Clinicians rely on pagers for care-related communications but many remain unprotected

Using information from the Society of Hospital Medicine database, researchers conducted a survey of 620 participants on the use of text messaging, and secure mobile messaging applications. The study found pagers were provided by hospitals to 495 clinicians, and 304 stated they received the most patient care–related (PCR) messages through their pagers. This website

Some 300 participants reported using text messaging more than once a day, 21.5 percent received messages containing individually identifiable information, and 41.3 percent received information on urgent clinical issues once a day. One fourth of respondents reported their organization had implemented secure messaging to ensure patient privacy, but only 7.3 percent had implemented the security for the application most physicians were using.

“Pagers remain the technology most commonly used by hospital-based clinicians, but a majority also use standard text messaging for PCR communication, and relatively few hospitals have fully implemented secure mobile messaging applications,” concluded Kevin J. O’Leary, MD, MS, first author on the study and colleagues. “The wide range of technologies used suggests an evolution of methods to support communication among healthcare professionals.”