The Importance of Effective Healthcare Communications
Effective healthcare communication is the currency of every well-run facility. Indeed, healthcare communications processes have the potential to make, or break, an entire hospital. Teams coordinate well, and perform well, only when they communicate well. Unfortunately – healthcare teams often communicate badly. Why? Because healthcare communications are rife with inefficiencies and regulatory stumbling blocks. Pagers beep incessantly, messages go unanswered, security protocols hamper instant messaging and file sharing, and as a result, teams become confused, uncoordinated, and ineffective. Similar communication problems occur in almost all professional (and personal) settings. But, the consequences of communication problems in healthcare settings are much more serious and urgent than they are in other contexts. In healthcare, communication problems often spell the difference between life and death. Healthcare communications are, for this reason, one of the most important considerations of healthcare management teams.
Key Healthcare Communication Problems
Many of the communication problems that healthcare teams suffer from are direct results of infrastructural and regulatory roadblocks. Free and frequent exchanges of information are necessary for optimal communication. In healthcare, such free-flowing information streams are impossible to achieve, because of the regulatory restrictions that privacy and security concerns create. For example, HIPAA requirements, and HITECH regulations mandate that patients’ personal health information needs to be kept private. These regulations, though extremely important, often act as stumbling blocks for effective healthcare communications practices within hospitals. Hospitals build clunky, password-heavy communication infrastructures to abide by these kinds of privacy and security regulations. The Result is a communications system that is extremely difficult to use, especially in emergency settings. Regulations impede healthcare professionals from saying what they need to say, in the way they want to say it: normal text messaging is impossible, photo sharing is difficult, and urgent messages need to be vague, instead of specific.
Healthcare Communications Resources
The Imprivata Report on the Economic Impact of Inefficient Communications in Healthcare provides a useful guide to understanding how communications inefficiency impacts provider workflows and the patient care process.
Stop Paging, start communicating: 5 reasons to replace pagers with secure messaging for collaborative team-based care
This Spyglass Consulting Group report identifies the market opportunities and challenges for hospital IT to consider when replacing their existing paging systems with a secure enterprise-class messaging solution to enhance clinical communications, improve care coordination, and protect patient information.
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