Enhancing Clinical Communication with HIPAA-Compliant Messaging and Scheduling at Great River Health

As a regional system, Great River Health system sought a comprehensive communications platform, including HIPAA-compliant messaging, so that it could connect its many different facilities and users—clinicians, administrative leaders, information technology representatives, quality control professionals, and risk management staff—regardless of their physical location or device used.

However, Great River Health had been using a basic messaging application that didn't have the functionality the system needed for clinical communications.


Additionally, the organization wanted to be able to reach the right person at the right time through an accurate and electronic scheduling system that incorporated the entire regional health system and its associated providers and services.

The health system was using an Excel file to coordinate schedules, a manual and cumbersome process that not only made updates difficult, but also failed to provide access for everyone who needed to see the schedules. The ability to make and disseminate real-time changes was nearly impossible.


After evaluating market alternatives, Great River selected symplr Clinical Communications (formerly Halo Health) to unify all organizational communications onto one platform for clinical and non-clinical staff.

The native on-call scheduling functionality of symplr Clinical Communications became the one source of truth for Great River, replacing the health system’s outdated and inefficient scheduling practices that consistently led to confusion and, worse, delays in care.

Instead, with the symplr platform, staff were able to consistently contact available clinicians with accuracy and efficiency.

The symplr solution also replaced Great River’s basic messaging application. Using symplr Clinical Communications, all clinical and non-clinical staff could securely message individuals, roles, or entire teams with ease.

In addition, one of the most important functions among the platform’s messaging capabilities for Great River was the ability to share images in a HIPAA-compliant manner. For example, according to Angie Box, MSHI, BSN, RN, Director of Clinical informatics, “In one case, a physician was having issues with the EHR during a consult and needed help.

Because the images in Halo are HIPAA-compliant, the physician was able to snap a picture of the EHR screen and forward it to me for help. The images stay within the application, making it safe to send something that shows patient information, and it has really helped support our EHR work.”

In addition to helping Great River ensure HIPAA-compliant messaging, symplr Clinical Communications functionality helped the organization with its quality and safety communication. For example, a care team identified an EHR workflow for a specific medication that could have had adverse effects on a patient, and they knew it needed to be addressed immediately.

The platform enabled the care team to quickly message the clinical informatics and quality teams as well as nursing leaders.

The system's healthcare leaders found that they can also use symplr Clinical Communications to blast important information that must be conveyed quickly and urgently to the entire organization. Examples include notifications that the EHR is down or there is a lockdown in the ICU.

The breadth of symplr Clinical Communications' functionality has helped streamline both clinical and organizational communication to improve operations and care delivery.


Through its use of symplr Clinical Communications, the Great River Health system:  

1. Unified all clinical and non-clinical staff on one communication platform

"Being in a support role for the health system, we use it every day as part of our workflows and to support the clinical teams. As we partner with different departments, providers, and clinics, it is a great tool for them to reach out to us directly and let us know what is happening in real-time, especially if it is affecting patient care... It is our one organizational communication tool now, and we couldn’t be happier with the results." —Angie Box, MSHI, BSN, RN, Director of Clinical Informatics.

2. Drastically upgraded its on-call scheduling and HIPAA-compliant messaging technology to allow real-time schedule changes, maintain accuracy, and ensure the right information was received instantly by the right person

"The previous Excel spreadsheet had to be updated and printed out, which was a very manual process, and we never knew if things were accurate. Now everything is up to date and it has completely changed our on-call system schedule. As we add facilities and providers, we train all the new users and incorporate their schedules into our system so we can all communicate on the same platform. When we message other clinicians, we reach them immediately." —Michael McCoy, MD, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer. 

3. Improved efficiency of clinical care and communication

"Being able to communicate quickly with fewer interruptions has been a big deal. Having doctors on the same platform provides great continuity of care for our patients and, with [symplr Clinical Communications], I can take a quick look at a message and continue my work without having to stop the task at hand. It makes me more efficient. With the number of regional locations Great River Health system has, consulting with physicians throughout the entire health system has become much easier." —Michael McCoy, MD, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer.  

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