Communication in healthcare: Business Messenger – helpful tool and lifesaver

Only if communication in the healthcare sector is fast, smooth and leak-free, optimum patient care can be ensured. Read the blog post to find out how a business messenger can be a helpful tool with a wide range of uses for hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and care facilities.

Teamwire, Feb 09 2022

Communication in the healthcare sector is stagnating. In hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and care facilities for example, it is highly fragmented and characterized by outdated technologies, data silos and media disruptions. Yet fast and simple communication is essential to improve patient care and relieve the burden on nursing staff. This is where digital communication solutions, above all a business messenger, show their potential. Following the guiding principle of the telematics infrastructure (TI), business messengers not only connect employees by enabling real-time communication via text, voice and video. They are also capable of networking third-party systems from existing IT and solutions across institutions.



Status quo: Consumer messengers are everyday communication tools


The workforce in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and care facilities works predominantly on the move. Therefore, they need a digital communication solution that is available as a mobile and desktop app. Obvious options are messengers such as WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram. In fact, the use of so-called consumer messengers, developed for private purposes, is common practice among physicians. A study by the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) shows that around 90 percent of participating physicians routinely send and receive medical data via messenger; 80 percent of them via WhatsApp. But using such unauthorized apps is prohibited by privacy and security laws. Consumer messengers are not suitable for compliance-compliant information exchange in the medical field. As shadow IT, they offer gateways for unauthorized access and hacker attacks that, in the worst case, cost human lives.



Alternative to WhatsApp & Co.


A messenger for hospitals and care facilities must not only be GDPR-compliant, but also meet numerous technical (data protection) requirements: End-to-end encryption, anonymization of user data as well as its processing via servers in Germany, preferably in an IS027001-certified data center and self-hosting. In addition, the app should be centrally controllable via a professional administrator dashboard and allow individual user and rights distribution. It is also important that it has open interfaces that allow third-party systems to be connected as needed. Ideally, the messenger has an interface to HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources). This communication standard enables smooth data exchange between different systems (interoperability). At the same time, it is essential that the app can be operated intuitively via a clear user interface. Relevant business functions that are geared towards typical use cases in healthcare are also an absolute must.



Eight trend-setting use cases for digital communications in healthcare


The following scenarios show how a secure messenger can support healthcare communications:


1. Sharing information about patients


Using a business messenger, a patient group chat that includes nurses and doctors can be created automatically. Such a chat enables photos, videos, and documents to be shared easily. This allows the care team to discuss via text and voice messages in real time, for example, when the next treatment is scheduled or when the medication dosage changes. Full encryption and integrated image editing functionality ensure the security and anonymity of patient data and ensure smooth healthcare communication.



2. Shift changes


If the entire team uses a group chat, handover processes can be easily coordinated. This ensures that all relevant information is passed on in a structured and seamless manner. Shift schedules can also be managed digitally and shared with colleagues. In addition, logging in and out with different accounts or, in the case of larger institutions, connecting the app to the UEM system enables multi-user capability, so that several users can use the same mobile device. This, too, is part of modern healthcare communication.



3. Emergency situations


Alarms are essential to inform selected teams or the entire organization in the event of a critical incident, such as a patient emergency or fire alarm. Acknowledgement features, signal tones, color highlighting, and read receipts facilitate awareness and coordination. A live location feature can transmit the live location of nursing staff involved. For stationary care, an IoT interface connected to a medical meter or emergency button allows the nursing staff in charge to receive the triggered alarm directly to their mobile device.



4. Family and patient queries


Using a WhatsApp for Business interface, family members and patients can communicate with selected people from healthcare institutions. This makes it easy to make inquiries and quickly obtain information. Hospitalized patients can also use this interface, for example, to make automated queries about the hospital menu and select meals via chatbots.



5. Exchange with institutions and service providers


Two technological approaches enable smooth communication in the healthcare sector:

  • Secure guest access enables, for example, volunteers to join chat groups. The use of the app is not limited.
  • Interoperability allows digital exchange across institutional boundaries, so that autonomous healthcare organizations can exchange information regardless of location and time – and all via a single business messenger.



What digital communication in healthcare will do in the future:



1. Patient registration


When a new patient is hospitalized, an electronic patient file is immediately created for him or her. In the hospital environment, this is usually also transferred to a digital information system, such as the hospital information system (HIS). The information collected, such as patient data, reason for admission, assigned ward, and planned examinations and treatments during the patient’s stay, is used to assign the patient to a corresponding care team.


Taking healthcare communications a step further, it would be conceivable to be able to pick up medical documentation even before the patient is admitted. By getting the data to the ward, the doctor on duty or the central laboratory more quickly, treatment processes can not only be accelerated, but patient safety can also be increased. Loss of information, which can occur with handwritten notes, is thus prevented.



2. Visit


By linking electronic patient records with a messenger, all patient data and documentation can be accessed via a mobile device. New information can be added via the input mask of a bot interface. The changed data can then be stored in the corresponding information system. Here, the application scenario for communication in the healthcare sector can also be taken further. It is conceivable, that when a patient is admitted to a medical or rehabilitation facility as an inpatient, he or she will receive a digital device, such as a tracking wristband including a binary code, which stores all data and examination results. These can be stored directly in the electronic patient record and ultimately accessed via the messenger.



3. Ordering supplies


If supplies such as hypodermic needles, swabs or bandages need to be reordered, this can be done directly via Business Messenger. To do this, the employee enters the quantity to be ordered into a message interface that is connected to the hospital’s purchasing department and the corresponding ordering system. The person responsible for purchasing then receives information to check the order. Other scenarios for healthcare communication are possible here, in which ordering processes can be partially or even fully automated.



Conclusion: A business messenger can save lives


The right communication in the healthcare sector is the key to sustainably improving patient care and increasing the satisfaction of nursing staff. Today, business messengers already enable all employees, all systems, and even all institutions to enter into direct, real-time communication in compliance with data protection laws.



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Do you have questions about how Teamwire can be used specifically for your healthcare communications? Then contact us and arrange a consultation. We will be happy to provide you with advice and support.