5 Ways Healthcare Communication Platforms Reduce Clinician Burden
It is no secret the U.S. healthcare system has some formidable challenges.
Despite recent advances in AI and ML, alternate staffing models and well-publicized concerns about the state of the healthcare workforce, the turnover rates among nurses and physicians are contributing to further adversity in our healthcare system. Healthcare professionals are resilient and passionate about their role in caring for others, and continuously seeking ways to improve patient care. However, models for care are shifting, patient cases are becoming more complex, and optimization of technology for the clinical user has not always been a priority; further adding to the challenges associated with modern patient care.
One crucial piece in resolving issues related to overburdened staff is the role of effective communication in reducing their burden. In this blog post, we will delve into five ways in which better healthcare communication platforms can lead to a reduction in burden, ultimately supporting improved patient care and overall satisfaction.
1. Streamlined Information Sharing
Clear and efficient communication among healthcare team members is essential for providing comprehensive and safe care to patients. When clinicians can also easily access accurate and up-to-date patient information, they can make informed decisions more quickly. Automated alerts and communication of patient results directly to care team members can assist in:
- Streamlining patient care
- Expediting critical interventions
- Notifying all necessary team members simultaneously.
Healthcare communication platforms that provide features for automation and integration with key interfaces can minimize the time spent looking for an available computer to access the EMR, searching for information in the patient record, and phone calls to check on results. As a result, this enables care teams to function effectively and focus on patient care..
2. Minimized Risk of Miscommunication
Miscommunications can lead to medical errors, which not only jeopardize patient safety and put revenue at risk, but also create unnecessary work for clinicians.
In their 2022 Annual Review of Sentinel Event Data, The Joint Commission had this to say regarding miscommunication, “When analyzing the root cause of sentinel events, communication breakdowns (e.g., not establishing a shared understanding or mental model across care team members, or no or inadequate staff-to-staff communication of critical information) continue to be the leading factor contributing to sentinel events."
Improved communication practices, including standardized handoffs, clear documentation, and standardized communication protocols, can greatly reduce the risk of errors.
3. Patient-Focused Collaboration
In healthcare, a patient's care often involves a multidisciplinary team that is composed of doctors, nurses, specialists, and ancillary staff. Modern healthcare communication platforms enable seamless collaboration among team members that is centered around patients. Virtual meetings, secure messaging platforms, and telehealth systems facilitate real-time consultations, case discussions, and treatment planning. This collaborative approach not only improves the quality of care but can also distribute the workload more evenly, reducing the burden on any single team member. Healthcare communication ecosystems and workflows that are developed around the patient can lead to a better team-based approach and safer patient care.
4. Improved Patient Engagement
Clear and empathetic communication between clinicians and patients is paramount for successful healthcare outcomes. One example includes a randomized study of asthma patients that saw a significant increase in controlling their symptoms when using a mobile platform that enabled them to communicate with their physician, ideally setting them up for increased engagement and improved quality of life. (Source: Cingi, C, Yorgancioglu, A, Cingi, CC, et al. The “physician on call patient engagement trial” (POPET): measuring the impact of a mobile patient engagement application on health outcomes and quality of life in allergic rhinitis and asthma patients. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2015; 5: 487–497.)
When patients understand their conditions, treatment plans, and the rationale behind medical decisions, they are more likely to adhere to care recommendations. Improved patient education through effective communication empowers patients to take an active role in their health, leading to fewer follow-up questions and concerns. As a result, clinicians spend less time addressing misunderstandings and can focus more on providing targeted care. Effective healthcare communication platforms can provide an entire ecosystem of touch points for patients and caregivers through text, video, and automated messages or reminders. Patients can be empowered with shared decision-making and be involved as part of their own care team.
5. Reduced Administrative Tasks
Clinicians often find themselves bogged down by administrative tasks that take away from direct patient care. Productive and innovative healthcare communication platforms can automate outreach like appointment reminders, prescription reminders, and follow-up instructions. Additionally, a secure communication platform that is mobile and includes various features like text, video, direct calling, image sharing, and document signature can offer flexibility to healthcare professionals. It can also help reduce the volume of in-person meetings, bring together remote teams as needed and allow them to create clinical workflows that meet changing priorities. By automating routine administrative tasks and having flexible solutions, clinicians can reallocate their time and energy to more impactful aspects of their roles.
In a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. Optimizing use of healthcare communication platforms can act as a staff multiplier to ease administrative burdens, simplify collaboration, and minimize the risks associated with miscommunication. As technology continues to advance and healthcare communication platforms become more sophisticated, clinicians can optimize their workflows, improve patient outcomes and engagement, and provide a holistic healthcare experience that is more efficient and satisfying for all parties involved.