A lab tech handles a specimen.

Improving Response to Critical Laboratory Results with Secure Messaging Part 2

(Part 2 of 2)

The Traditional Process of Reporting Critical Values

The College of American Pathologists (CAP) offers a laboratory accreditation program. To attain accreditation through the CAP, they require that at least 90% of critical values be reported within 30 minutes after obtaining a verified result. A similar requirement is in place through The Joint Commission.

Sometimes it is difficult for organizations to attain or retain accreditation because the traditional process to verify and document notifications (read-back) can be time consuming. Typically, institutions will designate categories of personnel who are authorized to receive critical values – usually physicians and nurses.

If the results are communicated to a suitable medical staff member, the name of that person, time of contact, and documentation of read-back is recorded. If the result is provided to non-medical personnel, that person is required to notify the correct physician and record the notification and read-back in the patient’s medical record.

If the non-medical personnel is unsuccessful in contacting an appropriate person for transmission, the next step is often to page the provider. Significant delays can result if there are issues with contacting the provider or using precious time to find out who is on-call.

The Benefits of Using a Secure Messaging App

Secure messaging apps can outperform traditional phone calls by improving timeliness when reporting results. When healthcare organizations change their process of reporting critical values by telephone to using a secure messaging app instead, they can meet or exceed the standards put forth by accrediting agencies, experience increased efficiency by immediately getting the results to the right person, see a reduction in the time it takes to report results, and have a reliable record of the communication because messages are automatically time-stamped when sent, received, and read. Built-in reporting features provide accurate information about the communication process.

A secure mobile messaging app also provides:

  • End-to-end message encryption to protect electronic patient health information (ePHI) and ensure all communications are secure and protected.
  • Freedom from outdated pagers. Devices can be consolidated through secure messaging apps so that all correspondence can be done from a smartphone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch, or desktop computer.
  • Ease of use.
  • Customization.
  • The ability to send massive amounts of data quickly and accurately while keeping users firmly connected through WiFi and cellular networks.
  • Voice-to-text modes so users can speak a message into their device and it automatically converts into text.
  • Persistent alert settings ensure important messages won’t be missed.
  • A message log to keep track of messaging histories.
  • Interoperability by having the ability to seamlessly integrate with on-call scheduling.
  • Safety features such as bio-metric access and remote disabling if a device is lost or stolen.

Notification of critical lab results is a crucial function of the clinical laboratory. Using technology such as secure messaging, ensures information is received by the correct personnel, quickly and accurately, to help improve patient care.

Read part 1 of 2.