The patient journey is not always a one-and-done. It can often include a few stopovers at different facilities – the emergency department, ICU, skilled nursing facilities, and others. This is especially true for older patients and those with chronic conditions requiring specialized care at an external facility.
For patients, a care center transfer is overwhelming enough, and no organization wants to add to this discomfort. For staff, the coordination process of patient transfers and the communication surrounding them, however, comes with its own unique set of challenges.
From finding an appropriate facility with an open bed to coordinating discussions between care teams, better communication helps during patient transfers. Sadly, this process is usually reduced to a flurry of phone calls and voice messages that wear down dispatchers and delay the transfer — testing the patient’s, well, patience.
Between managing call-back processes, updating the patient and family, sharing essential documentation, medications, test results, and coordinating transportation, numerous bottlenecks arise that are compounded by archaic communication like paging systems and whiteboards.
Simple as it sounds, just being able to share information about a transfer between departments or facilities is a step in the right direction; added bonus if care teams can easily collaborate on any special needs the patient may have.
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First and foremost, by prioritizing some helpful, fundamental actions, an organization may have a better chance of hitting those efficiency marks that will bring success during patient transfers. Developing a shared vision for improvement can spur the needed investments in resources for better transfer center communication and collaboration.
Enhancing transparency, collaboration, EHR integration, and alerts through on-call scheduling and role-based communication across the enterprise also helps to build a smarter foundation.
Now, let’s get down to business. Over the years, we’ve analyzed hundreds of transfer center operations and distilled those findings into these 6 proven tactics. With these, practically any healthcare organization can see significant results by using video, voice, and text. Along with some great purpose-built features like message escalations and video, a single care collaboration platform can streamline the way transport teams and dispatchers connect and coordinate efforts to better manage incoming transfer requests, respond to code situations, and check-in at patient locations.
Here are six proven ways to overcome these chronic challenges:
How Care Collaboration Technology Solves These Challenges
|Inaccurate contact information and/or the on-call schedule is difficult to locate||Care collaboration platforms with integrated on-call calendars and automated role-based messaging eliminate the need to know a specific staff member’s name and phone number and allow for instant outreach via secure text, voice, or video.|
|Everyone involved needs to have the same information, resulting in multiple phone calls||Multiple hospital and transfer center staff can converse via secure text to ensure everyone has the same information in a timely, efficient way.|
|The admitting physician is unavailable for the call, resulting in a transfer delay||Texting is less interruptive to workflows and can be managed more quickly than phone calls. Replacing calls with asynchronous, secure texting yields faster turnaround times. Automated text escalations can also be utilized to ensure a timely response for critical transfers.|
|Inability to access requisite clinical information such as X-ray, EKG, and imaging. Faxes lose clarity, EHRs may not be integrated with PACS, etc.||Physicians and staff can easily and securely text an image of test results, X-rays, wounds, or video assessments. These images can be uploaded to the receiving hospital’s patient record when the medical record is created.|
|Upon acceptance of patients by the physician, there is no easy way to find which rooms are available and on what floor, resulting in more phone tag and transfer delays.||Role-based texting to groups or teams produces faster responses than phone calls for room availability. Replacing the call with a text is a more efficient way to communicate bed assignments.|
|The escalation process is challenging due to the nature of phone communication, inability to see when voicemails or pagers are acknowledged, and unproductive ‘he said/she said’ debates.||Replacing phone calls with texting creates a timed audit log of interactions to support ongoing improvement initiatives. Sent/read status labels show when messages are received and read. Message archiving can further resolve accountability issues. Automated escalations can also be used to trigger timed-text alerts among a preset list of contacts for unacknowledged messages.|
Transfer center inefficiencies can secretly drain not only hospital resources but staff morale and patient satisfaction. Investing in a modern, mobile-centric collaboration platform can eradicate much of this burden while significantly increasing the volume of patient transfers.
TigerConnect modernizes collaboration and care coordination within transfer centers to optimize processes, reduce staff burden, and achieve measurable results. By offering a single collaboration platform, patient transfers happen on time and without error, leading to happier patients and more efficient staff.