Ending Collaboration Waste to Save the Healthcare System

Ending Collaboration Waste to Save the Healthcare System

Hospitals are hives of activity. But, unlike the highly structured order of a beehive, hospitals are not always models of efficiency. From waiting for callbacks or being interrupted by non-actionable alerts, collaboration inefficiencies are hiding in plain sight in most hospitals. That’s a problem for patients, for the dedicated people working in healthcare, and for the institutions themselves. In fact, healthcare inefficiency impacts more than just the patients. It contributes to the soaring costs of care throughout the system, costs that can easily drain savings and lead to financial hardships for families. That sense of sticker shock causes many to avoid seeking care until they are gravely ill or in pain – resulting in worsened health outcomes. These skyrocketing costs also contribute to the overall rise in healthcare spending, which in turn causes higher insurance premiums and taxes for everyone. 

 

Discover the 7 Types of Collaboration Waste

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Poor collaboration leads to overall slowness throughout the care journey, which leads to poor quality, poor experience and more expensive care. Why is effective collaboration so difficult? In healthcare, the problem is systemic. Not only are there so many moving parts that aren’t coordinated, but those parts also tend to be separated by barriers of various sorts. Different people serve various roles: therapists, nurses, doctors, techs, support staff. They work for different departments that have their own operational prerogatives, frustrations and inefficiencies. It’s difficult to reach across all those departments and roles, so it can be challenging to navigate from one end of a clinical workflow to the other.  

It’s difficult for administrators to think about solving all the glitches, delays and inefficiencies across the care system in part because they all look like individualized events. Nurses struggle with finding the right on-call provider. Phone tag happens constantly. No one knows when labs are ready. Which system do I use to talk to that department? Is this alert a priority or a distraction? All these problems might look distinct, but we believe they are all part of the same operational issue. 

At TigerConnect, we’ve been talking to people and departments for more than ten years. And we’ve developed a single way to think about all these collaboration challenges that unify the problem across the hospital and even the healthcare system. We call it Collaboration Waste.  

Collaboration Waste is activities related to how healthcare team members interact with each other and with their hospital systems in a way that erodes value for patients, clinicians, and the hospital. It leads to poorer care and higher costs and has a multimillion-dollar negative impact on every hospital in the US annually. The Cambridge Dictionary defines waste as: “an unnecessary or wrong use of money, substances, time, energy, abilities.” That’s a pretty apt description of what’s going on when people try to collaborate – but can’t. Time, energy, abilities and – yes – money are being wasted when these obstacles halt patient flow through the system. Once understood as a whole, Collaboration Waste can be seen rippling up and down any clinical workflow. It slows care delivery, reduces the amount of critical information available for decision-making and, yes, raises costs for every American at a system-wide level. 

Clinical leadership and administrators can be overwhelmed trying to address what they see as hundreds of little glitches and problems suffered by various people spread through the hospital. Collaboration Waste is one lens to view it all as a single problem which everyone can support solving. 

We’ve pinpointed seven types of Collaboration Waste hiding in plain sight in workflows and hindering healthcare delivery. Here is a quick overview, and in the coming weeks we will break down each of these categories further in a blog series: 

  • Searching: Clinicians often waste valuable time searching for the right contact due to outdated or inaccurate schedules, leading to frustration and delays. 
  • Mis-contacting: Contacting the wrong individual, often due to outdated schedules, not only wastes time but also disrupts the workflow of both parties involved. 
  • Waiting: A lack of steady information flow means care teams are left waiting for essential responses or test results, interrupting the continuity of care. 
  • Switching: Constantly toggling between different platforms and applications slows down workflows and reduces efficiency. 
  • Interrupting: Frequent non-actionable alerts and pages, especially from outdated systems, significantly disrupt focus and increase cognitive load. 
  • Filtering: Clinicians face the challenge of navigating through disorganized information systems to find what they need, leading to inefficiency and frustration. 
  • Deciding: In the absence of timely and accurate information, care teams are often forced to make decisions under uncertainty, which can compromise patient care. 

These are not distinct types of problems, but one core obstacle manifested in different ways. TigerConnect is dedicated to helping the healthcare industry reduce or eliminate Collaboration Waste. By doing so, we can help clinicians get more done during the day, reducing costs, improving throughput, serving more patients, and gaining more revenue for the hospital.  

It’s a critical time to address Collaboration Waste. Hospitals are in financial distress, people are leaving healthcare professions due to burnout, and patient needs are rising as the population grows. At the same time, care is being distributed to new places, not just inside the hospital. Because of that, even more people will be involved outside the four walls of the hospital. Theoretically, that will be better for patients and lower costs – but not if we simply magnify the scale of Collaboration Waste. 

Let’s eliminate Collaboration Waste together. Schedule a demo today to learn how TigerConnect can address these issues and improve productivity at your healthcare organization. 

Will O’Connor, M.D. is the Chief Medical Information Officer at TigerConnect. As a physician executive with more than 20 years of healthcare experience, Will is a passionate advocate for rapid advancement across the healthcare industry.

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