Improving healthcare collaboration through mobile platforms
How clinical communications and collaboration make a difference
Improving collaboration in the healthcare industry is vital in today’s complex world. The current state of care coordination is marked by operational inefficiencies that inhibit the streamlining of care. Given this reality, doing nothing to change the level of collaboration is perhaps the biggest risk to the industry that needs significant improvement in its delivery of care, containing of costs and improving the patient experience. Failure to provide meaningful action will work to retard the delivery of care, the containment of costs and improving of the patient experience.
In the face of this inertia, clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) systems hold the greatest opportunity to unite the delivery of healthcare and decrease inefficiencies. CC&C can achieve its greatest potential by embracing the use of mobile devices in the hospital or clinical setting.
The goal of this blog is to further highlight the challenges that are pressing against the adoption of measures to improve efficiency. At the same time, this blog also hopes to elucidate the components of mobile platforms that stand to improve the efficiency of CC&C most dramatically.
Care coordination challenges continue to exist despite huge investments in IT. These challenges often result in poor transitions of care that result in poor health outcomes. These negative patient outcomes can be results such as medication errors, complications from procedures, infections or even death. These scenarios are seen when providers have compartmentalized decisions that do not enable collaboration with colleagues.
Some of the challenges exist because providers are unsure of the outcomes that will result when they shift from traditional methods of coordination and communication to a collaborative model of healthcare. These providers who question the shift question if it is possible to depend on alerts, escalations and sensors for their information rather than low-tech best practices. Additionally, attempts to challenge existing workflows are always difficult and require significant leadership if the workflows are to change.
Yet, coordinating care is where healthcare is going and it requires actively taking healthcare outside of this compartmentalized system. This means that the timely exchange of patient information occurs and that operational intelligence surrounding the patient occurs among care team members. To this end, more rigorous transitions of care are needed.
What teams need to do
CC&C platforms highlight the bringing together of conventional inpatient communications such as email, paging and phone systems with more modern technologies associated with mobility and cloud. Mobile platforms, in particular, have the ability to provide the greatest impact on healthcare’s coordination and collaboration. To this end, we are highlighting the aspects of mobile platforms which can most engage healthcare providers and ensure the optimal outcomes.
Research has highlighted that improved care coordination and transitions of care can occur by equipping care teams with mobile clinical communications and collaboration tools that interoperate with other core components of the care team collaboration ecosystem. To this end, clinical communications platforms should have the following components.
Alarm filtering and management – In today’s hospital rooms, telemetry abounds. Often, there are hook ups to heart monitors, breathing monitors and other vital signs. However, it is impossible to determine if beeps are related to low priority or high priority situations. Part of effective CC&C means that these alarms can be filtered and managed so that high priority alerts are escalated to the appropriate nurse or physician. Patient care becomes easier because not every alert requires a nurse of physician. Instead, only high priority situations incur an alert to the nurse or physician.
Attachments and file sharing – As part of effective patient care, radiology and other test results are frequently required. However, if these results are not digital and cannot be easily shared then they impede patient care. Instead, CC&C requires that mobile platforms allow physicians to attach these files to secure messages and send attachments or share files with colleagues.
Group or team broadcast messaging – Group messaging is required when all on-calls are required to treat incoming patients. At times, administrators might also need to provide a broadcast message in the case of an emergency for the hospital or a natural disaster which will mean numerous patients coming to the hospital. “Mass messaging” becomes an important addition to the mobile platform during these sorts of circumstances.
Mass and group messaging are important for improving patient outcomes in serious situations. Only with appropriate alerting and updates can large numbers of individuals quickly be apprised of imminent situations.
Presence status – In interacting with nurse and physician colleagues on mobile devices, it is necessary to have the ability to see their status. Is the colleague logged onto the mobile device or are they not receiving messages at the moment? Without access to this sort of information, workflow is inevitably retarded from an optimal flow and significant time is wasted in knowing if the provider is receiving the messages.
By contrast, if the healthcare institution has access to the individual’s ‘presence status’ then colleagues will not waste time sending messages or consult requests to providers who are not available. By improving this component of CC&C, significant time is saved and patient treatment is expedited.
Reporting and analytics – Healthcare administrators need to be able to measure the efficiency and availability of their healthcare staff. Are some physicians or nurses not responding to alerts? Are the hospitalists receiving an unbearably high number of alerts during over night? With access to analytics, administrative staff and CIOs can see where bottlenecks exists and what they might need to do to improve workflows.
These points are key as they contribute timely and meaningful information to inform the patient journey and increase its speed.
Impact of improvements
CC&C can improve care quality, care team effectiveness and – most importantly – the patient experience. According to Gartner, by improving care quality, hospitals will improve their positioning, customer satisfaction, team morale and reimbursements. Gartner writes that:
The value proposition of CC&C is manifest. Clinicians see the benefits of CC&C – how it can positively influence patient safety and the patient experience, care team productivity and employee satisfaction , the healthcare provider’s ability to manage patient throughput and capacity, workflow optimization and increase response and disaster preparedness
However, to achieve these ends, healthcare CIOs need to look beyond conventional patient management solutions such as pagers, email and phone calls and look into the new mobility platforms to satisfy more demanding consumer and patient expectations.
Platforms such as OnPage’s robust clinical communications platform provide the basis for the interconnectivity and collaboration that hospitals and clinics need to communicate, collaborate and care for patients.