The Right Tool for the Problem: EHRs Aren’t Enough for Clinical Communication, Collaboration

Key Learnings

  • Healthcare leaders are seeking solutions to improve clinical communication
  • EHRs are not designed for clinical communication and collaboration
  • Clinical collaboration platforms are built for the problems you need to solve

Against the backdrop of a national health emergency, healthcare providers are struggling with clinical collaboration and communication. More than ever before—every moment counts. But multidisciplinary care delivery is becoming increasingly difficult, which impacts patient outcomes. At a time when physicians and nurses alike are feeling overwhelmed – and clinician burnout is real – they need help.
At this point, one of the very first questions that often comes up around improving care delivery is “what about our EHR? Isn’t this what it’s supposed to do?” And it’s an understandable question. However, I would argue it’s most important to first identify what you need and then choose a tool that provides you this outcome.
So, here’s the thing: EHRs were never meant to be the clinical communication and collaboration solution some people imagine.
A recent Lancet article noted that “electronic health records (EHRs) were supposed to usher in a golden age of improved care, efficiency, and safety…increasing patient engagement, and even reducing healthcare disparities. But these systems have complicated interdisciplinary communication and worsened clinician workloads, contributing to clinician burnout, and opportunities for error.”
“In theory, well designed EHRs should be able to facilitate interdisciplinary communication and collaboration,” through notation, author Bryant Furlow argues. But in reality, “that sort of flexibility fosters organizational inconsistency that can complicate information retrieval and create barriers to effective teamwork.” And in our experience in working with tens of thousands of healthcare roles, many clinicians agree: EHRs are insufficient for clinical communication, care coordination or collaboration.

When EHR’s are valuable, and when you need something more

Electronic health records have a purpose in healthcare – from supporting clinical documentation and orders to permitting But when it comes to communicating and enabling more coordinated and efficient care, they simply fall short.
In the experience of clinicians, when EHRs are used for care messaging, there’s typically a disjointed, and complicated result. In-boxes become cumbersome to manage and monitor, and EHR messaging may not fit the bill – both which pose a potential risk of patients falling through the cracks and being readmitted.

So what’s the answer?

Rather than trying to force an EHR module to mimic clinical communication and workflows, healthcare organizations can utilize technology solutions that are built for exactly what they’re intended. Clinical Collaboration Platforms (CCP) are solutions created for the purpose of improving clinical coordination and collaboration.
CCPs enable care providers across the care continuum to easily find the right roles for clinical communication workflows such as specialty service consultations, admissions, transfers, and coordinating complex discharges. The simplicity of role-based messaging empowers providers to quickly identify the right on-call team member to contact to discuss patient care needs in real-time.
And, outside the acute space, providers can leverage a CCP for their practice on-call schedules while still leveraging the after-hours call center seamlessly.
The truth is, trying to use a tool that isn’t designed for your problem is just another band aid solution. It never truly addresses the problem, it never lends you the results you’re looking for, and it’ll leave you wishing you would have made a different decision from the start. 

Ready to continue your journey? Explore these resources:
Mobile Clinical Communication Ecosystem Supports Asante’s Award-Winning Patient Care
Making the Case for a Clinical Collaboration Platform
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