In healthcare, timely communication is essential for patients to receive necessary—sometimes lifesaving—care. However, patients often engage with multiple professionals who can work across various departments, geographies, or organizations. Naturally, it is easy for delays in communication or even miscommunication to occur. Unfortunately, that can stand in the way of effective information flow and impact patient care.

The innately distributed nature of healthcare makes communication disconnects all too common, which can cause preventable problems can follow.

Just how big is the issue? The TigerConnect study, The State of Healthcare Communications, found that 53% of healthcare professionals say they experience disconnects at least weekly. Another 18% report communications disconnects monthly. A mere 5% of respondents said their organization never experiences communications disconnects.

Every disconnect isn’t an isolated incident. Instead, each communication misstep can cascade, impacting everything from day-to-day operations to patient safety.

state of clinical communications and workflows report

The State of Healthcare Communications Report

TigerConnect We surveyed 105 medical and nursing leaders about clinical communication and clinical workflows at their organizations. Read the report to learn more!

Communication missteps diminish operational efficiency

Poor communication can lead to slowdowns in everyday tasks, like transferring equipment, managing patient room changes, or coordinating surgeries and tests. Any delay can be a roadblock to efficiency and cause unwanted consequences–from higher costs to diminished patient satisfaction and medical errors.

During more complicated processes which involve multiple team members, such as patient discharge, communication missteps can have a far-reaching effect on hospital operations. Transfers from the emergency department (ED) or intensive care unit (ICU) may not happen on schedule, leaving patients waiting for access to critical care.

The research shows that nearly one-third (32%) of healthcare professionals cited discharge delays as a significant bottleneck in their organization, indicating that the problem is widespread.

Poor coordination can lead to a longer length of stay (LOS), discharge delays, and non-medical postponements for patients. A study of 38,500 hospital admissions linked a slower discharge process to longer ED length of stay (LOS), which averaged 6.9 hours per patient. In that study, when the hospital took steps to shorten its discharge process and release more patients before noon, the ED LOS dropped a full hour to 5.9 hours.

Poor communication is linked to patient safety risks

When miscommunications occur, the risks to patients’ health and safety increase. As the HIPAA Journal notes, poor communications can lead to “misdiagnoses and other medical mistakes that can easily lead to avoidable health complications and the death of patients.” 

This isn’t an occasional or sporadic occurrence, unfortunately. According to a retroactive review of medical malpractice claims published in the Journal of Patient Safety in 2022:

  • Nearly half of all claims (49%) included a communication failure
  • Fifty-three percent (53%) of communication failures involved miscommunications between patients and providers. 
  • Forty-seven percent (47%) involved an issue with handoffs, but using a tool to support handoffs could have averted 77% of those issues. 
  • The average cost for claims featuring a communication failure was $237,000.

Often, these failures involve miscommunication about symptoms or conditions patients may be experiencing, which can lead to poor decisions or delayed treatment.

Technology Is the Key to Improved Healthcare Communications

Fortunately, advanced technologies can enhance collaboration in healthcare. Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions enable streamlined communication by integrating systems such as nurse call, laboratory information systems, smart beds, and patient monitoring solutions. A CC&C platform empowers care team members to send secure, context-rich messages in real time to improve care delivery.

Instead of outdated approaches, like faxing and paging, CC&C solutions let care team members reach one another on the mobile devices they carry everywhere or through desktop workstations. With a CC&C solution, team members gain access to a single, HIPPA-compliant platform that becomes the central hub for all communications, internally and with stakeholders outside the organization.

One of the most powerful features of CC&C solutions is role-based messaging. How does it work? Imagine a nurse needs to connect with the on-duty anesthesiologist. Instead of looking through a list or consulting a schedule, the nurse can simply select “anesthesiologist” and send a message directly to the correct clinician. The result is significantly less time, effort, and stress to engage the right clinician at the right moment.

For nurses with myriad responsibilities every shift, a CC&C solution relieves administrative burdens and allows more time to engage with patients. Plus, nurse teams can collaborate more effectively, leading to better care coordination, higher patient satisfaction, and enhanced patient outcomes. 

Our research found that 71% of healthcare professionals believe it’s easier to communicate with nurses when secure messaging is available organization-wide. A CC&C platform can make secure messaging a reality for any healthcare system.

Keeping up with current research is a necessity for every healthcare professional. The State of Healthcare Communications study provides insight from more than 750 clinical and administrative professionals. Learn the most pressing communications challenges and how the right technology can help you overcome them.

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