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!

Infographic Evaluate Physician Satisfaction

Ready to see what PerfectServe can do for you?

Support Nurses Ability to Easily Communicate with Providers and Patients

Siloed communication infrastructure adds to nurse’s workload when they desperately need ways to reduce their administrative responsibilities. Empower nurses to communicate with each other, providers, and patients without logging in and out of several solutions to do so.

Reaching Providers and Patients’ Family Members Consumes Time

Nurses are responsible for multiple administrative duties on top of providing an upstanding standard of care for their patients that requires an abundant amount of collaboration and support.

Some nurses spend 33% of their shift interacting with technology and only 16% of their time on direct patient care.

Updating family members, getting a hold of the correct physician in a timely manner, communicating with respiratory, physical therapy, radiology in addition to coordinating with the nursing staff on their unit are just a few of the communications that happen throughout the nurses shift.

The time consumption initiating communications with different departments and providers could be precious time taken away from a patient’s care. A bandage may be left for the next shift to change, medications get administered later than ordered, patients miss a day of physical therapy because the nurse was unable to pull away from other tasks to help PT. Ultimately, the administrative burden nurses are under unfortunately can result in poor patient outcomes.

Tackling Nurse Communication Silos

Text, badge, EMR, email, phone – too much technology reduces efficiencies. When nurses need to login to the EMR for a critical lab result, phone a patient’s family member, use their badge to communicate with other nurses and then text the on-call provider regarding their patient, too much time is spent logging in and out of various solutions. Efficiencies can be gained just from reducing the number of technologies nurses need to use and reference.

The result – both improved nurse satisfaction and improved outcomes for patients. We want to reduce frustrations nurses encounter day to day, and streamline communication for all care team members.

With family members the inefficiencies are similar, find the correct number, call, no answer, leave a voicemail. Or find and call the alternate phone number and speak with a family member who has 20 minutes of questions, while the nurse is on the phone, the physician has returned the page and the nurse missed their call due to the fact that the nurse was on the line with the family member.

Clinical Communication Governance

Leading organizations have clear policies around communication response times, such as a routine message must be responded to in 60 minutes but an urgent message within 30 and STAT within 15. This becomes increasingly difficult without the right, and siloed, communication tools.

Text First Approach

82% of text messages will be read within five minutes of being sent—with an average response time of just 90 seconds.

A text first approach for all clinicians provides a single app to be used for nurse, provider, patient and auxiliary staff to ensure tight coordination of patient care. Look for a solution that also embeds into the EMR to improve clinical workflows. Nurses should be able to see a patient record from their mobile, the communication stream between care team members, critical lab results and any other pertinent details that will keep them abreast of their patient from any location—decoupling them from the nurse station.

Connect with our team to learn more.

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.

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

3 Ways to Save Nurses’ Time With Better Communication

Nurses play a central role in providing patient-centered, cost-effective care. They are responsible for care coordination and communication with each patient’s family members, as well as a growing care team of physicians and specialists, ancillary staff, and care coordinators. In addition to nurses’ growing list of daily non-clinical tasks, inefficient care coordination workflows prevent them from providing better patient care.

A 2018 time and motion study revealed that in four hours, nurses spent around 32 minutes communicating with patients and family and 51 minutes communicating and coordinating care with members of the care team1—fully 34.6% of nurses’ time each day. Technology aimed at improving nurse workflows has often contributed to their frustration by adding siloed, task-specific “solutions” to their workload. On top of this, nurse turnover rates increased from 13.5% to 16.7% during 2019.2 From 2020-2021, nurses felt burnt out and overworked due to increased patient demand, poor communication, and hospital staffing shortages.

Let’s talk about an alternative approach to help these medical heroes on the frontlines. Read below for three ways clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology can help healthcare organizations empower their nurses to drive patient-centered care.

Reduce Communication Cycle Times

Communication workflows can be cumbersome, requiring nurses to reference several systems or paper on-call schedules. When they go to page, call, and relay information through the office staff, they have to wait for the intended recipient to call back. This error-prone process causes care delays and requires repetitive steps when a provider is unavailable.

