5 Ways Clinical Communication Technology Reduces Clinician Workload

A clinical collaboration platform can make it easier and quicker for physicians to coordinate care inside and outside the organization, giving physicians more time to focus on patients.  With increased demands for documentation, streamlined communication can help reduce click fatigue and better support physician work-life balance. Click on the image below to get the infographic!

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How to Improve Nursing Communication and Collaboration

Nurses are trusted experts who provide incredible patient care. The profession is a calling, a passion, and it is incredibly important that we have the nursing workforce that prioritizes caring for themselves to be fully present for the patients who need them.” – Ryannon Frederick, Chief Nursing Officer, Mayo Clinic, (Becker’s Hospital Review).1

Outdated systems, silos, and disconnected communication among nurses and physicians cause added strain to an already in-demand nursing workforce.2 Nurses can work 9-5 at an acute care facility or they can be seen pushing through 10 to 12-hour rotations. In every situation, nurse communication is a crucial part of their shift, as they are required to share accurate patient information between care providers, in addition to the other responsibilities required of a front-line caregiver for patients and their families. 

If they had a list of additional job descriptions and responsibilities, it would include:

  • Prescription Interventionist
  • Medical Administrator/Transcriptionist
  • Emergency Responder
  • Counselor/Therapist
  • Care Coordinator
  • Educator 
  • Server
  • Mechanic
  • IT Troubleshooter
  • You name it, they probably do it.

Let’s now look at how nurses communicate and balance responsibilities in different contexts.

Nurse Collaboration at Hospitals and Clinics: The Current Situation

Nurses at Hospitals

Imagine you’re in the ED. You have to react moment by moment in the queue as patients pour in, decompensating right in front you. How do you respond? Which patients need care faster? These nurse triage decisions can feel overwhelming.

Now imagine you’re a nurse on the labor and delivery floor. Last-minute emergency C-sections, women rapidly moving through the stages of labor, and patient screams echoing through the hallways. An infant may get rushed and transferred to the NICU for additional neonatal nursing care. It may be an intense, yet rewarding experience when the babies arrive.

Nurses face many different scenarios ranging from geriatric to post surgery care, all while maintaining required documentation demands and changing shift schedules. Nurses have to collaborate quickly and there is a need for communication to be efficient, timely, and reliable. If nurses need to make frequent calls to another care provider, patients may not receive adequate treatment on time.

Nurses at Private Practice Clinics

Imagine this situation at a medical specialist office. They have 2 main clinic locations, and different patient demographics visit each site. Nurses are required at both locations, yet office A is open until 7 PM while office B closes at 5 PM.

It’s 5:10 PM. One patient who regularly visits office B accidentally calls office A from their Google search, thinking they can walk-in to the clinic. The call messaging routes them incorrectly to office A. The covering on-call nurse says it’s okay for them to check in to the office for their chronic condition. However, the on-call nurse doesn’t see in their health record which location this patient usually visits, and there is a lack of notes on file. The nurse waits for a long time, and the patient doesn’t arrive. Frustrated about a lack of provider collaboration and communication, the patient leaves a 1-star review online for the clinic.

The next day, the physician and nurse on-call at site B call site A, disappointed their clinic location received a low patient satisfaction rating. They get the practice owner and manager involved. Now they have a warning discussion with the nurse on-call, when it was truly a breakdown in communication systems for their healthcare clinic.

The physician and nurse collaboration framework in this faux scenario led to poor patient outcomes. In one real-life study, nurses may not always have input or say on how a medical practice is managed. “The participants stated that if nurses were more involved in the development of nursing policies, this would have a positive influence on patient care.”3

Poor communication between clinicians and patients can result in misunderstandings about medications and the miscommunication of follow up instructions, which can result in poor outcomes and readmissions, and could result in a patient coming to harm.4

Whether nurses work for a hospital or private medical practice, better scheduling collaboration and nurse communication software is needed. If nurses are able to find the best communication options for their day-to-day interactions, it would significantly reduce barriers to effective healthcare treatments.

