Clinical communication and collaboration are critical to a healthcare organization’s delivery of effective patient-centered care. But for healthcare leaders looking to make a tangible impact on key performance metrics, terms like “clinical collaboration” and “care team communication” can feel a bit abstract.
Some may question:
What’s the best way to improve care team communication? Is it as simple as HIPAA-compliant text messaging? Is there more to “clinical collaboration” than juggling workarounds and niche vendors?
Whether you’d like to understand the effect that communication can have on patient care and clinician satisfaction, you’re trying to choose the best clinical communication app, or you just need to know where to focus first, this guide can help.
Impact of Communication in Healthcare | Improving Communication and Patient Safety | Top Digital Solutions | Choosing the Right Solutions | Infographic: 8-Step Overhaul Checklist | Future of Technology in Healthcare
What is the impact of communication in healthcare?
80% of all medical errors involve miscommunication.1
Healthcare communication, sometimes known as clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C), is one of the most essential—and deceptively complex—aspects of patient care. The quality and speed of patient care delivery rely on the care team’s ability to communicate critical information accurately and rapidly.
Yet 14% of messages go to the wrong clinician at the wrong time.2
Poor communication is a key contributor to:
- Medical Errors
- Care Delays
- Declining Patient Satisfaction
- Increasing Provider Burnout
Patient expectations, which are critical in shaping their experience with healthcare organizations, continue to evolve in the age of value-based care. Mistakes, care delays, confusion, and frustration among care teams impact patient outcomes and are now reflected in HCAHPS scores and CMS reimbursements.
Joining patient satisfaction is the priority of provider satisfaction and its impact on burnout and turnover. Recently, pandemic-related surges in patient demand and declining resource availability have made care coordination more exhausting, making smooth collaboration more essential in combatting burnout.
Improving Clinical Communication and Patient Safety
Hospitals and health systems looking to improve clinical communication and patient safety should start by taking an honest look at the workflows and potential gaps that exist within and across your organization’s various roles and departments.
Where are your opportunities for improvement? Think about answers to the following questions.
Accelerating Speed to Care
- Does communication at your organization always reach the right provider in a timely manner?
- Could your teams accelerate speed to care by reducing the number of steps in the existing communication workflows?
Eliminating extra steps reduced UT Medical Center’s time to initiate clinical communication by 76.3%.
Reducing Provider Interruptions
- Do physicians get nonurgent interruptions during patient encounters, surgery, or other critical moments while administering care?
- Do your providers have the ability to “unplug” and recharge during their time off to help prevent burnout, or do they get interrupted with misdirected communication?
Burned out physicians are 2x as likely to be involved in patient safety accidents.
Enhancing Patient and Family Communication
- Do you provide appointment reminders or virtual check-in to support patient safety and satisfaction?
- Can nurses easily and securely communicate with patients and update their family members?
Texting patients helped Park Nicollet reduce patient readmissions by 32% and cut nurse phone calls by 25%.
If you answered “No” to any of the questions above, you have identified an opportunity for improvement. Fortunately, healthcare technology has come a long way in a short period of time, and it is easier than ever to replace siloed tools and systems with integrated clinical collaboration solutions.
What are the top digital solutions for clinical communication?
The simplest answer is: It depends. There are various clinical collaboration tools that exist to serve specific purposes. Since each health system, hospital, and even department has unique needs, the best choice is to work with a solution that offers broad integration capabilities. Select a vendor that operates as a care delivery partner and has the agility to evolve with your organization’s needs over time.
Identifying the right clinical collaboration system for your organization will require collaboration among your internal leadership if you hope to minimize your vendor footprint, avoid creating more silos, and maximize ROI.
How to Choose the Right Clinical Communication Software
Sometimes for hospitals and health systems, the hardest part about improving clinical communication and patient safety is figuring out where to start. To help, we created a checklist infographic summarizing the eight steps to a strategic clinical communication upgrade outlined by Julie Mills, DNP, MBA, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Sr. Director of Clinical Solutions at PerfectServe.3
8 Steps to a Clinical Communication Upgrade
- Create a multidisciplinary decision-making team.
- Calculate the financial impact.
- Start your list of requirements with HIPAA compliance.
- Recodify time-tested policies.
- Pilot while priming physician buy-in.
- Work through communication workflows.
- Choose your hardware.
- Create a closed loop for continual improvement.
What is the future of technology in healthcare?
Technology will continue to provide new and better ways to support healthcare processes, streamline clinical communication, and enhance patient safety. That’s why it is important to be selective when considering new vendors and systems. The right choices can unify and simplify care team collaboration, but the wrong choices could add silos, waste resources, and impede patient-centered care.
Prioritize integration and look for solutions that unify as many workflows as possible—clinical communication, provider scheduling, patient communication, patient family updates—into one user-friendly platform accessible from anywhere on any device.
- Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Releases Targeted Solutions Tool for Hand-Off Communication, Aug. 2012: jointcommission.org
- Paging Dr. Right, ACP Hospitalist, Stacey Butterfield, May 2012: acphospitalist.org/archives/2012/05/success.htm
- Checklist for a successful clinical communication overhaul, Nursing Management, Mills, Julie MBA, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Vol. 52, Issue 1, p. 10-13, Jan. 2021: journals.lww.com/nursingmanagement/Fulltext/2021/01000/Checklist_for_a_successful_clinical_communication.4.aspx#