The pace of change in healthcare moves slowly, and this is completely understandable. When patients’ lives and overall well-being rests in your hands, it’s an enormous responsibility and generally safer to rely on proven methods of care. Unfortunately, that mentality sometimes extends to areas that could really help, like modern-day communication technology, causing the pace of change to move a bit too slow, creating patient safety issues and at times leading to a lower quality of care and patient experience.
In many cases, people are not to blame. Instead, bad policies, poorly-implemented systems, fragmented technology, and an overburdened staff are the main obstacles that prevent effective interactions.
Piled on top of these communication challenges is an ever-increasing need for fast, accurate, centralized, efficient collaboration. This gross misalignment between intent and implementation results in poorer patient outcomes, greater staff frustration, lower patient satisfaction ratings, and more medical errors.
This is borne out by the data — according to a study in “Archives of Internal Medicine,” there are significant breakdowns in communication between providers:
Provider to patient communications suffered as well, and with communications issues being the root cause of many medical errors, these are issues that healthcare providers must deal with.
Let’s dig into the causes of healthcare communications breakdown.
Hospital policies, workplace culture, and broken systems make effective team collaboration and communication difficult. Research shows that around 30% of malpractice cases are caused by breakdowns in team communications. This breakdown is often a combination of workload pressures, issues with EHRs, long shifts, lack of access to information, distractions, and poorly-implemented communications technology.
Healthcare organizations are often in fierce competition, so they lack incentives to make sharing information fast, easy, and patient-centered. Different providers may use widely-divergent technologies, processes, and systems, making the transferal of medical data even more problematic. This fragmented approach means it is very difficult to have “one view of the truth” — a centralized, high-quality, accurate, and timely medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan.
Electronic health record (EHR) systems are the backbone of good healthcare provision and patient outcomes. Unfortunately, there is little interaction, commonality, or agreed standards between EHR systems and the vendors who make them. Integration between EHR systems is notoriously difficult — combine this with the competitive nature of hospitals, and it’s easy to see why healthcare providers often do not have all the latest information for a particular patient or case.
Due to the urgent, important nature of medical services, alarms and alerts are a fact of life for all clinicians. Unfortunately, the prevalence of notifications, cases, and actions marked as “urgent” creates a very poor signal-to-noise ratio. Of the dozens of notifications they get a day, how can physicians, nurses, and others know which ones are true emergencies? This is often compounded by slow and inefficient healthcare processes.
When it comes to healthcare communications, there is no silver bullet. But, there are things you can do that will enhance healthcare communications across your organization.
CC&C technology like TigerConnect can truly change the way healthcare is delivered. All of our products — TigerText Essentials, TigerFlow, and TigerFlow Enterprise are designed to revolutionize your healthcare communications. Far more than “just texting” they put essential patient information into the palm of your clinicians’ hands. With full integration across all your healthcare technologies and systems, physicians and nurses will have access to the information and communications they need to radically improve patient outcomes.