Want to work smarter at your health care job? Try texting.

More and more health care professionals are relying on texting to get their job done. Find out how and why they do it.

Want to work smarter at your health care job? Try texting.

Texting is usually frowned upon at work. But in health care, sometimes it’s actually encouraged.

Globally, 82% of doctors own or have access to a smartphone at work, according to a report by market research agency Cello Health Insight. Of those, 73% of U.S. doctors regularly use their phone in the workplace for professional purposes; globally, 30% use their phone to text patients; and 18% take advantage of it communicate with pharmaceutical sales representatives.

As the future of health care puts a greater focus on telemedicine—defined as the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status—there’s potential for just about every industry in the health care sector to utilize secure health care messaging apps. Physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and psychiatrists can all use secure messaging apps to privately consult with patients and provide treatment options on the go.

The “secure” part is important. Health care professionals need to use software that prevents messages containing personal health information (PHI) from being intercepted or exposed—something SMS messaging doesn’t guarantee, and can result in a costly Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation.

Got all that? Great—here are a few reasons a secure messaging app can benefit you at work.

You’ll cut costs

An estimated $8.3 billion is lost in the health care industry annually because of phone tag, according to HIPAA Journal. We’re not talking about casual chitchat; some of the main purposes of these calls include medical professionals trying to escalate a patient’s condition, collaborate on a patient’s treatment or facilitate a discharge.

Texting not only reduces phone tag by 80%, but group-messaging features can also cultivate a collaborative environment to improve the quality of health care.

At Waterbury Hospital, for instance, the staff was able to improve consults and save more than $2,208 per patient using TigerText, a HIPAA-compliant messaging app, to send and receive exam reports and test results.

You’ll be more efficient

The mobility these apps provide prevents you from being chained to your desk phone.

In a case study at a Wellcon Medical Facility at the Salt Lake County Adult Detention Center, nurses using TigerText cumulatively saved eight to 12 hours per day, allowing them to attend to 15 more patients per shift.

At the same time, these apps also cut down on travel (for both clinicians and patients) and allow patients to communicate with their health care providers around the clock.

You’ve got plenty of options

There are a handful of secure messaging apps that health care professionals are using.

In Brazil, 87% of doctors communicate with patients using WhatsApp, according to Cello Health Insight. This free app played a key role in tracking the country’s Zika virus outbreak, as doctors used it to share babies’ CT scans and symptoms they were seeing.

Other popular apps include OhMD, Vocera, Stitch and Imprivata, to name a few. Additionally, Medical Technology Schools named messaging apps Medigram, Onpage and Healthtap among its 10 useful health information apps.

While phone calls and voice mail aren’t going away anytime soon, a secure messaging app may be an immediate solution to help improve your on-the-job efficiency.