Mobile applications make life much easier for doctors, patients, and clinic management, which can reduce time and, accordingly, management costs. About a quarter of the doctors surveyed by Top of Mind MR&C reported that their healthcare institution uses medical mobile applications. What are the key requirements for such apps? Why couldn’t they choose regular messengers? Let’s figure it out.
Medical Consultations Via Messengers
WHO pays special attention to the use of mobile technologies in medicine (called mHealth or “mobile health”). In a report published in 2016, WHO experts emphasize: mHealth allows “to increase public access to quality health services, to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases and improve overall health security.”
The range of tasks that, according to experts, can be effectively solved with the help of instant messengers, is wide. In addition to the exchange of relevant professional information, coordination of actions of medical workers, solving logistical issues, training, there are also remote consultations. For doctors, the possibility of remote consultations, those on the basis of which decisions are made, is one of the main advantages of mobile technologies. However, it also raises the largest number of legal questions, including the problem of the security of personal data.
The Choice of Professionals
Services for instant messaging with the ability to transfer text, graphic, video, and sound files online can be implemented in medicine in different ways:
- as IP telephony systems (SMS messages in mobile phones);
- as components of social networks (for example, Facebook);
- as standalone applications (WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.).
However, all these options are usually not secured enough. Therefore, for each hospital, it is important to have a professional network messenger for communication that will guarantee the security of patients’ personal data. The “On-premise” installation ensures that hospitals have complete data ownership and secure communications. According to the best world practice, professional medical messengers should meet the following criteria:
- All data of personnel, doctors, and patients should belong exclusively to the medical institution. For this purpose, the software should be installed on a top-tier cloud server or local server.
- Doctors and medical staff can easily communicate with each other when doubts arise or help is needed.
- Staff can send messages with quick response buttons, such as “Confirm Appointment,” “Accept Patient,” or “Join the Team”. This automates tasks and reduces paperwork.
- Geolocation broadcasting should allow dispatchers in hospitals to control doctors on duty, and share current changes or request assistance in a few clicks.
- Preset alarms that create separate chats for incidents.
- Exchange of text and voice messages, photos, and videos without the risk of violating privacy: all data and conversations are protected and encrypted right on the servers of the hospital.
As you can see, a few regular messengers can meet these requirements. For this reason, it is important to introduce professional software suitable for medical purposes. Alternatively, LAN messengers can be also used.