The business case for improving clinical communications

By Alan H. Rosenstein, MD, MBA  /  10 Mar 2014

Healthcare has become extremely complicated. The population is rapidly aging and therefore the patients we serve are much sicker than they’ve ever been. There are new treatments and new technologies available to help treat those patients, and a growing demand for healthcare services to support them, but this also requires multiple caregivers – doctors, nurses, care managers, therapists and other members of the health care team – to be responsible for a single person’s care both within and outside hospital walls.

All of this creates the “perfect storm” for improving clinical communications, but it can be difficult to justify yet another expense to implement a technology or workflow solution to address this issue. To me, there are three key facets to the business use case for improving clinical communications:

1. Timely, accurate and meaningful information – Using data analytics to identify opportunities to improve performance outcomes is key to improving performance outcomes. Implementing data systems that are able to integrate and compare key utilization, cost, quality, safety, and satisfaction metrics and be able to disseminate results in a timely fashion will enhance accountability and task resolution.

2. Better care coordination – With all of these different clinicians touching a patient at any given time, it’s increasingly critical that those clinicians speak with one another. Not having the appropriate tools in place, supported by a clear map of the required clinical workflow, severely impedes the ability for clinicians to communicate with one another efficiently and effectively. This can lead to delays or gaps in patient treatment, poor patient satisfaction and at the worst end of the spectrum, poor quality care. I don’t know of a single hospital or health system that wouldn’t like to mitigate these risks.

3. More complete family communication – When a family member is in the hospital, the time between updates from the hospital on their status can feel like days and days. Healthcare organizations need a more complete communication model that encompasses this group and prepares them for what’s next for their loved one. A mutually-coordinated clinical communications model takes this into consideration and addresses the concerns of the patient and their families in the waiting room. Again, this can lead to improvements in patient satisfaction scores for these organizations over time.

Posted By Alan H. Rosenstein, MD, MBA
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