Secure text message communication shortens length of stay, study finds

As pagers become more outdated in hospitals, clinicians are seeking other ways to communicate with one another. Secure text messaging is one such way, and a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine finds communicating in this manner may improve care quality by reducing patients' lengths of stay.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia compared lengths of stay at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, the former site serving as the intervention site where care providers communicated using text messaging and the latter serving as the control site with pagers.

After one month, the average length of stay at the control site remained unchanged at 4.7 days, but the average length of stay at the intervention site fell from 6 days to 5.4 days.

There was no significant difference in readmissions.

"Our findings suggest that mobile secure text messaging may help to improve communication among providers leading to more efficient care coordination and allowing patients to leave the hospital sooner," said Mitesh Patel, MD, lead author of the study.

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