A comparison of two-way text versus conventional paging systems in an academic ophthalmology department

Farshid Ighani, Kapil G. Kapoor, Syed K. Gibran, Garvin H. Davis, Thomas Prager, Alice Z. Chuang, Bernard Godley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Alphanumeric paging systems are unidirectional without prioritization capabilities. Newer electronic communication devices such as two-way text paging systems are capable of bidirectional paging and prioritization. While previous studies have evaluated alphanumeric paging systems in academic hospital settings, bidirectional two-way text paging systems have not been investigated. The goal of this study was to evaluate efficiency and impact on patient care delivery of a two-way text paging system compared to conventional one-way alphanumeric pagers. This unmasked, crossover prospective study was divided into three phases. In phase one, surveys were distributed to all ophthalmology attending physicians, residents, clinical technicians, and secretaries to assess the conventional alphanumeric paging system. In phase two, these participants used two-way text pagers without instruction (unstructured format) that they subsequently compared to the alphanumeric system with devised surveys assessing (on a scale of 0 to 100) time saved, increased daily efficiency, facilitation in patient care, and overall impression (helpfulness).In phase three, participants used a specific communication prioritization protocol (structured format) with the two-way text pagers with subsequent comparison and assessment with the same surveys. Compared to traditional alphanumeric pagers, new digital two-way text pagers were found to be statistically (p < 0.0001) more helpful by participants in all categories: as a time saver (80.33 vs. 56.95) p < 0.0001, increased daily efficiency (78.15 vs. 57.13) p < 0.0001, facilitation in patient care (78.79 vs. 56.95) p < 0.0001, and overall impression (helpfulness) (61.82 vs. 84.33) p < 0.0001. When compared to the alphanumeric pager, the two-way text pager was found to decrease subjectively call backs (73.6% to 45.6%, p < 0.0001), reduce interruptions of learning activities (43.63% to 26.6%, p < 0.0001) and enabled better patient care (59.8% to 42.2%, p < 0.0001). No significant statistical difference was found between the structured and unstructured system. Two-way text paging (structured versus unstructured guidance) was preferred over the conventional one-way alphanumeric paging system in every participant category. Two-way text paging is an effective alternative to alphanumeric paging, demonstrating saved time, increased daily efficiency, reduced call backs and interruptions of educational activities, and facilitation in patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-684
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Systems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Academic
  • Alphanumeric
  • Call back
  • Clinic
  • Communication
  • Efficiency
  • Interruptions
  • Pager
  • Prioritization
  • Structured
  • Time saver
  • Two way text
  • Unstructured

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management
  • Information Systems


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