An improved communication strategy built around an integrated healthcare solution can reduce average response times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes or less.3 Here are a few capabilities that make it easier for nurses to find the right physician at the right time:

  • A single, unified directory to find and contact clinicians by name, role, and on-call status (e.g. “cardiologist on call”).
  • Ability to send messages to the whole patient care team at the touch of a button.
  • Built-in physician contact preferences to ensure communication is delivered via the most preferred messaging alert method.
  • Read receipts and smart escalation routing to ensure messages are read, acknowledged, and acted upon in a timely manner.
  • Message history and EHR integration for quick context.

Faster communication leads to a safer, quicker, and higher-quality patient experience.

“When healthcare professionals communicate effectively—conveying critical information in a timely or easily understandable manner, clearly spelling out orders or instructions, and answering questions thoroughly and thoughtfully—they deliver safer and higher-quality care.” -James Merlino, MD

Integrate Alerts and Critical Result Notifications

Alarms, alerts, and other notifications continue to be named among the top 10 health technology hazards for 2020,4 impacting patient satisfaction and contributing to alarm fatigue. This fatigue continues to be an issue for healthcare employees and nursing staff.

In a 2015 study, nurses reported that only 52% of bed calls required nursing care, while others could be answered by support staff.5 Constant interruptions reduce care efficiency and require nurses to make multiple unnecessary trips to patient rooms. While nurses are inundated with alerts, they are not adequately alerted of critical results and orders that truly need their assistance. They are forced to repeatedly check the EHR for updates, wasting valuable time for patients in need.

Centralizing alerts and communication across multiple systems, including the EHR and nurse call system, can eliminate noise, add context to alert notifications, and call attention to critical alerts by allowing:

  • Delivery of alerts to mobile devices, where nurses can accept, escalate, or call back to speak with the patient.
  • Push notification of critical results (lab or radiology) or physician orders to speed up time to care.
  • Routing of nonclinical alerts to patient care techs or nursing assistants.
  • Workflow rules to help ensure that only critical alarms disrupt normal workflows and are differentiated with a distinct alert tone.
  • Clinical surveillance to send push alerts for sepsis, respiratory deterioration, organ failure, etc.
  • Routing of “leads off” alarms to only alert the nurse assigned to that specific patient, set to escalate to the charge nurse if the assigned nurse does not respond within a predetermined time frame, eliminating an audible, ward-wide alert.

In addition to better medical alert systems, learn how nurses can improve self-care.

Simplify Patient Engagement

Nurses are tasked with keeping family members up to date on patient status, sharing care instructions, arranging discharge, and following up with patients and their families after discharge. As nurses invest increasing amounts of time in patient and family engagement activities, they become more confined to the nurses’ station and less available at the patient bedside.

Post-discharge patient engagement relies heavily on phone communication. This has a declining impact due to phone tags and low voicemail retrieval rates. With spammy robocalls and unsolicited messages on the rise, it’s no wonder patient follow-up becomes an arduous task.

On the other hand, secure texting with patients and families allows health systems to automate more effective outreach in the following ways:

  • Share care instructions, arrange discharge, and answer questions.
  • Route inbound messages to the call center, rather than the nurse, for triage.
  • Automate patient outreach, such as surveys, post-discharge instructions (tailored to the patient profile), and referrals.
  • Support two-way communication and allow individuals to respond to patients as needed, leveraging the expertise of nurse assistants, call agents, and more.

Start Saving Nurses’ Time

PerfectServe’s CC&C solution with patient engagement capabilities helps streamline nurse workflows, reduce care delays, improve patient safety, and boost patient satisfaction.

