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

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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Outdated systems, silos, and disconnected communication among nurses and physicians cause added strain to an already in-demand nursing workforce.2 Nurses can work 9-5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.

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

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 Important Role Nurses Play in Care Transition and Reducing Readmissions

Hospital readmissions cost around $26 billion annually.1 Nurses are at the frontline of transitioning patients who need follow-up attention and treatment. If hospital leadership can help improve nurses’ lives and processes, it might make a dent in reducing hospital readmission rates.

In its simplest form, “care transition” is defined as a hospital discharge or movement from one care setting to another. The risk that readmissions pose to patient safety requires transitional care processes which are under constant evaluation for the patient experience. 

Nurses must navigate clinical communication and coordination of patient care, and they are best equipped to coordinate a successful transition. The bedside nurse, for example, may understand more about the patient’s needs as they travel through the care continuum than other care team members. And when those needs are communicated effectively, the nurse is given the opportunity to extend high-value care to the patient.

Nurses create transitional care plans by compiling all the pertinent patient information in the EHR and creating instructions to be followed. Then they collaborate and share the plan in detail with all members of the new care team. This ensures the handoff is seamless for both the patient and the new unit or facility.

The most important factor in transition care is communication during and after this handoff process.

What to Communicate and When

The goal of the handoff is to safely transfer the patient from one care setting to another by exchanging the necessary information with, and by effectively transferring the responsibility of care to, either a new care team or the patient’s family. With their relatives involved, it’s important to keep their family informed and updated along the patient journey.

It’s a lot to put on any nurse’s plate, but by standardizing and implementing an effective and comprehensive transition communication process, nurses can elevate patient safety, avoid adverse events that lead to costly readmissions, and decrease patient anxiety during the transfer process.

It’s important to remember that the transfer process doesn’t apply only to moving a patient from an acute setting to the home or a post-acute environment. There are many different handoff scenarios within the same organization, unit, and floor that need your close attention.

For example, nurses should be prepared to provide handoff communication:

  • At shift change
  • During a break
  • When patients are transferred within the hospital (e.g., from the ER to ICU, from radiology to the OR, etc.)

It’s extremely important for the purposes of continuity of care that the communication between the nurse and the new team of clinicians or family prepares them for the next steps. Then they’re able to anticipate the patient’s needs and make timely decisions.

At a high level, to adequately prepare the new care team, the following should be included in the handoff communication:

  • Patient care instructions
  • Treatment description
  • Medication history
  • Services received
  • Any recent or anticipated changes

More specifically, and in the case of transfers to a new care team or facility, an effective care transition communication plan will include:

  • Patient’s name and age
  • Reason for admission
  • Pertinent co-morbidities
  • Code status
  • Current isolation or precautions
  • Elopement risk
  • Lab results—including any pending and/or abnormal findings
  • Relevant diagnostic studies
  • Fall risk assessment
  • Any assessment findings that are appropriate to the patient’s current health

The receiving team of nurses frequently cares for patients who lack pertinent health data.

For example, EKG results are often left out of the transition communication between hospitals and subacute rehabilitation facilities. In this case, if a patient has an episode of chest pain, the receiving team could conduct an EKG on their own, but without prior results to compare with, they can’t successfully rule out something dangerous, such as angina. So, they may err on the side of patient safety and send the patient back to the hospital, resulting in a readmission. However, if an EKG result is included in the transition communication, the receiving team can conduct an EKG on their own, compare the results with the EKG performed at the hospital, and determine whether there is an emergent need for readmission or the issue is something they can safely handle in their own setting.

Pay Extra Close Attention to Medication Communications

While including all pertinent test results in the handoff communication is extremely important, there’s another area that needs special attention, because it causes more admissions than any other factor: medication.

It’s estimated that 30% of hospitalized patients have at least one discrepancy on discharge medication reconciliation. Communicating medication details is an area that poses the greatest risk for error as well as the greatest opportunity to effect a positive outcome. In fact, over 66% of emergency readmissions for patients over 65 years old are due to adverse medication events.

Breaches in handoff, such as failure to include specific details of the patient’s medication history and future dosage needs, have dire consequences. Defective handoffs are known to cause problems beyond adverse events. Issues such as delays in care, inappropriate treatment, and increased length of stay arise when transition communication is not strategically planned and delivered.

There are many root causes of a defective handoff, but since nurses play the most important role in the transition communication process, you must strategically develop and communicate the transitional care plan—not only by considering what information you believe should be communicated, but by extending a dialogue to the receiving team and understanding what information they feel is necessary to provide the best follow-up care possible.

Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital was able to cut readmission costs by 32% with provider-to-patient texting, improving their follow-up care.

Ready to improve your patient communication before, during, and after a surgery or treatment? Connect with one of our solution specialists for more details.

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  1. The Economic & Emotional Cost of Hospital Readmissions. (2021, April 1). HealthStream. https://www.healthstream.com/resource/blog/the-economic-emotional-cost-of-hospital-readmissions

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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