Original Research

Hospital-based clinicians’ use of technology for patient care-related communication: a national survey



To characterize current use of communication technologies, including standard text messaging and secure mobile messaging applications, for patient care–related (PCR) communication.


We used a Society of Hospital Medicine database to conduct a national cross-sectional survey of hospital-based clinicians.


We analyzed data from 620 survey respondents (adjusted response rate, 11.0%). Pagers were provided by hospitals to 495 (79.8%) of these clinicians, and 304 (49%) of the 620 reported they received PCR messages most commonly by pager. Use of standard text messaging for PCR communication was common, with 300 (52.9%) of 567 clinicians reporting receipt of standard text messages once or more per day. Overall, 21.5% (122/567) of respondents received standard text messages that included individually identifiable information, 41.3% (234/567) received messages that included some identifiable information (eg, patient initials), and 21.0% (119/567) received messages for urgent clinical issues at least once per day. About one-fourth of respondents (26.6%, 146/549) reported their organization had implemented a secure messaging application that some clinicians were using, whereas few (7.3%, 40/549) reported their organization had implemented an application that most clinicians were using.


Pagers remain the technology most commonly used by hospital-based clinicians, but a majority also use standard text messaging for PCR communication, and relatively few hospitals have fully implemented secure mobile messaging applications.


The wide range of technologies used suggests an evolution of methods to support communication among healthcare professionals. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2017;12:530-535. © 2017 Society of Hospital Medicine

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