PerfectServe’s Solution for Nurses

 

References:

  1. Nurses’ Time Allocation and Multitasking of Nursing Activities: A Time Motion Study, AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2018: 1137-1146, Yen, P. et al., 2018: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371290/#r34-2975707
  2. Why so many nurses are quitting (and what to do about it), Peng, J., Rewers, L., 2021: https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2021/10/06/nurse-turnover
  3. Secure Clinical Communications Makes Real Patient Impact, Health IT Outcomes, Griffith, A., 2015: healthitoutcomes.com/doc/secure-clinical-communications-makes-real-patient-impact-0001
  4. 2020 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Executive Brief, 2020: org/landing-2020-top-ten-health-technology-hazards
  5. Interruptions of nurses’ activities and patient safety: an integrative literature review, Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, Monteiro Cintia et al., 2015: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376046

Elevating the Role of the Nurse to Support Value-Based Care

When nurses collaborate together, they help the patients and healthcare systems win together. As healthcare has evolved toward a value-based payment model, nurses bridge the gap between hospital leadership and the patient experience. Progressive and innovative healthcare organizations are embracing this new focus on value-based care. It has shifted toward an interdisciplinary approach which leverages population health management and social determinants of health. This increase in patient engagement improves outcomes across the spectrum of care.

“Nursing is a critical player that can directly or indirectly influence hospital performance in the 3 CMS value-based care programs…Nurses are the curial hub that links individuals with the disparate spokes of the health system.”¹

The role of the nurse elevates with value-based care. Nurses provide more patient-centered, efficient, and cost-effective care. From the pre-appointment and intake to discharge and follow-up, nurses can streamline clinical workflows. In the primary care setting, progressive providers have increased patient access by conducting nurse-only patient visits, during which registered nurses document patient histories, order lab or other diagnostic tests, and determine patient acuity. If these wellness visits are virtual, nurses can triage if the patient needs to be admitted right away or if an appointment should be scheduled with their specialist or primary care physician. 

Increased Demand for Nurse-to-Patient Care

To meet the increased demands of value-based care, nurses must work to the top of their licensure. Studies conducted several years ago indicated that, on average, nurses spend as little as 25% to 30% of their time at the bedside.2 On top of clinical workloads, nurses are responsible for care coordination and collaboration among an expanding team of medical professionals and specialists.

Care teams have expanded under value-based care incentives to include nurses, physicians, therapists, and home care workers across multiple hospitals and acute and primary settings. Through these changes, nurses struggle with inefficient workflows associated with legacy communication devices and numerous clinical and communication systems. 

What is being done to help nurses spend more quality time with patients? 

Read how Orange Coast Medical Center implemented PerfectServe’s Clinical Communication & Collaboration system to give time back to nurses for a better patient experience.

Read Our Success Story

The key to supporting the elevation of the nurse is the elimination of activities that do not directly contribute to the health and well-being of patients. The incorporation of innovative technology can assist in this effort. For example, advanced communication technology can help nurses communicate efficiently with other members of the care team including those off-site, such as home health nurses and healthcare professionals at specialized hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and wound care clinics. 

HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging may take over many of the time-consuming communication tasks to prepare or follow-up with patients. The ideal solution helps reduce non-clinical tasks to allow nurses to focus their time on those patients who need additional care or have chronic condition management needs.

How PerfectServe’s Platform Helps Nurse Collaboration

PerfectServe’s clinical communication and care coordination platform addresses the inefficiencies of work processes and administrative tasks. This allows nurses to assume a more significant role under value-based care, including:

  • Care Team Coordination – Collaborate with providers inside and outside the network. Connect with on-call care team members as a group, or by name or role such as “On-Call Cardiologist.” This ensures a nurse can reach the right physician at the right time to accelerate outcomes, without the inefficiencies of referencing call schedules or playing phone-to-pager tag with physicians.
  • Pre-Appointment Patient Communication – Automate the communication for day-of-procedure information, appointment reminders, and wayfinding to prepare patients for upcoming appointments or procedures.
  • PostAppointment Patient Communication – Automate post-discharge communications to reiterate the care plan, send timely reminders (such as follow-up scheduling and prescription pick up), and assess patient health status and satisfaction with text-first survey questionnaires. Nurses can prioritize follow-up time to only those patients in need of clinical intervention.
  • Time-Critical Updates – Rather than force nurses to log into the EHR to check for results or orders, critical updates (orders and critical lab results) are pushed to the nurse and other care team members to speed up care coordination and delivery.
  • Real-Time Charting – A mobile, easy-to-use interface to access patient information and take notes, with text shortcuts, voice-to-text, and intelligent field mapping to reduce duplicate data entry.
  • Nurse Call, Alarms, Alerts – Nurses receive alerts on their mobile devices and web apps, where they can accept, escalate for assistance, or call back to speak with the patient.

