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How Clinical Communication Enhances Patient Safety

Health systems know it is imperative to work and promote better clinical communication. Not only will it help prevent avoidable adverse health events, but improved teamwork and interdepartmental relationships can reduce clinician burnout. Consider the following:

  • A 2018 report found communication issues contributed to 31-32% of medical liability cases within ambulatory, inpatient, and emergency department care settings.
  • A University of California, San Francisco study from 2016 found nearly 27% of hospital readmissions could have potentially been avoided with better communication among healthcare teams.
  • Another 2016 study found communication breakdowns contributed to 30% of malpractice cases. The study concluded these failures were associated with more than 1,700 deaths.

In fact, 96% of hospitals last year reported they budgeted for or were currently investing in a comprehensive Clinical Communication Platform, in part because of the acknowledgement that mobile technology helps improve patient safety.

But exactly how is patient safety enhanced with clinical communication?

Faster & More Coordinated Communication

Essential to care coordination is the timely delivery of information to all caregivers. Secure messaging allows clinicians to communicate directly and clearly with one another, giving them the ability to avoid working through an answering service or playing phone tag.

For example, a primary care physician needing a consult can contact a specialist using a secure communication platform, and within minutes the specialist can respond and collaborate. When a patient needs pain medication, it can be excruciating to wait for a desk clerk to track down a physician who isn’t responding to his pager. One communication platform that integrates messaging with an on-call scheduling system provides caregivers the ability to find the clinicians they need—immediately.

Transitions of care notifications can positively impact patient care as well. When patients are admitted to the hospital, their primary care physicians need to know about it, and they need an easy way to contact the admitting hospitalist if they have important health information share. The patient will benefit immensely from the continuity of care between the inpatient and outpatient settings.

Interruptions & Noise – for both Clinicians and Patients

Ringing telephones and beeping pagers interrupt patient encounters and shift the focus away from patients. Physicians are careful not to get interrupted while seeing patients, but hospital nurses have not been given adequate communication tools to protect vital encounters at the bedside. Nurses need to be able to distinguish between an urgent message that must be addressed immediately versus something that can wait. The ability to let a non-urgent message wait can make all the difference for the patient in the moment. Additionally, when a nurse can be made aware of critical results and important messages through silent notifications, patients benefit from a calmer and less agitating environment. That, no doubt, will make everyone happier.

Mistakes are Averted

An enterprise-wide Clinical Communication Platform include features designed to streamline communication and prevent errors. Escalating notification systems ensure that essential communication doesn’t go unread. Sophisticated software can group messages into threads so that it is always clear what patient is being discussed, so there are no errors in care.

Communication is a crucial component of coordinated care. Make sure your organization is positioned to communicate efficiently and safely with a robust secure messaging platform.