Gaining Physician Buy-in for Implementing New Clinical Communications Technology

The hardest part of implementing new technology into an organization isn’t always determining the budget or operational logistics. It’s often getting physicians on board with the new systems and workflows.

The people of an organization are the ones who bring life to its mission and values, and it is they who need to champion the cause of improving clinical communications and patient care workflows. Physicians have some of the strongest voices when it comes to change and adaptation within a healthcare system. And their buy-in is essential for the successful transition to new technology systems and for gaining staff compliance.

The ultimate objective of technology should be to make processes and protocols more efficient for physicians and staff to deliver better patient care. Once a healthcare system identifies the most appropriate and reliable clinical communications solution, it is up to IT and leadership to partner with clinicians for successful implementation and transition.

There are several steps they can take to make this easier:

Present proven and potential outcomes

Physicians are in their industry to drive positive outcomes; therefore, use those predicted and proven outcomes to resonate with physicians.

Time spent with patients is indispensable, so be prepared to answer questions they care about. For example, how much time is this technology expected to save them? How long does it take to get the right people from the code team to the bedside? And how many steps are eliminated from their workflow?

Present baseline measurements and data around high-impact workflows to physicians for comparison. Healthcare systems already document hard numbers that are (or should be) frequently shared with physicians, such as the time between hospital admissions and IVT administration. Quality assurance and IT leadership can partner together to run comparisons on current numbers and potential outcomes.

While it is harder to quantify staff sentiments, physicians are well aware that staff burnout, particularly among nurses, is a major issue within healthcare organizations. 41% of symplr’s Compass Survey respondents reported that the biggest threat to their healthcare system is nursing and staffing burnout. By minimizing miscommunication and promoting efficiency in clinical communications, nurses can experience less burnout and alarm fatigue, resulting in greater staff retention and a strengthened care team.

Focus on minimizing platforms

Physicians will be the first ones to tell you they don’t need one more profile to create or one more password to remember. Engaging with multiple tech platforms creates inconsistencies with communication, a potential delay in diagnosis or care response, and an inefficient use of time.

In another response to symplr’s Compass Survey, 70% stated that by minimizing the number of tech platforms used in their workflows, they estimate they would gain back 10% to 25% of their time that could be better spent on direct patient care.

According to symplr’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Angel Mena, this is an understatement.

“I spend a lot of time trying to figure out who’s taking care of my patients—that’s what we need to solve for. If we can get back that time, I can dedicate more time to my patients and take better care of them, thus improving outcomes across the board.”

When a healthcare system uses multiple platforms for phone calls, paging, texting, and vital alerts, nurses, in particular, suffer from alarm fatigue and can overwhelm the wrong team members or contact the wrong on-call physicians in critical patient situations.

“I don't need an application for the nurse call to go to. I don't need a separate application where I'm going to get phone calls,” says symplr’s Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, Ali Morin. “Have a solution where all of that goes into one, so that when that phone rings or that alert goes off, or that tone goes off, I know it's urgent, emergent, or a high-priority communication that I need to tend to.”

When an application offers multiple communication modes in one, such as voice calls and texting, physicians and nurses can better prioritize critical patient care situations and involve the correct team members. An integrated platform also allows care teams to use the platform in a way that best suits the patient care situation at hand or communication preference.

Emphasize patient safety

Ali also stresses how implementing the wrong technology impacts the providers and staff on call, including how she has seen first-hand the result of inefficient tech leading to delayed patient admissions from the emergency department.

“The more time it takes me to find the right provider, the worse the outcome is for the patient and the more frustrating it is for both of us.”

Dr. Mena agrees, “What I’m worried about is that there’s a lot of noise and that could derail us from our objectives. We have to connect all these communication modes, all these data points so that the patient’s safety and quality metrics are consolidated and optimized.”

“It needs to be all under one roof,” says Dr. Mena, “not necessarily in the same app, but all on one platform to really drive positive outcomes.”

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