By expanding the role and leadership of registered nurses and implementing improved processes facilitated by innovative technology, healthcare organizations can transform healthcare delivery, achieving improved efficiency and better outcomes at lower costs.

Learn More

1https://www.nurseleader.com/article/S1541-4612(20)30210-X/fulltext
2https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/nursing/outsourcing-discharge-follow-calls-keep-nurses-bedside

The role of secure communications in your clinical integration strategy

If you could take one solution with you on your journey to clinical integration, what would it be?

Clinical integration is the unification of healthcare data, services and coordination across acute, outpatient and post-acute care. It portrays an environment where waste and inefficiency are all but eliminated from healthcare communications, costs decrease and care improves. It’s the future of medicine.

You wouldn’t be far off course if your first thought was to rely heavily on the EHR to support your clinical integration strategy. While the EHR is a valuable tool for sharing patient information within hospital systems and broader care networks, it lacks a fundamental quality that bridges the gaps between Meaningful Use and true clinical integration.

Fully realized clinical integration can only occur when the barriers of communication have been broken down, and interdisciplinary clinicians can accurately and reliably coordinate care in real time across organizational and geographical boundaries. As with most things related to healthcare communication and the sharing of information across disparate networks, securing those communications has been and will continue to be a primary focus for healthcare IT leaders. In an environment where healthcare organizations are driving toward an end-goal of clinical integration, enabling secure communications alone just isn’t enough.

To achieve clinical integration, clinicians need a solution that enables immediate, accurate, reliable and secure communications.

Immediacy in healthcare communication

Real-time communication is a crucial element of delivering high-value care. In the most critical emergencies, every second counts. The time that clinicians waste identifying the right on-call care team member to contact, and then trying to reach that person, can quite literally be the difference between life and death. Even in non-emergent situations, early detection and treatment are well-known effective preventers of worsening conditions.

Yet it’s all too common for inefficient and broken communication workflows to create time-consuming hurdles for clinicians to clear—sometimes even to just begin the conversation.

Clinically integrated settings approach clinician-to-clinician communication with a sense of real-time urgency. That’s not to say that every message should be sent with an emergency status, just that the process of identifying the provider you need to connect to and the delivery of that message should be seamless and immediate.

Reaching the right care team member on the first attempt should be an important metric for all hospital systems. To keep performance numbers high in this area, you must ensure clinicians always know exactly whom to contact for any given medical issue.

However, most clinicians today initiate time-sensitive contact to the broader care team by thumbing through a lengthy paper-based on-call schedule, making a call, and then waiting to receive a response.

Real-time clinical communication and collaboration tools immediately deliver secure communications, and even allow the clinician initiating the communication to see in real time when messages are delivered and read.

Contact accuracy

Reaching providers on the first attempt is important, but it’s just as important to reach the right provider—the one who can act on the medical issue at that moment—via his or her preferred method of contact.

It’s not uncommon for providers to have a different preferred contact medium for every variance of their schedule. And it’s not uncommon for those schedules to change at a moment’s notice. Yet many hospitals, in both small and large systems, only print the schedule and patient assignment lists once per day.

Clinicians in this setting have no way of knowing if they are accurately reaching out to the right providers via the right contact method. Manually producing a list of whom to contact and how is a process riddled with opportunity for inefficiency and inaccuracy.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing™ eliminates those opportunities for communication breakdown. A distinct capability of PerfectServe, Dynamic Intelligent Routing analyzes workflows, call schedules and contact preferences, enabling clinicians to reach the right person at the right time with just the tap of a button.

Reliable communication workflows

If your clinicians depend on inaccurate call schedules or outdated, cumbersome processes to drive clinical communications, your communication workflow isn’t reliable.

When clinicians can immediately contact the care team member they need via that provider’s preferred contact method, communication workflows become reliable and trustworthy, which leads to high adoption and improved patient care, no matter the care setting.

