Integrated secure messaging to enhance medical education: a mixed methods study

BMC Med Educ. 2022 Jul 28;22(1):580. doi: 10.1186/s12909-022-03637-8.


Background: Instant messaging applications and texting are useful for educating and communicating with medical students; however, they present patient privacy concerns and do not address the challenge of student inclusion in patient care communication. EMR-integrated secure messaging offers an opportunity to include students on team communication, enhance their medical education, and ensure patient privacy.

Methods: Between July 2019 through March 2020, we performed a mixed method study to evaluate use of EPIC® Secure Chat as a means of enhancing student education and team communication. We promoted use of secure messaging in orientation, performed a pre- and post-rotation survey to assess perceptions of Secure Chat effect on communication, and directly reviewed and categorized messages.

Results: Twenty-four 3rd and 4th year students completed the pre-rotation survey, and 22 completed the post-rotation survey. Twelve (50%) students reported the quality of communication with faculty was either good or very good prior to internal medicine rotation, while 20 (91%) reported this post-rotation (p-value 0.001). There was a similar improvement in communication with ancillary staff. Nineteen (86%) students felt that secure messaging improved their communication with faculty. On message review, threads were frequently logistical, but also often included discussions of patient management.

Conclusions: Students viewed Secure Chat as having a favorable effect on their communication with team members and reported communication on internal medicine to be improved compared to prior rotations. Messages included students on important patient care conversations. Secure messaging offers a novel medium to improve team communication, enhance student education, and maintain patient privacy.

Keywords: Healthcare communication; Medical education; Secure messaging.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Confidentiality
  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical*
  • Text Messaging*