- Ineffective communication costs U.S. health systems in a variety of ways, including an estimated $4 million per year for a 500-bed hospital.
- Clinical collaboration platforms (CCPs) are designed to address these inefficiencies by uniting all communication methods, all healthcare roles, and all locations on a single platform.
- Through countless CCP deployments, Halo Health has observed best practices for ensuring clinical collaboration success that are shared.
Within healthcare, outdated and disjointed technologies are key contributors to ineffective clinical communication. And ineffective clinical communication costs U.S. health systems in a variety of ways, including preventable:
- Medical errors
- Delays in care
- Security breaches
- Productivity strains
- Provider and patient dissatisfaction
One of the more well-known studies on this issue, “Quantifying the Economic Impact of Communication Inefficiencies in U.S. hospitals,” conservatively estimates that communication inefficiencies cost a 500-bed hospital $4 million per year. The authors note that it is a conservative estimate because it does “not include all dimensions of economic waste arising from poor communications.” Beyond that, communication inefficiencies can also have a significant toll on patient and provider well-being.
Clinical Collaboration Platforms (CCPs)
Clinical collaboration platforms (CCPs) are designed specifically to address these challenges. CCPs unite texting, voice, video, and alerts on a single platform to streamline clinical communication and workflows across all healthcare roles and departments. CCPs are much more than HIPAA-compliant texting – rather, the platforms integrate with key clinical systems such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), patient monitors, and on-call schedules to deliver the right information to the right person, regardless of role or location. CCPs allow clinicians to act on important information quickly to reduce delays in care and improve satisfaction.
Strong Technology + Flawed Deployment = Failure
But not all clinical collaboration platform deployments are destined for success. Common missteps that derail CCP initiatives include:
- Deployments exclusive to individual roles or departments. Providers need to collaborate with nurses and staff to deliver great care. Hospitalists need to collaborate with cardiology and other specialists. Healthcare communication is inherently specialized and cross-functional. As such, a CCP needs to span all of these roles and specialties.
- Siloed technology for niche purposes. All too often healthcare organizations apply “band-aid” fixes to individual technology challenges – one solution for texting, another solution for voice, another solution for scheduling, and so forth. Without a holistic view of collaboration, dis-jointed solutions and inefficient communication persist.
- Lack of broad-based buy-in. Clinical collaboration platforms touch all members of a healthcare organization. To address the challenges of today’s healthcare communication, solutions need broad support from frontline caregivers, support staff, and leadership from providers, nurses, IT, and the administration.
Best Practices for Successful CCP Initiatives
With countless CCP deployments under our belt, Halo Health has observed consistent best practices that lead to sustained success with clinical collaboration. They are:
- Understand the needs of all key stakeholders. CCP initiatives fail when input from clinicians and IT is unbalanced. It is critical to align expectations from both groups, as well as administrative leaders, from the start. One-sided initiatives lead to surprises, poor adoption, and wasted time.
- Deploy enterprise wide. This means all roles, departments, and locations, both acute and ambulatory. As noted previously, collaboration stalls when a CCP is isolated to only select roles. Consider the trend of more care moving to lower-cost ambulatory settings, and the importance of scaling communication beyond the hospital, even to affiliated medical practices, becomes clear.
- Understand and support role-based workflows. Healthcare is a highly interconnected yet specialized ecosystem (i.e., hospitalists contacting cardiologists, neurologists, etc.). And the people staffing those specialties are constantly rotating in and out of “on-call” roles. Therefore, it is important to choose a CCP vendor designed for role-based communication – for example, texting the “on-call cardiologist” role and having it reach the correct person instantly without having to know exactly who that person is.
- Update the communication infrastructure. The best clinical collaboration platform will falter in practice if the local network has too many “dead zones” or cannot handle the increase in messaging traffic. Similarly, personnel need access to modern smart devices that can take advantage of all a CCP has to offer, but also stand up to the unique rigors of the healthcare environment (“medical grade” smart devices).
- Integrate with clinical applications. CCPs do not operate in a vacuum – they must easily integrate with key information sources to mobilize the most important data for clinical decision-making. This includes, but is not limited to, EHRs and patient monitors.
- Establish communication protocols. Introducing a CCP to your workforce is a cultural change that could increase interruption fatigue if not managed properly. Users need to be taught, upfront and ongoing, what types of messages are appropriate vs. inappropriate. A message of “thank you,” while courteous, adds unnecessary noise to an already busy environment that de-sensitizes clinicians.