From improved care coordination to reduced costs

Inefficient communication workflows not only interfere with the realization of clinical integration, but also they inflate healthcare costs. For example, if a radiologist identifies a critical result in an outpatient test, the radiologist needs to contact the patient’s PCP so action can be taken right away. If the communication is not immediate, accurate or reliable, the process breaks down and the delay could result in medical complications for the patient that end up costing more to treat.

Moving a patient safely through the admissions, treatment, discharge and post-acute care processes requires a tremendous amount of coordination, good communication and a sound clinical integration strategy. The tools you use to support that communication and collaboration will play an important role in your success.

See how an innovative partner rated Best in KLAS for Clinical Communications after four consecutive years leading the category can help ensure you’ve got the right solutions working for you.

Safeguarding security: 4 tactics for secure clinical communication and collaboration

I had the honor of speaking at the 2016 Becker’s Hospital Review Annual CIO/HIT + Revenue Cycle Summit, discussing the elements needed to truly secure clinical communications with some of the best minds in the healthcare world. With a number of recent high profile news stories announcing ransomware attacks in hospitals and health systems, security and the ability to secure clinical information is top of mind for many.

Those who oversee organizational data and IT systems recognize the importance of securing communication channels containing ePHI as they build a unified communications strategy. While security and regulatory mandates are essential elements of a clinical communication strategy, to create a truly successful strategy, the needs of those who provide care: physicians, nurses, therapists and others on the care team – in any setting – at any time – must be addressed flawlessly and securely.

To do so, there a few tactics to keep in mind:

Understand what the HIPAA Security Rule actually states

There’s been a lot of confusion in the industry when it comes to HIPAA compliance and communication. I often notice that many organizations think this is all about secure text messaging, which is incomplete. The Security Rule never speaks to a particular technology or communications modality, application or device. It is technology neutral.

HIPAA compliance is about the system of physical, administrative and technical safeguards that your organization puts in place to to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all ePHI it creates, receives, maintains or transmits. Because of this, there is no such thing as a HIPAA-compliant app.

Understand care team dynamics 

Care team members are mobile and they employ workflows to receive communication based upon situational variables such as origin, purpose, urgency, day, time, call schedules, patient and more. The variables determine who should be contacted and how to do so for every communications event.

For this reason, third parties (hospital switchboards and answering services) and disparate technologies are used in organizations’ clinical communication processes. Understanding this variety of technologies and actors is key to accurately assessing your organization’s compliance risk. And, coming up with strategies to effectively address that risk is key.

Secure text messaging is essential, but it’s not sufficient

While secure messaging is an essential component of your overall strategy, it’s not sufficient because:

  1. it requires the sender to always know who it is they need to reach—by name.
  2. it requires the recipient to always be available to other care team members 24/7.

These requirements are inconsistent with the complexity inherent in communication workflows that enable time-sensitive care delivery processes, because they don’t address the situational variables I described above.

Secure messaging is only one piece of what should be a much larger communications strategy—one that should address clinician workflows and multi-modal communications channels for all care team members.

Your goal should be to enable more effective care team collaboration 

Organizations often focus on achieving HIPAA-compliance. This is a flawed objective. The focus should be on achieving more effective care team collaboration. If this is done effectively, achieving HIPAA-compliance will come along for the ride.

Six essential capabilities 

An effective secure clinical communications and collaboration strategy will include the following six elements.

  1. It will facilitate communication-driven workflows that enable time-sensitive care delivery processes. An example of a communications-driven workflow is stroke diagnosis and treatment. When a patient with stroke symptoms presents in the ED, one of the first things the ED physician does is initiate a communications workflow to contact the neurologist covering that ED at that moment in time, while simultaneously notifying and mobilizing a stroke team to complete a CT scan to determine if it is safe to administer tPA, the drug that arrests the stroke. Time is critical. Healthcare is chock full of these kinds of workflows, executed every day in every hospital by the hundreds and thousands.
  1. It will provide technology that automatically identifies and provides an immediate connection to the right care team member for any given clinical situation—this is nursing’s greatest need! Your strategy should be to bypass third parties and eliminate all the manual tools and processes used to figure out who’s in what role right now given the situation at hand. Ignoring this need means you won’t achieve adoption, which means your organization will still be at risk.
  1. It should extend beyond any department and the four walls of the hospital. It should enable cross-organizational communication workflows. This is increasingly important under value-based care where care team members must collaborate across interdependent organizations to deliver better care.
  1. It should secure the creation, transmission and access of ePHI across all communication modalities—not just text messaging. Enough said!
  1. It should integrate with your other clinical systems to leverage the data within those systems to facilitate new communication workflows. This is key to enabling “real-time healthcare.”
  1. It should provide analytics to monitor your communication processes and continuously improve those processes over time.

