Emergency departments (EDs) are universally acknowledged as high-stress environments. Having to hurdle communication barriers in time-sensitive scenarios can spell disaster for ED staff and patients alike, compromising patient care, staff morale, and overall department efficiency. A Journal of Patient Experience study found that ED wait times and a lack of communication are the biggest contributors to poor patient satisfaction. In addition, a lack of real-time emergency department communication among healthcare professionals and a lack of integration with existing systems can affect an ED in several ways. 

How poor communication impacts ED patients

  • Medical errors and adverse events: In a fast-paced and high-stress environment like the ED, clear and concise communication is essential for accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment decisions, and proper care coordination.  
  • Delays in patient care: Poor communication among staff members can delay relaying important information about a patient’s condition, test results, or treatment plans. Delays in care also significantly increase the risk of complications and adverse outcomes, depending on the situation.  
  • Care team attrition and burnout: When information is not clearly communicated, it can result in duplication of efforts, redundant tests, or procedures, leading to confusion, frustration, and increased stress levels among the staff and their patients. Staff members may feel unsupported and undervalued, struggling to perform their duties efficiently. This can lead to decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover rates. 
  • Lack of continuity of care: From the ED, patients often transition between different healthcare professionals, departments, or even healthcare facilities. Without an efficient means of communication between different care teams, coordination failures are liable to happen. This can result in fragmented communication regarding the patient’s condition, changes in treatment plans, or ongoing concerns. Ultimately, patient care suffers and can result in decreased throughput. 
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Accelerate ED Patient Throughput with Streamlined Workflows

If these issues aren’t severe enough, sometimes, the effects can be irreversible. According to The Joint Commission, communication continues to be a leading factor in sentinel events. Considering this, it’s clear that effective communication in an ED is critical to improving clinician interactions and patient care. So, how can hospitals establish effective communication methods internally? First, implement a robust clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) platform. Here are five ways leveraging a CC&C platform can help revolutionize ED communication. 

5 ways a CC&C Platform benefit ED communication

1. Enhance information sharing 

A standard CC&C platform empowers healthcare professionals to securely text message care team members, share files, and collaborate on patient care. This creates a more collaborative experience, accelerates clinical workflows, and boosts the efficiency of care delivery. Additionally, HIPAA-compliant secure messaging ensures healthcare professionals can safely share patient information such as images, lab results, and x-ray findings, all from a mobile device.  

2. Improve handoff communication 

Waiting for ED consults can create significant delays, jeopardizing patient outcomes. Fortunately, CC&C platforms are revolutionizing handoff communication to address this challenge. By integrating physician scheduling to create specific roles, CC&C platforms enable care teams to reach on-call specialists based on their role, rather than relying solely on individual names. Role-based messaging eliminates the need to search for paper call schedules or leave messages with operators, saving critical time. When a consult is required, the correct physician is promptly notified, and comprehensive patient details are directly sent to their smartphone. This instant and direct communication ensures that specialists receive the necessary information to provide timely and appropriate care.   

3. Create dedicated roles or team group messages 

TigerConnect Teams allows a group of roles or people to receive notifications and alarms simultaneously. This ensures that the right people are getting the correct information at the right time, allowing the necessary ED team members to be activated together, prompting a quicker response by the team.  

4. Implement urgent messaging and priority alerts 

Secure messaging can be accessed via mobile devices throughout the ED, ensuring that healthcare providers can receive and respond to priority alerts and messages from anywhere within the hospital. This mobility enhances the response time and allows for immediate action. In addition, a robust platform like TigerConnect can integrate with existing hospital systems, such as electronic health records and nurse call systems, allowing automatic notifications and alerts to be sent to the appropriate team members. 

5. Enable intelligent message routing 

Role-based messaging allows the care team to find the provider assigned for that patient quickly or to find the best physician on call so patient care isn’t delayed, which can be fatal in an ED situation. In addition, having HIPAA-compliant, two-way closed-loop communication between physicians on their cell phones and integration with the ED’s physician scheduling tool ensures that the right doctors are notified immediately.  

With CC&C platforms, the dangerous black hole of waiting for consults in the ED is mitigated. The technology optimizes communication workflows, reduces delays, and empowers healthcare teams to deliver effective care. By bridging communication gaps and enabling rapid information exchange, these platforms enhance patient safety, improve efficiency, and promote collaboration among healthcare providers in the fast-paced and high-stakes environment of the emergency department. 

TigerConnect helps streamline and automate these tactics to help reduce barriers in communication at every level – within ED staff, between ED staff and other departments, and with patients. Real-time communication by roles and teams in a centralized hub pulls information from integrated clinical systems and helps improve ED communication. These capabilities have significant lasting effects on all involved. For example, after implementing automated code blue notifications with TigerConnect, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) saved 78 seconds from when the code button was pressed to the time of team notification, increasing the chance of survival to discharge from 17% to 25%. 

Hospitals looking to improve their ED communication must consider implementing tools like a CC&C platform to connect staff better, streamline workflows, and improve patient care. To learn more about improving your hospital’s communication and workflows, check out the eBook: Better Emergency Care, Faster: Clinical Workflows for Accelerating Patient Throughput. 

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