Vocera adds text messaging to communications tool

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

One of the nation's major providers of communication services for hospitals and health systems is adding secure text messaging to its platform.

Officials at Vocera Communications, based in San Jose, Calif., said cloud-based Vocera Secure Texting would be added onto the company's platform at no additional cost for the more than 800 hospitals that are customers. The solution is expected to be made available during the second quarter of 2015 and will be on display at HIMSS15 this April in Chicago.

The move addresses a key roadblock in health systems across the country – the need for a real-time communications platform that links doctors, nurses and others on the care team at a moment's notice. Joint Commission studies have indicated that roughly 70 percent of accidental deaths or serious injuries in hospitals are tied to gaps in communication, while a University of Maryland study put the monetary cost of those communication gaps at $12 billion annually.

Vocera officials see this platform as an alternative to SMS, a risky method of communications that isn't HIPAA-compliant, yet is being used by many clinicians – especially those using their own mobile devices - who feel the need outweighs the risks. In fact, recent Spyglass surveys indicated more than 90 percent of physicians have admitted using SMS, and many fault their administrators with not providing the necessary tools for proper care coordination.

“With the rise of population health, the importance of care coordination is greater than ever.  The best way to improve how care teams communicate and collaborate is to provide solutions that are easy to use, secure, and integrated with other clinical systems,” Brent Lang, Vocera's president and CEO, said in a press release. “Vocera Secure Texting will help the extended care teams reach the right person, at the right time, on the right device, with the right information, in the right place. Because protecting patient information is a priority for Vocera, we’re providing the solution to all of our U.S. hospital customers at no additional cost.”

Among Vocera's customers is Boston-based Tufts Medical Center.

“Providing communication solutions for our clinicians is critical to delivering excellent care to the community we serve,” Bill Shickolovich, the hospital's CIO, said in the press release. “Additionally, protecting personal health information and avoiding HIPAA violations is critically important. With Vocera, we are able to keep care teams in sync across sites to improve care coordination, safety and, ultimately, patient experience."