How to Improve Nurse Collaboration for Better Support

Some nurses said they felt like labourers…if you’re not valued at work, you don’t have the desire to stay in the public system.5

Nurses Need Opportunities to Receive Care in Order to Give Care

Nurses are in short reserve, but the demand for nurses continues to grow. What can hospitals and group practices do to alleviate their stress? Organizations may increase pay incentives, but is that enough? It’s not just about the money.

Nurses need a platform to communicate not only the needs of their patients, but for their colleagues as well. Promoting team-based care, sharing of new evidence-based care guidelines, and management of staffing shortages are strategies that leaders can rely on for effective communication platforms. This reduces the burdens experienced by nurses.

When Nurses Collaborate, Patients Feel It

With all the roles nurses fill, it’s important for them to communicate in a timely manner. Nurses may leave due to burnout and better pay opportunities,6 and this could result in more miscommunication mistakes among staff. This leads to poor patient outcomes and expensive provider costs. However, there is good news…

When nurses have time to collaborate patient care through text, cell, EHR, or face-to-face, the results improve for patients and providers. Hospital executives and nurse leaders who take time to care for their teams and find appropriate medical communication solutions will create bright spots for the future of nursing.

Need a better way for nurses and clinical teams to communicate?

See how PerfectServe’s medical communication software can eliminate wasted time and help nurses be more efficient.[/vc_column_text]

1Jensik, L. (2021, October 29). Will nurses come back? 3 healthcare leaders weigh in.Becker’s Hospital Review. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/will-nurses-come-back-3-healthcare-leaders-weigh-in.html
2NursingTimes. https://www.nursingtimes.net/news
3Kieft, R.A., de Brouwer, B.B., Francke, A.L. et al. How nurses and their work environment affect patient experiences of the quality of care: a qualitative study. BMC Health Serv Res 14, 249 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-14-249
4Effects of Poor Communication in Healthcare. HIPAA Journal, https://www.hipaajournal.com/effects-of-poor-communication-in-healthcare 
5Wilton, K. (2021, September 16). ‘Not about the money’: Nursing report addresses exodus from Quebec’s public sector. Montreal Gazette. https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/not-about-the-money-nursing-report-addresses-exodus-from-quebecs-public-sector 
6Virkstis, K. (2021, August 12). Why so many nurses are leaving amid delta—and how you can keep them. Advisory Board. https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2021/08/12/nurse-shortage#our-take-weve-reached-the-tipping-pointhow-do-organizations-move-forward-see-our-3-keys

Real-Time Data Entry for Better Patient Care

Medical training encourages charting to take place as near to the care event as practical, with the key word being “practical.” In reality, clinicians and nurses often stay after shifts to do their charting, because medical data entry into the EHR is not seamless during patient care. Patient demands, alerts, and urgent interruptions may pull medical practitioners from filling out the medical chart online.

The more time that passes between the health event and the data entry, the less detailed the data input, resulting in errors. Charting errors in nursing and physician care impacts patient outcomes and creates unnecessary administrative overhead. What can be done to improve medical charting for nurses and doctors?

Benefits of Real-Time Data Entry

“Real-time electronic data is a potential treasure trove of insights, which can be analyzed to improve patient care and use nurses’ time more effectively.”
– Helen Glenister, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of The Learning Clinic1

Real-time data entry has been shown to improve patient care (particularly the identification of patients who may be deteriorating), free up more direct-care time for nurses and clinicians, and help hospitals better deploy staff and resources.

According to a study published in Nursing Times, the availability of up-to-date data can help nurses and clinicians spot patterns in data that indicate a patient is deteriorating or may have an infection.2 While some data points may automatically feed into the EHR, vital observational data from nurses and doctors are not automatically entered.

