Communication is critical to the success of patient care outcomes. But poor team communication in healthcare can result in much more than sub-par care quality and unsafe clinical conditions: It can foster healthcare workforce dissatisfaction by wasting team members' valuable time and negatively affect a health system’s bottom line.
In fact, studies show that hospitals waste $12 billion per year, or about 2% of revenue, as a result of poor communication. Roughly 80% of medical errors result from poor communication, highlighting what is at stake when communication is not optimized.
Having sound communication methods in place among healthcare professionals is vital to counteract negative outcomes—and it all ties back to the mechanisms that care teams use communicate with each other. For example, a reliance on outdated paging systems that require team members to wait for specific clinicians to become available slows every process and prevents staff from doing their best work.
Thankfully, today's innovative technologies vastly improve care team coordination by using cloud-based clinical communication platforms that focus on role-based communication. The results?
- Increased care team efficiency and productivity
- Lower overall costs
- Better patient outcomes
The problems with individual-based communication modes
Pagers are just one example of an individual based communication tool. When a nurse needs to contact a specialist for help or medical advice for a patient, they page a specific provider and wait for a reply. The nurse could have no idea when they’ll get a response back, if the provider is busy or not, or even if the provider is the appropriate resource to handle their request.
This method of communication is slow and unreliable, leading to hospital-wide inefficiencies. Patient care suffers as nurses are forced to wait for critical patient information. Because increased nurse time spent on patient care is associated with improved patient outcomes, reduced medical errors, and higher patient satisfaction, health systems can’t afford to have nurses tied up inside these old, fragmented processes.
To see another negative impact of this inefficient communication method, look no further than admitted patients awaiting their medications. If a patient needs pain medication or a treatment for new onset respiratory symptoms, a nurse’s scope of practice requires the order to be placed in the electronic medical record (EMR). Not only is a delay in medication administration detrimental to patient care, but it can also severely affect a patient’s happiness and trust in his or her care team.
The importance of role-based communication
The need for a nurse to reach out to a specific provider is often unnecessary in modern healthcare. Rather, to make medical decisions and continue patient care, nurses usually just need a response from whomever is currently filling a role in a particular specialty.
This idea of role-based communication is critical to transforming care team efficiency and coordination. Driving inquiries to a role instead of a specific person enables nurses to reach out to the on-call specialist (e.g., cardiology) for faster answers to their clinical questions.
Since nurses can receive patient information in a real-time capacity, role-based communication can improve patient outcomes and literally save lives. Nurses then can spend more time with their patients and gain a better understanding of the patient and their needs.
With better patient outcomes, role-based communication strategies can also:
- Increase patient satisfaction, which can directly and positively impact the health system’s HCAHPS scores
- Improve provider ratings
- Decrease patients' length of stay
Beyond enabling better nurse-to-provider workflows, role-based communication is also important to establishing quick care teams. In traumatic, time-sensitive situations, like a heart attack, it is often necessary to mobilize critical care teams quickly. By taking a role-based approach, hospitals can create teams quickly based on availability to fill the roles of the team.
Powering role-based communication
For role-based communication to succeed, hospitals must move beyond outdated paging systems and static EMRs. Instead, hospitals seeking to implement role-based communication strategies must adopt cloud-based clinical communication platforms across their care teams.
Cloud-based clinical communication platforms, like symplr Clinical Communications, provide the technology and infrastructure for clinicians to send and receive information in real-time. They also show the real-time status and availability of every nurse and provider in the system—which is far more efficient than looking at a standard print-out that becomes outdated and inaccurate almost as soon as it's posted.
Cloud-based clinical communication platforms can use this real-time information to connect a nurse with an available provider automatically. Without requiring any additional work on the nurse’s or specialist’s end, inquiries arrive in the hands of an available and appropriate provider faster than a pager ever could. Responses to inquiries move just as fast.
This leads to better role-based workflows, which can look something like this example:
- A nurse reaches out via the cloud-based clinical communication platform to the hospitalist on call
- The platform’s system automatically finds the right hospitalist without requiring human interaction
- The provider receives the nurse’s inquiry
- The hospitalist can respond back quickly, working with the nurse to find a solution in real-time
The superior role-based capabilities of cloud-based clinical collaboration platforms make them perfect for ensuring that patients have set follow-up appointments. Case managers can better coordinate a patient’s discharge by having easy, up-to-date access to their entire care team. This allows them to track whether a patient is progressing through their treatment. The forward momentum helps to keep their stay and recovery as short as possible—which is the ideal scenario for both the patient and the provider.
The future of clinical communication
At symplr, we know that our industry is always evolving. With years of healthcare experience at both the clinical and technical level, we work closely with hospitals and providers to help them achieve better care team communication workflows.
Our Clinical Collaboration Platform enhances care team coordination, protects providers organizations' bottom lines, and improves patient outcomes through streamlined critical communications.
Learn more about symplr Clinical Communications or request a demo to see how it works for your enterprise.