When communications work, patients win

Terry Edwards

President and CEO

Herbert Schumm, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs, St. Rita’s Medical Center

Becker's Hospital Review

October 22, 2014

In every hospital, communication is at the heart of what care teams do. Physicians need to communicate with one another for consultations; nurses need to reach physicians to update physicians and receive orders. Case managers need to communicate with nurses and physicians to ensure on-time discharges and proper care transitions.

All of these communications are important — and they’re critical to deliver the best care possible to patients. Many hospitals, however, still treat their clinical communication processes as an afterthought, relying on antiquated, manual and inefficient communications tools and systems. It’s not abnormal for hospitals to require a nurse to juggle complicated information related to physician schedules, on-call hours and best method of contact, often stored on paper or in Rolodexes.

These kinds of outdated communications processes are not just inefficient; they also have a negative impact on patient care. In fact, according to The Joint Commission, communication breakdowns are the single greatest contributing factor to sentinel events and delays in care in U.S. hospitals.

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