Timely electronic recording of all clinical data—including observations, assessments, and actions—gives the overall picture of a patient and provides a clear data trail in the event of a complaint or incident investigation. Real-time documentation and order entry during rounding also helps speed up care and minimize future interruptions.2

The benefits of real-time data entry are well known, but challenging to achieve in some hospitals.

Challenges to Real-Time Data Entry

Siloed technology systems, device mobility limitations, and logistical issues in some EHRs can be the biggest barriers to real-time charting. Jumping from software tool to software tool, logging on to each room’s computer, and trying to type up the information at the end of each patient round can be daunting.

“One nurse believes that since going live, EHRs have added 3 hours to a
12-hour shift.” – Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS3

In order to chart data that is accurate, actionable, and timely, the care team must be supported with an integrated solution that allows for simplified real-time charting in the EHR/EMR.

How to Achieve Real-Time EHR Data Entry

Healthcare IT integration can be very complex, but the right technology can integrate disparate IT, clinical, telecom, and EMR/EHR systems to allow information to flow freely. The result is a cohesive, integrated clinical communication ecosystem that ensures the right information is available at the right time to support quality patient-centered care.

An ideal solution will support real-time charting with:

  • Intelligent field mapping to reduce duplicate data entry.
  • Voice-to-text capability to speed up and simplify data entry.
  • An easy and elegant interface with all information available on a single platform; no switching between apps.
  • Easy transfer of clinical notes for rapid documentation.
  • Immediate delivery of critical lab and test results to the right clinician with date, time, recipient, delivery status, and read status auto-recorded to the EMR in accordance with Joint Commission requirements.
  • Mobile reminders and mobile alerts that sync with the clinical communications platform.

Next Steps for Getting Started

Explore how your team can combine real-time EHR data entry with seamless care coordination in one integrated solution by speaking with a clinical communication specialist.

 

Resources:
1. How real-time data can improve patient care, Nursing Times, Sep. 21, 2015: nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/patient-safety/how-real-time-data-can-improve-patient-care-21-09-2015/
2. How Hospitalists Can Improve Efficiency on Inpatient Wards, The Hospitalist, Rajesh Chandra, MD, FHM, et. al., May 2014: the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/126231/how-hospitalists-can-improve-efficiency-inpatient-wards
3. Electronic Nursing Documentation: Charting New Territory, Medscape, Sep. 12, 2013: medscape.com/viewarticle/810573

Improve Healthcare Operations With Clinical Workforce Analytics

“Although caregivers are burdened with reporting reams of information, they rarely consistently track the health outcomes that matter most to patients and thus to themselves as clinicians.”1

With rising labor costs,2 growing expenses, falling EBITDA, and decreasing operating margins,3 healthcare organizations need new strategies for controlling costs and improving clinical communication workflows. While analytics are often used to inform strategic decision making such as supply chain management, healthcare organizations may miss the opportunity to use analytics to maximize their most important resource: their clinical workforce.

Let’s explore how an advanced provider scheduling solution can deliver analytics that plays an essential role in improving healthcare operations.

Four Ways Workforce Analytics Improve Operations

  1. Reduce waste by adjusting staff levels to meet trends in patient demand and value-based care.
  2. Ensure patient access and minimize leakage by maximizing clinical communications capacity across locations.
  3. Improve provider retention and reduce physician and nurse burnout by increasing work-life balance and schedule autonomy.
  4. Optimize clinical staffing models to enhance productivity.

1. Reduce Wasted Resources

Advanced scheduling analytics allow your organization to identify trends in patient demand. Assess service utilization across departments and clinic locations to adjust staffing levels over time. You can analyze demand for specific services, determine the number of clinicians needed to deliver those services for a given timeframe, and reduce staff and labor costs when patient demand is lower. For example:

The Chief of Surgery wants to better understand seasonal trends in patient demand for elective surgeries. He runs a report and finds that case numbers are much lower during January and February. With granular insights into provider supply and patient demand, he is able to project exactly how many surgeons are needed during each shift. He asks the department scheduler to reduce staffing levels for January and February.

