Outdated pagers show stubborn staying power

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A new study tapping HIMSS Analytics research data shows that most hospitals are still supporting legacy pager systems. This seems stunning in light of the fact that the average paging-service cost is more than $9 per device per month, while modern messaging apps can be had for under $5 per device per month.

Sponsored by messaging vendor TigerText, the study looked at HIMSS analytics survey responses from 200 hospitals and health systems of varying sizes around the U.S.

Close to 90 percent of survey respondents indicated they still use pagers, ringing up an average annual bill of around $180,000.

This research was supplemented with market research and qualitative, interview-based research with senior executives at the largest participating hospitals, according to a press release from TigerText.

Along with the dollar metrics, study authors found many institutions absorbing soft costs related to pager-service maintenance:

  • “Pagers were seen in interviews as causing communication gaps by not allowing users to update contact directories and on-call schedules, which are critical to effectively reaching physicians.”
  • “Survey respondents noted the inconvenience of carrying and managing more than one device.”
  • “The limits of paging systems operating only on a single network was perceived as a significant disadvantage, unlike smartphones which communicate across multiple networks (i.e., cellular, WIFI).”

The research revealed that “a significant number of hospitals still rely on pagers as a cost of doing business,” says Bryan Fiekers of HIMSS Analytics. “Legacy technology can be difficult to replace despite that more advanced technology is available.”

The release also quotes a CIO at an unnamed university hospital who participated in the study.

“Nothing would make me happier than to move away from pagers,” says the CIO. “I think we are in a transition state.”

TigerText is making the full study available in exchange for contact information.