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Technologies enhancing communication

Online communication and messaging platforms are being used widely and increasingly in clinical practice, as healthcare teams seek solutions to communication inefficiencies. There are a few very popular platforms in this rapidly changing area, with some messaging apps being developed specifically for healthcare settings.

Using messaging apps has many advantages which can ultimately benefit patient care. However, there can be uncertainty about when and how to use them, including how they fit in with other communication about patients, and your professional obligations.

Privacy and confidentiality

When using a messaging app, consider the privacy and confidentiality of the information you share, along with whether the information needs to be included in medical records.

You can share a patient’s health information without specific consent where the purpose for sharing is the same as, or directly related to, the reason you obtained it. So, sharing patient information via a messaging app with the treatment team doesn’t require specific consent from the patient.

Obtain patient consent to take clinical images, and record this in the patient’s record along with the image. Images should then be deleted from your personal device.

All clinically relevant information from messaging conversations should be copied into the patient’s medical records, noting who was involved in the conversation and when it took place. Make sure you are aware of the requirements in your workplace.

Security matters

You are required to take steps to ensure the security of information you exchange using messaging apps, which is complex. Your organisation may have considered these issues, so find out whether a particular messaging app is approved by your hospital or practice.

The wide use of messaging apps is a concern for some hospital managers, and most have a policy about whether and how you can use messaging apps.

Doctor innovation delivers solution

Doctors are no strangers to finding novel solutions to workplace problems. If WhatsApp wasn’t the solution, Avant member Dr Vikram Balakrishnan had an idea of what was. Working with Krupa Bhagani and Kruti Balakrishnan, who understood the problems from a patient’s perspective, they co-founded myBeepr. This tool is specifically designed for the healthcare setting and lets healthcare workers share messages, photos and other vital information securely with other medical professionals.

Since implementing myBeepr at Western Health in Victoria, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Birinder Giddey says, “the key with myBeepr is that it’s intuitive. It looks remarkably similar to other applications which most people have likely used, so it’s not like they need to learn how to use something new.”

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