Beyond EHR Chat: The Case for a Dedicated Communication Solution

Beyond EHR Chat: The Case for a Dedicated Communication Solution

Tired of clunky chat interfaces? A CC&C can help

Healthcare leaders understand the critical role that Electronic Health Records (EHRs) play in managing patient information and improving care delivery. EHRs offer a multitude of functions and benefits, such as order entries, preventing duplicate testing, and alerting providers to potential medication allergies and drug interactions. However, when it comes to clinical communication, relying on EHR chat may not be the best solution.  

Many EHRs have integrated chat features into their systems, allowing healthcare providers to communicate securely. While this is convenient, many organizations find that these features fall short. Because communication takes place in various disconnected systems inside and outside the hospital, breakdowns in communication occur when you rely on the EHR for communication.  

Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions replicate the familiar user experience of using your smartphone for personal messaging but optimize it for care delivery. CC&C solutions are as easy to use as personal texting, but integrations with scheduling, alarms, and 3rd party systems make it extremely powerful when it comes to clinical workflows. Let’s explore why a dedicated CC&C solution offers a more flexible, intuitive, and efficient user experience for clinicians. 

 
Care teams are only as fast as their communication tools allow them to be. To speed care delivery in an emergency, you need tools that go beyond clunky chat interfaces, disjointed phone calls, and overhead alerts.
Why EHR Communication Falls Short in Urgent Situations
 

Frustrating User Experience / Ease of Use 

EHR chat is not advised for urgent communication, so anytime you need a quick response, you’re likely to turn to outdated, frustrating communication methods like pagers and phone calls to get your answer.  

Imagine you need to get a hold of the charge nurse, but you don’t know who’s on duty. Since the EHR can’t tell you who the charge nurse is, you have to call the unit clerk and ask who’s on-call, get their phone number, and then call the charge nurse. This whole process is not only time-consuming, but can lead to games of phone tag and slow down patient care.  

TigerConnect makes it easy to find and contact clinicians by Role, even when you don’t know who’s on-call or what their name is. Simply search for the “Charge Nurse” and message them in seconds.   

Recognizing that communication is a fundamental aspect of healthcare, it’s important to have a separate, specialized app to reduce complexity, minimize risk, and decrease frustration. By maintaining a clear distinction between communication and EHR workflows with TigerConnect, healthcare providers can not only save time but also experience fewer disruptions. This separation of functions ensures that messages are promptly acknowledged and responded to and allows care teams to communicate while simultaneously accessing or updating patient charts in the EMR. 

Difficulty Communicating Outside the Hospital 

EHR chat apps often restrict communication to people within their own instances, which makes it difficult to reach individuals outside the walls of the hospital. This can be a significant issue when trying to communicate with affiliated physicians not on the EHR, referring physicians, EMS providers, and more.  

TigerConnect resolves this issue by allowing you to configure your network to include providers outside of your organization, such as affiliated physicians, referring organizations, or EMS providers. This ensures proper care coordination, timely transfers, and, ultimately, the best possible patient outcomes. 

Not only that, but Role, Team, and on-call scheduling features make it easy to include the necessary team members in critical workflows and determine who to contact for specific issues. Roles (like “cardiologist on-call”) auto-populate according to provider’s schedules, making it easy for you to find and contact the right on-call or on-duty provider by simply searching for their assigned role. TigerConnect Teams allow you to activate code or rapid response teams with a single click, instantly alerting a pre-defined group of individuals or roles for a specific workflow. 

Total Cost of Ownership 

EHR Chat is initially appealing since it’s often included for free with your EHR, however, since EHR Chat is missing some core features like voice and video, physician scheduling, and middleware, healthcare IT leaders can expect to contract additional vendors to fill the gaps. 

The TigerConnect Clinical Collaboration Platform provides a 100% cloud-based, self-serviceable, and all-in-one communication platform that can help you consolidate vendors and reduce costs while providing your staff with all the necessary tools to coordinate efficient and high-quality care. 

Out of the box, TigerConnect is a fully unified communication and workflow platform with all of the tools necessary to drive more efficient workflows and improve care delivery: role and team-based workflows, voice and video calling, physician scheduling, and alarm management

Flexibility to Power Your Clinical Workflows 

Your communication tools should power your clinical workflows, not hold them back. Since EHR chat is inherently limited in its capabilities and requires you to contract additional vendors to fill the gaps, it creates information silos that create friction in care delivery.  

A CC&C breaks down information silos with contextual notifications. Route consult requests, nurse call alerts, and other contextual notifications to the right care team member the moment they become available. And unlike EHR messages, which run the risk of being left unread, you can have peace of mind that patient needs are addressed quickly by automatically escalating unanswered messages to another clinician. 

Conclusion 

In today’s healthcare landscape, seamless, efficient, and reliable clinical communication is vital for patient care. EHR chat apps, while a convenient part of EHR systems, create friction in care delivery because they don’t offer the flexibility necessary to enhance clinical workflows. 

A CC&C solution offers a flexible, intuitive, and all-round better user experience for clinicians. By choosing TigerConnect, healthcare leaders can empower their teams with a tool that streamlines communication, fosters care coordination, and ultimately leads to improved patient outcomes. 

Tim Beglin has been involved with nursing informatics for over 14 years, dedicated to improve clinical workflows for nurses, providers, and other healthcare professionals. He has been an Epic builder, Epic clinical site lead, IT Relationship Manager and has led a team of other nursing informaticists. Tim has abundant experience navigating the complexities of clinical organizations and healthcare technology in order to achieve sustainable process improvement.

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