The healthcare industry has made many advances over the last few decades, yet one area where innovation is severely lacking is organization-wide communications. One of the most crucial, foundational aspects of the industry that almost single-handedly allows care to happen in the first place happens to be one of the major roadblocks for doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and staff.
But there is hope for a better, healthier future. As our CEO, Brad Brooks puts it, “While the industry faces serious challenges when it comes to communication — both among care teams and between patients and providers — the good news is that technology exists to address them in a meaningful way that can contribute to improved patient experiences and optimal healthcare outcomes.”
To get a better idea of the true state of healthcare communications, we conducted a healthcare communications survey in August 2019 and nearly 200 healthcare leaders responded. A second survey was conducted from August 26-28, 2019 in partnership with The Harris Poll to better understand patient preferences and expectations around communication. The State of Healthcare Communications 2019-2020 report provides findings from both surveys, detailing out what is broken in healthcare communication today and the downstream impact on healthcare operations and patients. The survey report also offers recommendations, as we believe the right communication infrastructure is at the heart of delivering high-quality care.
The survey not only confirmed the broken state of healthcare communication but also clearly identified three major downstream impacts on the healthcare organization and its patients. Here is an overview of the findings:
The healthcare industry is still heavily reliant on 1970’s technology, with 89% using fax machines and 39% using pagers among some departments or roles, or even organization-wide. And to further compound the problem, the survey also confirmed that, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and staff involved in care outside the hospital too often use different tools to communicate.
As a result of ineffective and fragmented communication channels, care coordination is difficult or very difficult for a large portion of healthcare organizations. According to the survey, 39% of healthcare professionals say it is difficult or very difficult to communicate with one or more groups of care team members.
The impact of fragmented communication channels became even more apparent when comparing organizations that use secure messaging across the enterprise with those that use secure messaging only among some roles or departments. In fact, the survey found a 50% greater likelihood of daily communication disconnects (21% vs. 14%) when secure messaging is not used organization-wide.
In general, non-clinical staff members underestimate communication difficulties and the impact on patients. In fact, non-clinical staff members are 68% less likely to say communication disconnects impact patients on a daily basis (7% vs. 22%).
In addition, non-clinical staff members also underestimate the impact communication disconnects have on throughput. Clinical respondents selected 3.2 out of five possible bottlenecks, while non-clinical respondents limited their concerns to 2.4 out of five on average.
A separate consumer survey found nearly three-quarters of patients were frustrated by a recent hospital stay. The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TigerConnect in August, found that 74% of U.S. adults who spent time in a hospital in the past two years because they or an immediate family member were admitted for at least one night, indicated being frustrated by one or more inefficient processes listed.
The survey also found that patients’ preferred communication method does not match what is actually being used. The most over-utilized patient communication solution, according to the report, was the patient portal, while the most underutilized solution was telehealth communication via text/SMS.
The TigerConnect State of Healthcare Communications 2019 report offers detailed recommendations to address these issues and modernize healthcare communications. To view our “State of Healthcare Communications” report in its entirety click here.
The State of Healthcare Communications Report
To better understand healthcare organizations’ opinions on the state of healthcare communications, TigerConnect conducted an online survey from July 15-31, 2019 with nearly 200 respondents who work in the healthcare industry. Healthcare employees were surveyed from a wide range of roles including 28% clinical workers (nurses/doctors/ ancillary providers), 22% C-level participants, 19% IT professionals, 18% administrative staff, 11% operations, and 2% other.
In addition, to better understand patient preferences and expectations around communication, a survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TigerConnect from August 26-28, 2019 among 2,014 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of whom 870 have spent time in a hospital in the past two years because they or an immediate family member had been admitted and stayed at least one night. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Alyssa Trenkamp at firstname.lastname@example.org.