Using communication to drive workflows: Spok

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Clear and trusted communication is the foundation for all medical care, however, communication for the sake of communication is no longer enough. In order to attain the highest levels of efficiency, meet stringent regulatory requirements and keep costs low, healthcare providers must explore new ways to leverage long established and newly emerging communication tools.

This task can be quite tricky, and many in our field are still wrestling with how to locate potent positions within their working environments for even the most common forms of communication. For example, while popular culture has fully embraced text messaging, even with the distracted teenagers and sometimes confusing emoticons that often go along with it, many organizations succumb to "paralysis by analysis" when considering the tightly intertwined opportunities and dangers of texting within healthcare workflows. 

To learn more about the issues our industry must consider when devising implementation plans and establishing best practices relative to its communications systems, I spoke with Brian Edds, Vice President of Product Strategy, Spok. Not only did I develop a deeper appreciation for Spok's expertise in creating such strategies, but I also can now see how wearable technologies may soon hold the key to maximizing the power of future communication systems in healthcare. 

(Editor's note: To hear audio excerpts of this interview, click on the media player buttons that run throughout this article.)

Free: Please describe your background and how your work at Spok has evolved overtime.

Edds: I have been with the company for almost 5 years. I came on board to help start our mobility strategy and our secure texting implementations.

Prior to coming to Spok, I worked in mobile workforce management applications across a variety of industries. My career has been around mobile strategy probably since before it was a good idea.

In the mid 2000's that all changed with the introduction of smartphones. Doctors and nurses were increasingly bringing their smartphones and using them at work. Spok brought me on to help address the question: How can we best leverage smartphones as a workflow tool in healthcare?

That's really the journey we and our customers have been on over the last five years. It really started a couple years ago, when "Hey, I have this smartphone. How can I connect it to my Spok system?" We came out with our product at that time. We called it Spok Mobile, formerly referred to it as Amcom Mobile Connect. That product put an app on the phone and it allowed us to send messages to the phone. Those messages were secure as opposed to regular [short message service] SMS. Those messages were traceable so you could understand when they were delivered which was an advantage over prior communication methods. They were also differentiated. That was an important aspect too because we all know we receive a ton of different notifications and alarms and messages on our phone. What our customers told us was that the types of messages that they wanted to send from the Spok system out to these devices was special and different, and they needed to be treated as such.

That's the genesis of our work today and my existence here at Spok.

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Apple Watch, HIPAA, HIPAA audit, mobility strategy, Spok, Texting, The Joint Commission

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