WhatsApp and HIPAA compliance
Its 2018 and everyone, including patients, expect instant communication with care team members. Many institutions have done away with pagers/beepers (do millennials know what those are?) and opted for "purpose-built" cell phones, basically cell phones that only work in the hospital building. These were usually limited to bedside caregivers like nurses and respiratory therapists, and some ER/ICU MDs/PAs/NPs, but for the most part consultants continued to have pagers. As the presence of a cell phone has become as ubiquitous as a stethoscope, it is now expected that practitioners keep their phones on them and answer when called/texted. In one way, it has really helped expedite care (no longer having to wait for a page return), but leaves open the question of patient confidentiality and HIPAA compliance. Sending patient information via SMS/MMS text messaging is a clear 'No-no', but the need to communicate more rapidly without having to wait for a return phone call has necessitated it. Thanks to WhatsApp, an encrypted and secure messaging app, this is finally possible. Additionally, you can add your whole team to the group chat and share patient information, images, labs, etc, all with the confidence that the encrypted messaging is secure. The downside of course, is that now we've become those annoying people who answer phones in the middle of the conversation or examination of a patient. I'm sure that in another 'patient experience' post I will be commenting on how we should NOT be doing this anymore!
I predict a future without pagers or hospital cell phones. We will all be using our own personal devices with downloaded encrypted messaging apps. Maybe work will reimburse us for the bill??