2. Ensure Patient Access

After using analytics to identify trends in patient demand, you can respond to rising demand by proactively increasing staff levels to improve patient access and increase revenue. For example:

The Emergency Department’s Medical Director runs a report and finds that during the summer months, the need for pediatric emergency care greatly increases. Currently, the team only staffs a single pediatric emergency physician. The Medical Director contacts the department scheduler and requests for a pediatric advanced practice provider to be added to the schedule for June through August.

In the example above, the ED (Emergency Department) has both increased patient access to pediatric emergency care and increased clinical capacity—helping the department generate more revenue based on a particularly common type of service for the specific timeframe. With trends in value-based care, this pediatric practice can improve patient satisfaction.

3. Improve Provider Retention

A key approach to cost reduction is to improve provider retention. Replacing a single physician can cost anywhere from $500,000 up to $1 million, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).4 This means focusing on provider satisfaction and retention could save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report, spending too many hours at work is a key contributor to provider burnout.5 But what is the definition of “too many hours” and how can you help prevent provider schedules from reaching the threshold?

Scheduling analytics help ensure certain shifts, like weekends and calls, are evenly distributed across a team of providers. You can share reports with your team that show even shift distribution. This eliminates any possible suspicion of unfairness, which may not completely eliminate the issue of spending too many hours at work, but it helps address a source of provider dissatisfaction.

4. Optimize Staffing Models

Not all providers and care team members are alike. Some prefer to work more than others, some practice part-time, and they each vary in their preferences and productivity levels, making it challenging to optimize staffing models by specialization and availability alone. Advanced medical analytics reporting provides the details needed to enhance your organization’s staffing models for productivity.

Over time, you can note which providers are more productive during specific shift times to create rules that schedule individual providers for their most productive shifts. You can then review the larger impact of certain staffing models on productivity and adjust your scheduling rules on a macro level. Without scheduling analytics, this type of insight and optimization is nearly impossible. With the evolving demands and expectations in healthcare, it is also essential.

 

Reduce Poor Workflows and Improve Patient Response Times

 

Interested in improving operations, reducing labor costs, and increasing patient and provider satisfaction with better clinical scheduling?

Learn more about the clinical workforce analytics available in our Optimized Provider Scheduling solution and how they can enhance your organization’s operations.

Resources:

  1. Tiesberg T, Wallace S, O’Hara S. Defining and Implementing Value-Based Health Care: A Strategic Framework. Academic Med. 2020 May; 95(5):682-685. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000003122
  2. Labor Management Trends, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Navigant, Aug. 2018: guidehouse.com/-/media/www/site/insights/healthcare/2018/navigant-hfma-2018-labor-pulse-survey.pdf
  3. Hospital profitability withers in November as volumes, revenues lag, Becker’s Healthcare, Morgan Haefner, Becker’s Healthcare Review, Jan. 2, 2020: beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospital-profitability-withers-in-november-as-volume-revenues-lag.html
  4. At Stanford, physician burnout costs at least $7.75 million a year, American Medical Association, Sara Berg, American Medical Association, Nov. 17, 2017: ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/stanfordphysician-burnout-costs-least-775-million-year
  5. Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020: The Generational Divide, Medscape, January 15, 2020: medscape.com/slideshow/2020-lifestyle-burnout-6012460 – 5

Managing the surprisingly troublesome impact of real-time healthcare on clinical decision-making

We live in an age of instant gratification. From the texts we send friends and family to the orders we place on Amazon.com, we’ve come to expect immediate results: instant responses, next-day shipping, etc.

The idea of immediacy in healthcare communications is not new. In fact, in 2015, healthcare analyst Gartner outlined a vision for what it dubbed the “real-time health system”—a landscape where healthcare professionals will be constantly aware of what’s happening within their systems and with their patients.

