Nurses spend most of their time working on documentation, care coordination, and medication administration. In order to complete these tasks along with the necessary dictation and charting, nurses must constantly be on the move throughout the hospital. Unfortunately, this leaves nurses with very little time to interact with their patients, usually less than 5 minutes per patient for each hour during a shift.
To help ease the burden on nurses and improve relationships with patients, many hospitals are incorporating nurse messaging into their communications plan. With this type of setup, nurses can send and receive calls or text messages on their wireless phones as they travel throughout the hospital.
Hospitals that implement a wireless nurse messaging system typically see immediate benefits for their nurses and their patients. Messaging software can be connected to devices within patient rooms so that nurses can receive alert messages on their phones detailing them about the patient’s condition or actions. Since caregivers can receive and respond to alerts more quickly with messaging, the risk of “never events” (such as patient falls or pressure ulcers) is reduced.
Text messages can convey simple task requests more quickly than voice communications; thus, messaging saves time for caregivers because many clinical communications do not require extended voice interaction.
Also, since wireless messaging allows nurses to receive specific patient care alerts and updates on the go, messaging improves nursing workflow. For example, because they are receiving alert messages on their phones in real-time, nurses are able to prioritize the alerts, ensuring that the speed and quality of care given corresponds to each patient’s level of need. Similarly, the wireless phones can be programmed to sound different alert tones to signify different levels of urgency. Some hospitals have reported seeing nursing efficiency improve by nearly 25% within the first three months of implementing a wireless messaging system.
Unit secretaries and operators can greatly benefit from wireless messaging systems as well. Incoming patient calls can be screened and forwarded, or the operator can send the nurse a message which identifies the patient’s need. From their desk, operators can also message physicians or housekeeping to keep the processes of patient admission and discharge running smoothly. Instead of calling back and forth between patients, nurses, and physicians, wireless messaging systems allow operators to generate or forward concise messages to the appropriate caregiver quickly.
Messaging can also greatly improve patient satisfaction. When nurses become more efficient they gain more time to interact with their patients. The patients perceive their nurses as being more attentive to their needs and, consequently, are more likely to view their experience as a positive one. The time nurses spend with their patients is incredibly valuable; time spent in positive communication with patients affects not only patient satisfaction, but nurses’ job satisfaction as well.