With these capabilities in place, secure clinical communication simply becomes another positive result of implementing a broader care team collaboration strategy, designed to address clinical efficiency and improve patient care delivery.

Schedule a Demo

 

3 “must-haves” for simplifying complex clinical communications

Part 3 of a 3-part series in conjunction with our nurse leadership webinar series.

Imagine a world where you launch the EMR, review a patient’s chart, and want to discuss it with the covering cardiologist that day. You click a link for the cardiologist within the EMR and it references that provider’s group workflow processes, reviews their schedules and monitors their momentary status to direct you to the correct provider. Then you type your message. The patient’s information is pulled from the EMR and is securely routed to the recipient based on their contact preference in that moment. It can happen – but this is not the norm in most healthcare facilities today.

Practicing medicine today is complex – clinicians need to consider an ever-changing landscape, federal and state regulations, not to mention the many different innovations designed to help streamline everything from care delivery to reimbursement. Adding to the complexity are the many different providers treating patients, working across various care settings with large care teams.

Given the vastness of these care networks, it can be daunting – albeit necessary – to coordinate care. One way to help connect clinicians in all care settings and improve care team collaboration is through a comprehensive communication solution.

It’s important to first understand why clinical communication is complex and why many of the technologies implemented today aren’t solving the issues clinicians are facing. Factors such as the patient’s reason for contact, the physician’s location, team coverage, degree of urgency and unassigned ER calls all impact the communication process.

Looking across varied care settings, people, processes and preferences also differ. Between inpatient and outpatient facilities, medical group practices and post-acute care, there are many variations in care team communication strategies and approaches that make it prone to gaps and breakdowns. In fact, one of the most frustrating parts of a nurse’s job is the daily battle to determine the correct covering provider.

In this complex environment with so many participants, the continuum of patient care demands that communication solutions span much further than the four walls of a hospital or practice. And as healthcare delivery models change, it’s imperative that care coordination, and the communication that drives it, be streamlined and efficient across all of these settings. When looking for a platform to simplify clinical communication, healthcare organizations should keep the following three “must have” capabilities in mind:

  • Span the entire care continuum: A comprehensive solution must address the needs of all care team members across all types of settings – from a single hospital to a multi-site system, as well as outpatient practices and care settings. They all have different demands and communication requirements. For example, larger practices and hospitals need advanced directory capabilities to bring the opportunity to coordinate care based on facility, group or ACOs, with the appropriate workflow processes built in. In addition, the solution should have the ability to generate real-time patient updates – such as when the patient presents to the emergency department, is discharged home, or when important results are available. This is essential to timely coordination of care. Finally, it’s imperative that the communication solution connect to the organization’s other HIT systems to maintain integration for alarms and alerts, such as if stroke team is activated. It’s critical that covering providers respond quickly and that a back-up process is in place.
  • Provide a standardized, yet flexible way to communicate: Clinicians should have flexible, yet standardized communication options that allow their messages to be routed appropriately and securely, and account for today’s technology. Gone are the days of referencing binders, faxed schedules or notes taped to the wall or desk. Once the communication process is initiated, the process should seamlessly connect you with the correct covering provider for the clinical situation at hand – whether through call, text or via a mobile app.
  • Address process complexities with intelligent routing: Schedules, workgroup rules, team mobilization requirements and escalation paths should all be configured so that you are connected to the right care team member with real-time accuracy. A solution with dynamic intelligent routing is able to deliver messages at the right time, to the right person in any given clinical situation. Clinicians should be able to customize based on their device and delivery preferences, and make changes based on their activity (e.g., what to do with a call while in the OR).

