Until recently, communication from clinician to clinician at Mary Washington Healthcare was a time-consuming, multistep process.First, someone had to call a page operator, who then sent a message to the doctors alphanumeric pager. If the doctor was available, the call was returned. If the doctor failed to respond in a timely manner, repeated and escalated communication attempts were required. Using a unit clerk to make calls on someones behalf led to some temporary solutions, says David Yi, chief medical information officer for the Fredericksburg, Va., regional medical system. Whats more, he says, the full context of a pager message wasnt always conveyed.Clinical staff can send a message to an alphanumeric pager, but it doesnt always tell the doctor who is calling or what the problem is, Yi says.Additionally, such an arrangement can potentially delay consults and care, he says. Its not always possible for nurses to wait indefinitely for a call back. That can lead to calls going unanswered for a while and patients staying in the hospital longer than they should.

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