical pagers and turned secure text messaging into a system where provider cell phones can be “pagers” capable of two-way communication.”

“The intended goal for this level of application integration was to create a synergistic amalgam between our electronic medical record, LIS, desktop application, and TigerConnect secure text messaging platform to deliver critical values in a timely manner to the right provider for appropriate intervention.”

“TigerConnect has allowed for us to better understand how fast providers read and acknowledge their patient’s critical values. Previous implementations were successful, and we were able to add additional functionality that has not been previously reported. Our implementation also follows the College of American Pathologists checklist and provides the ability to confirm receipt of the critical values result via TigerConnect.”

Replacing Pagers with Productivity

Secure messaging creates a seamless, private communications network for healthcare organizations through secure, cloud-based apps that can be downloaded via desktop or mobile device. Using HIPAA-compliant messaging, providers send and receive messages and are able to access and share information and patient data with the speed, convenience, and valuable security of mobile technology.

Secure messaging enhances patient and provider satisfaction overall and has many advantages over legacy paging systems. In fact, Temple Health in Philadelphia dropped their pager costs from $12,000 a month to $1,000 by simply replacing pagers with TigerConnect. Delivery notifications and read receipts eliminate phone tag almost entirely and increase message accountability. Group messaging gives more care team collaboration, assists with patient diagnosis and treatment, and helps coordinate hospital admissions and patient discharges.

The Results: Secure Messaging is the Way to Go

Through extensive research, Geisinger found, as noted earlier, that 85% of providers saw increases in efficiency through the critical value notifications. Additionally, 92% of providers felt that receiving critical value notifications through secure text messaging was more effective than receiving a phone call and no longer preferred to receive telephone notification after moving to secure text messaging for critical value results. Finally, 83% of providers reported that they were able to provide better, faster care to their patients.

From the Journal of Pathology Informatics Report:

“Our results demonstrate that the implementation of secure text messaging to deliver critical values is efficient and reliable and has a significant impact on turnaround times. Our results are consistent with prior studies that employed technology to automate the delivery of laboratory data.

The reduction in turnaround time using secure text messaging allowed providers the option to change the management of patient care faster and was well received by providers. Our proprietary application has also allowed us to transform health care for our patients and our providers by freeing them from calls to the laboratory to get their information verbally.

We also were able to automate critical values in a College of American Pathologists compliant method. This study demonstrates the powerful positive impact the clinical laboratory has on patient care when innovative solutions are employed to help improve our ability to provide safe, high-quality care.”

The results reported from the Geisinger Medical Center report concluded that the use of secure text messaging to better manage patient care in today’s complex healthcare landscape is an effective and reliable method of delivery and communication.

Learn more about Geisinger Medical Center’s extensive research and findings

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To see firsthand how a secure messaging solution can increase productivity, saving your organization time and money, please contact us to request a free demo.

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