Emergency rooms are critical places where healthcare communications are vital no matter the scenario. However, the way that doctors converse with one another in these situations is also crucial in order to create a more streamlined and functional medical care environment. Last year’s West African Ebola outbreak and others like it have signaled the need for such communication standards – and Web-based portals could be an efficient tool in helping medical personnel respond quickly and more accurately.
ER visits are up
According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, ER visits since the implementation of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law have increased, as more individuals have access to insurance. The ACFP also points out that there is a shortage of severe primary care physicians in the U.S. So, not only are ERs understaffed in many parts of the country, but doctors are also seeing more patients. Understandably, the need for proper communications portals is paramount.
Emergency room overuse is also a great concern for these medical theaters, according to AMN Healthcare. However, proper care coordination combined with new technologies such as mobile health platforms can allow doctors to more efficiently monitor patient status, optimize continuity of care, accurately update patients’ records and reduce readmissions or duplicate tests.
Moreover, many ER doctors already rely on their smartphones to track their day-to-day schedule anyway, as Manhattan Research’s director of physician research, James Avallone, explained in 2014 to Mobi Health News.
“We have seen over the past three years how smartphones and tablets cohabitate, which they do very well, by the way,” Avallone said. “We’ve also seen the smartphone become much more of a solid physician accompaniment throughout the course of the work day. It has really cemented itself with its own professional profile of how physicians are using it.”
Avallone’s statement echoes a recent Kantar Media survey showing that more than half of doctors are currently using tablets for professional reasons. Clearly, digital solutions are important for medical staff, especially ER specialists who are seeing more patients with less resourcing.
How mobile health tools can help ERs
A 2015 study published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research also maintained that ER services in the U.S. are “growing at an alarming rate.” Thus, hospital administrators need to take steps to optimize these departments so patient care doesn’t falter, healthcare costs don’t rise and medical mistakes on EHRs and other documentation don’t happen. To calculate the impact of real-time Web-based utility in emergency departments, researchers associated with the IJMR study analyzed data from Maine’s health information exchange, HealthInfoNet.The results showed that validated Web-based solutions were able to effectively monitor total population risk across all payers, diseases and age groups.
Emergency rooms contain environments where quick, important decisions are made every day, and because these departments are often short-staffed, it is crucial that communication is a top priority. With mobile health apps that enable HIPAA texting, doctors can send patient data and communicate more effectively, right from their smartphones, tablets or laptops.