As a person living in the digital age, you’ve probably experienced real-time awareness in other parts of your life: the repetitive dings of received text messages, the intermittent beeps of calendar alerts, the near-constant hum as your smartphone vibrates over and over to let you know your mother, children and cousins have uploaded photos to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, as I’m typing this piece, I’ve heard alerts for two personal text messages that I’ve yet to look at (the temptation is maddening), four work-related emails (that I did have to stop and look at), a notification that someone commented on a thread I replied to on Facebook and more.

While there’s definitely a benefit to each of us knowing what’s happening in our expanded universe in real time—and we can easily draw a direct line to the benefits that doctors, nurses and patients would experience if they could communicate instantaneously while coordinating care—the influx of information is simply overwhelming.

And when alarm fatigue sets in, important messages get missed, the communication cycle breaks down and what was once a valuable resource becomes a liability. Overwhelmed and inundated clinicians cannot optimally use their invaluable expertise to make effective clinical decisions that deliver great health outcomes.

Aggregating, analyzing and managing the distribution of clinical information

Managing the flow of data and alert fatigue is a real challenge that clinicians and the IT teams that support them need to understand. Clinicians need “just the facts, ma’am,” so to speak, and they need to know which set of facts pertain directly to them and the patients for whom they are caring. Receiving more than enough information is not always a good thing, especially when the situation calls for fast thinking and quick decisions.

Investments made in technologies implemented over the past several years have enabled healthcare as an industry to generate very large amounts of digitized clinical information. The challenge is to aggregate this patient data in real time to generate new knowledge about a patient and distribute it in a way that does not inundate the clinician recipients with unnecessary information. Physicians and nurses should receive information they need in order to act in that moment. Everything else is noise.


Learn how a care team communication solution can enable your clinical integration strategy. Get a demo.


Implementing communication-driven workflows

Once new knowledge is made available and deemed relevant to a given clinical situation, it’s important to enable workflows that drive this information to the right care team members, who can take action in that moment. Hospital-based communication workflows must encompass all modalities, adhere to strict security mandates and facilitate reliable exchanges among clinicians across boundaries (e.g., acute, pre-acute and post-acute care settings). This kind of clinical integration is the future of healthcare communications.

If clinicians are inundated with unnecessary information, messages and alerts, combined with a communication workflow that creates barriers to a) finding the right care team member to contact, b) finding the contact method that the clinician prefers and c) knowing whether the intended recipient received the message, the workflow is flawed and is inhibiting the decision-making that leads to higher standards of patient care.

Leveraging clinical expertise

The personal judgment of experienced healthcare professionals is irreplaceable in effective, real-time decision-making. Technological advances are no doubt improving healthcare, but human intuition can never be replaced by a new device or software. However, that intuition can be inhibited by technologies if they are not strategically implemented and managed. In this sense, real-time healthcare could, ironically, be eroding quality.

To truly leverage the hundreds of collective years of clinical expertise housed in the minds of your hospital’s medical staff—the expertise that yields great outcomes—you must remove the barriers to effective communication. Collecting patient data in real time is an important part of that. But analyzing and aggregating that data into digestible, valuable pieces of information that can be easily shared and collaborated on is the follow-through that is often overlooked.

The gravitation toward instant gratification isn’t going away. And it’s important to understand that the concept doesn’t apply simply to generating patient data as healthcare events are occurring, but also to the ability to extract the significant portions and begin collaborating with the broader care team to interpret the data and derive a plan to deliver high-value care.

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The Top 5 things You Can Do with PerfectServe (Video)

Fast-paced and timely decisions occur every day for nurses and physicians. Clinicians receive an overwhelming amount of communications each day. These decisions directly affect patient transfers, chronic follow-up management, and patient satisfaction outcomes.

What if there was a way to streamline and consolidate those clinical communications? And make sure you’re contacting the person you need to reach, rather than searching and struggling to find them for relevant medical information?

Watch the above video to learn about the top 5 things you can do with PerfectServe.

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