The goal is simple: Remove the variability, the hand offs and the touch points that introduce risk and opportunities for communication breakdowns. Initiate the communication in the manner you wish, and let the process connect you to the correct covering provider for your clinical situation at any moment in time.

While efficient clinical communication is a challenge, the right solution can lead to tremendous benefits for every care team member, as well as the organization. The solution must be comprehensive, providing standardization and the ability to streamline the communications process. By implementing technology that addresses these three areas, healthcare organizations will not only be able to improve clinical communication, but will ultimately improve the experience for patients, and the extended care team.


Interested in learning more? Read part 1 and part 2 of this series on nurse leadership in care team collaboration.

Request a Demo

 

Building an effective care team collaboration strategy: 4 focal points

Part 2 of a 3-part series in conjunction with our nurse leadership webinar series.

The need to unify physicians, nurses and other care team members through effective communication at the point of care is growing in significance. According to a 2015 Gartner report, 80 percent of providers report deploying fragmented communication technologies, which results in degraded care team communication and collaboration.

Collaboration is both a process and an outcome. It affects the patient experience, outcomes and care occurring across a variety of settings in an increasingly complex and mobile environment.

To resolve the fragmented and non-secure communication encountered in healthcare, true care team collaboration is dependent on consolidating disparate technologies into a single solution capable of directly addressing the communication obstacles degrading patient care today.

To some, this may sound like an unachievable goal, but with a strategic plan focused in areas that facilitate workflow processes and communication leading to improved patient care, it is attainable.

You may wonder, where do I even begin? Many organizations, in response to specific challenges, have deployed single-point technologies that provide only incremental gains. True clinical communication and collaboration requires a comprehensive strategy, and to begin you must carefully evaluate your entire communication landscape. You’ll need to assess your current technologies, HIPAA compliance plan, near miss or sentinel event occurrences, nursing time to reach providers and consult notifications procedures – all of which will highlight your clinical communication strengths and weaknesses.

Developing a comprehensive care team collaboration strategy spans four major areas of consideration. Failure to address any one of these areas may leave you with an incomplete solution. Each organization is unique, certainly, but departments and organizations must work together to create an environment ripe for collaboration.

  • Clinical – Mobile technologies are becoming more prevalent in healthcare settings, thus the need to leverage these technologies to facilitate secure communication amongst the care team is becoming increasingly important. A clinical communications solution should enable communication-driven workflows to facilitate timely care team communication. The solution should facilitate direct conversations among nurses and physicians via the preferred mode of contact – be it a mobile phone, pager, email or office land line. By triaging incoming calls and applying personalized algorithms for call placement, care team members reach the correct physician without searching through call schedules.
  • Operational – Once your plan is in place, bringing it to life warrants consideration and considerable forethought. A well-defined adoption strategy will be key to a successful implementation. Clinical champions help drive decisions and engage end users. Leadership engagement is often the most essential driver of adoption of any initiative, plan or policy. You should also consider and plan around timelines, specific tasks and resource requirements.
  • Technical – To achieve success, understanding and addressing technical infrastructure is a must. The strength of your Wi-Fi and cellular networks should be evaluated. Does your organization have a device strategy or do you have a BYOD policy? Do you desire integration with clinical systems and is the solution you are considering interoperable?
  • Financial – In any financial consideration, ultimate ROI and total cost of ownership are needed to justify approaches. When you close communication gaps across the extended care team to facilitate patient care collaboration, you can potentially improve referral revenue, decrease readmissions and avoid penalty costs. The ability to do mobile charge capture at the bedside, and to quickly and fully document exam and procedure details at the point of care will result in revenue recognition and improved cash flow for physicians.

There is no short list of considerations when it comes to building an effective care team collaboration strategy. However, if you focus on these four areas, gain support of leadership and identify a solution that hits these marks, you will be well on your way to effectively addressing your communication and collaboration needs.


Interested in learning more? Read part 1 and part 3 of this series on nurse leadership in care team collaboration.

Book a Demo