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Outdated systems, silos, and disconnected communication among nurses and physicians cause added strain to an already in-demand nursing workforce.2 Nurses can work 9-5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

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