Friday, April 4, 2014

Dated but Not Outdated: Why the Pager Endures as a Means of Physician Communication

In this post on the Huffington Post yesterday, Sachin Jain, a physician and presumably a technophile, bemoans the enduring use of pagers among physicians, labeling pager carriers as outdated and failing to leverage available technology to make communication more efficient.  As a devoted pager carrier, I will enumerate the many reasons why the pager is a preferred communication modality for many physicians, and the ways in which Dr. Jain is missing the point.

  1. Patient Safety.  I work in the ICU.  If there is something that the RN needs to inform me, s/he needs to know that I have received the message.  If said RN (or intern or resident or other physician) pages me and I respond, they know I know.  If instead they send a text message or leave a voice mail, they do not know that I received the message.  They assume I did, and move on to other tasks.  If I did not receive the message, time sensitive things can get missed or delayed and that's a big safety issue.