What we learned at the CHiME21 Fall Forum

Look under the hood of many health systems, and you’ll discover a perplexing dichotomy: state-of-the-art medical equipment, highly trained and dedicated staff, and advanced EHR systems tethered to inefficient clinical communication and collaboration tools and business processes.

TigerConnect recently attended the CHiME21 Fall Forum in San Diego, California, which brought together healthcare leaders from across the country to network, exchange ideas, and discuss the future of healthcare information management. TigerConnect hosted a focus group for CIOs during the event to understand the current state of clinical communication and collaboration and how CC&C platforms can help their organizations be successful.

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EHR and siloed systems are not meeting clinicians’ needs

According to the 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report, 42% of physicians reported feeling burned out in 2020. “Too many bureaucratic tasks” was the leading reported contributing factor.

Current State: Fragmentation in clinical communication was a consistent pain point among focus group participants. The overall consensus from the focus group was that the current communication structure is not working well.

  • Hospital networks are using a variety of disparate and costly solutions to support clinical collaboration. Embedded messaging within the EHR may be used for patient care communications, another system may be used for clinician-to-clinician messaging, another for communicating clinician-to-patient, and yet another for communicating with outside vendors. 
  • Most systems do not talk to each other, and multiple steps are needed to communicate through the EHR, which is not designed for care team collaboration
  • These communication silos create inefficiency for physicians and care team members and make it difficult for the organization to look at communications surrounding patient care holistically. 

What’s Needed: Clinical communication and collaboration platforms provide an opportunity to meet many communication needs through a single solution, with robust analytics for tracking ROI. However, health systems face roadblocks in their attempt to consolidate if they have not adequately modernized their supporting infrastructure to support widespread adoption. Many health systems lack strong Wi-Fi networks and adequate smartphones to replace pagers. Initial user adoption can also be a challenge if clinicians have become comfortable with current – albeit cumbersome – systems. 

Future State: What do CIOs want to see in the future of clinical collaboration? The focus group was unanimous in their desire for a collaboration platform that can sync up the entire care continuum -inside the hospital walls and beyond –  to provide secure communications and patient data sharing to support consistency in care.

Compliance remains a top concern in healthcare

In a recent study by the Journal of Hospital Medicine, 21.5% of hospital-based clinicians said they’d received standard unsecured text messages that include individually-identifiable patient information.

Current State: We asked focus group participants to rank what they perceived as the most important components of clinical communication – secure, HIPAA-compliant encrypted messaging rose to the top, followed by provider scheduling, VOIP capabilities, and role-based messaging. This is no surprise, as secure text messaging is often one of the first solutions TigerConnect customers seek as they begin to modernize their clinical communications strategy. Unfortunately for many in the focus group and industry-wide, non-compliant texting is commonplace even though the security risks and potential for hefty fines (up to $250,000 for a single violation) are well-known. 

What’s Needed: The key to overcoming this issue is offering a secure collaboration platform that provides the efficiency and convenience of texting while keeping patient data private and encrypted. 

Future State: As far as the future of clinical collaboration, focus group participants want to leverage artificial intelligence and language processing to initiate messaging without touching their devices.

Contextual awareness is key for widespread clinical communication and collaboration platform adoption 

According to a recent report by Global Industry Analysts, the global clinical communication and collaboration market will grow from $1.5 Billion in 2020 to 3.3 billion by 2026. 

Current State: While the industry recognizes the inherent opportunities clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) platforms provide for increased efficiency and improved care coordination and outcomes, many healthcare organizations are still in the early stages of adoption.

When asked if their organizations were considering consolidating to a single collaboration platform: 

  • 67% of focus group participants reported that their organizations were already executing a strategy
  • 33% had discussed the issue but had not made a decision
  • 34% had not yet considered it. 

Only one organization represented in the focus group was currently using a clinical communication and collaboration platform. Cost and budget concerns and a true understanding of value were the primary roadblocks preventing adoption. 

What’s Needed: Participants felt adoption would rapidly increase if CC&C platforms supported collaborative communications and provided clinicians with contextual awareness to empower decision-making and improve patient care. 

For example, it is not enough to get a text alert that a patient’s potassium levels are low. The RN also needs to know that the patient’s previous levels were 6.5 and 6.1 to alert the attending physician that the patient is steadily declining and immediate attention is needed. 

The focus group also discussed a desire for curated data, which would provide care teams with the top five or six important pieces of information needed to make a care decision.

Future State: According to the group, the future of clinical communication and collaboration platforms is developing an aware platform. The potential lies in taking in data points from various sources, interpreting them, and delivering an intelligent assessment to care team providers.

The healthcare industry continues to accelerate rapidly, and IT organizations need to stay ahead of the curve. By implementing an integrated clinical communication system, health systems unlock enormous value by making EHR data accessible in real-time with clinical collaboration features built-in.

Is your organization constrained by archaic communication tools and processes? Get the eBook “The CIOs Triple Threat Guide to Care Team Communication” to learn how IT has the power to solve common communication hurdles to support better patient care.

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