Achieving Maximum Patient Satisfaction Through Effective Clinical Communications
Judit Sharon, CEO and founder of OnPage Corporation, sits down with Healthcare Innovation to discuss how advanced, effective clinical communication systems help teams achieve ultimate patient satisfaction.
How has the landscape around time-sensitive communications between and among clinicians and others in patient care delivery, evolved in the past few years?
Sharon: “For decades, care teams have relied on unencrypted paging hardware to receive notice of urgent patient-care situations. However, legacy pagers presented the opportunity for a HIPAA violation when used to exchange sensitive patient data. Pagers delivered uncoordinated, fragmented one-way communications, and prolonged the delivery of care while increasing the patient’s average length of stay (ALOS) in hospitals.
“Today, hospitals are increasingly supporting Wi-Fi networks and promoting the use of HIPAA-compliant smartphone communications. We’re seeing smartphone paging services improve healthcare operations through intelligent alerting and automation, helping care teams enhance accountability and responsiveness in the process. Smartphone pagers accelerate care delivery in hospitals and facilitate the sharing of information between clinicians.”
What have we learned from experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic about how to optimize time-sensitive communications around patient care?
Sharon: “COVID-19 exposed the presence of fragmented communications in healthcare and showed how hospitals were unprepared to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude. Clinicians that used traditional pagers during the pandemic had difficulty communicating with colleagues in real time. The entire page and phone tag cycle introduced inefficiencies that hindered care delivery.
“Clinical teams had to embrace digital transformation to gain a greater degree of situational awareness and collaborate to deliver effective patient-centric care during the pandemic. We learned that healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs) require automated, intuitive and easy-to-use clinical communication systems to accelerate patient care delivery. For instance, patients can dial dedicated phone numbers to speak directly with on-call practitioners in real time and receive immediate care.”
What are the biggest challenges facing clinical executives and leaders right now, in working to optimize time-sensitive communications in patient care delivery?
Sharon: “The biggest challenge is motivating healthcare providers to welcome and adopt new medical technology. Through our conversations with providers, we learned that transitioning to new technology can be perceived as something with no significant impact on patient care. Resistance to change is a common experience whenever an executive introduces new processes or systems to clinicians. Attempts to challenge existing workflows are always difficult and require significant leadership if the workflows are to change.
“Care coordination challenges continue to exist in some hospitals and often result in poor transitions of care and unwanted health outcomes. Poor communication and collaboration can lead to medication errors, complications from procedures, infections or even death. These scenarios happen when providers have compartmentalized decisions that do not enable collaboration with colleagues.”
What are some of the biggest opportunities that clinical executives and leaders can pursue, to optimize time-sensitive communications in patient care delivery?
Sharon: “Coordinated care is where healthcare is going, and it requires actively taking healthcare outside of compartmentalized systems. Executives must invest in a centralized communication tool that enables care team collaboration and connects disparate health systems, making information accessible at management’s fingertips. For instance, a clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) system provides real-time audit trails and post-event reports to detail a physician’s incident response performance. Using these insights, executives can assess the provider’s response time efficiency, and make appropriate workload changes via the CC&C system’s digital on-call schedules.
“Executives must automate processes and eliminate time-wasting activities that do not contribute to patient care. The goal is to increase productivity, save time and eliminate unnecessary costs through advanced, cost-effective technology. Technology to optimize clinical communications can include AI solutions, mobile team collaboration platforms, voice assistants and dedicated phone lines with live call routing. Executives must consider these real-time healthcare systems (RTHS) to improve care delivery and accelerate time-sensitive communications across departments.”
How will the needs of clinicians and staff, the opportunities for process change, and technologies in this area, all evolve forward in the next few years?
Sharon: “Healthcare is experiencing rapid innovation, driven by tech-savvy, emerging leaders in strategic roles that want to leverage automated, synchronous technology in their organizations. They recognize that effective communication practices make handoffs between providers smoother and clinical workflows efficient. In the modern healthcare environment, advanced communication technology is critical in connecting clinicians with other healthcare entities, ensuring the best, most immediate care for patients.”
Effective communication platforms, such as the entire OnPage system, streamline clinical workflows and accelerate care delivery to ensure patient satisfaction within hospitals. Organizations must invest in the solutions to modernize how care teams collaborate and coordinate during critical, life-and-death patient situations.