Reasons Why Your Hospital Needs Its Own Communication Portal

Guest post by Tatsiana Levdikova, copywriter, Effective Soft.

Tatsiana Levdikova
Tatsiana Levdikova

Hospital managers want to be sure that hospital staff constantly improve their skills and share relevant information with their colleagues. Automated solutions cannot become a substitute for a discussion where healthcare professionals can exchange their knowledge and share their ideas, but routine tasks can be arranged in the form of a workflow portal.

Usage of such a portal has a number of advantages:

  1. It will help employees to save their time;
  2. It will enable hospital managers to assign different access privileges to users, thus restricting access to medical data;
  3. The portal can automatically create and send out reports like the ones covering employee performance.
  4. This portal can be used to create its own medical knowledge base for the hospital.

A hospital is a place where like-minded people work and spend much time together. Not to lag behind other healthcare professionals, hospital staff must keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in medicine. However, being extremely busy during their working hours, the personnel has not time to discuss medical trends and developments on the fly: according to the National Center for Health Statistics the mean wait time in U.S. emergency departments increased 25 percent, from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes from 2003 through 2009.

A hospital communication portal seems to be the right choice in this case. However, it should be noted that developers of custom hospital software and such portals in particular must pay close attention to the specifics a medical organization has.

The portal will enable the personnel to share valuable medical information, such as aspects of people, companies, news and other things of interest in a convenient, efficient, and fast way. Besides, it is important to give users an ability to comment.

Users would have their own profiles enabling them to connect directly with each other. The profiles could also include basic information on departments where users work, room numbers, working hours, specializations, and more.

Capabilities of the portal could be extended further by adding elements of social networks by making it possible for users to upload videos and images, tagging other users to them, etc. A general chat or forum could also be launched. All in all, the portal could become an important part of the HRM reporting system and assist hospital managers in managing sources and personnel.

Such a portal has the potential to become much more than a communication tool. It could become an effective hospital automation tool:

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Healthcare’s Next Revolution Is Social, Not Digital

Guest post by Edgar T. Wilson, writer, consultant and analyst.

Edgar T. Wilson
Edgar T. Wilson

It seems increasingly disingenuous to frame health IT as being “revolutionary.”

For one, digitization has already swept nearly every other industry. The iPhone was a revolution in communication, but after generations of iterations and imitations, smartphones are normal, and consumers have adjusted their expectations accordingly.

To bring electronic health records (EHRs) into American hospitals and clinics is less a revolution, and more a remediation. That arguments continue over whether this upgrade will prove practical, valuable, or beneficial to patient care and clinical outcomes at all reflects that this evolution has been a top-down endeavor, rather than a true bottom-up transformation.

Despite rhetoric–and plenty of earnest optimism–the EHR rollout has been incremental, administratively-guided, federally-mandated push toward adoption. It has been a crawl toward process improvement more in the mode of Six Sigma than a grassroots “reset” button on the fundamentals of healthcare.

The true revolution–the one that patients and caregivers alike desperately need–is not merely technological, although technology may be our next best hope for realizing it.

A Mental Problem

Healthcare needs to unify behavioral and physical health, treatment, and discourse.

While physical medicine is climbing the next hill with respect to primary care provider (PCP) shortages, interoperability quagmires, and meaningful use (MU), behavioral health is facing the same primary challenges it has since well before health IT became such a hot topic.

Namely, recognition as a legitimate and necessary component of whole-person wellness and medical treatment.

But on both the side of care providers, and patients, physical health has been rigidly siloed away from behavioral health. Even EHRs have been shoehorned through America’s hospitals while behavioral health clinics have been barred from accessing incentive money. Their exclusion from the development table means fewer solutions and platforms exist at all for those facilities and caregivers who want to embrace digitization, because developers have been preoccupied with MU compliance.

The problem is sociological as much as it is a practical matter of care delivery. Stigmas persist–even as the conversation about CTE in the NFL escalates, the knee-jerk reaction is to provide players with better helmets, rather than emphasize how physical injury manifests in behavioral ways.

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Despite Technology, Paper and Printing Remain Vital to Healthcare’s Source of Communication

Guest post by Arron Fu, founder and CTO, UniPrint.net Corp.

Since the beginning of what is known as the “Information Age,” paper has been viewed as a canvas to document ideas, record relevant material and deliver messages to prospective readers. Continued innovations in technology have given billions of workers the ability to connect seamlessly — oftentimes with little effort. Convenience and efficiency are deemed topline must-haves, as we have handy cloud services that digitize essential materials like images and documents. Thus, common tasks like writing letters or printing receipts are now seen as passé as they can be streamlined or, in some cases, avoided altogether by utilizing email, apps and/or direct electronic messages.

Paper serves as a conduit for information to be shared easily among several parties. Because of this, until there is one other common denominator that everyone can recognize, paper and the need to utilize it will remain evergreen for people of all ages. As the original device of modern communication, paper has long held its position as a lifeline for several industries, most notably in healthcare. As an industry that adopted mobile working styles to great effect, healthcare has still seen the use of paper as a mission-critical component to their quest of providing quality patient care. For instance, in the health sector, paper is required for appointment and insurance documentation, differentiating prescriptions for patients and communicating clinical decision-making and objectives.

As one of the standard ways of utilizing paper, printing is also seen as a surefire way to quickly and succinctly relay a set of messages into a clear, readable format. But with several tech vendors proudly touting their robust “paperless” capabilities in an effort to curb waste and conserve ink, it begs the question – in the long run, where will paper end up for our communication needs? Outside of the workplace, does it still make sense to consider printing and paper “dead” when it was one of the first sources of communication? Will it serve us or become obsolete in our electronically-dependent world? No. In truth, paper, in tandem with printing, will always be around in some capacity.

Today, one of the growing general notions of technology is that electronic sources of communication have eclipsed functions that were previously considered the norm. However, in the workforce, printing is a central, vital function. But what advances will industries have to do to maintain innovation and relevancy in an increasingly digital world? Continued flexibility to support mobile and BYOD work styles, compatibility with cloud documents and the bandwidth to securely support multiple print devices within a single environment are a few features that can the healthcare sector evolve with the technological curve while still maintaining some of its classic characteristics.

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The Evolving Etiquette of Healthcare Communication

Guest post by Terry Edwards, president and CEO, PerfectServe.

Terry Edwards

Each day, healthcare professionals need to communicate with colleagues, patients and others outside of their organization. These communications often contain critical information about dosage changes, requests for a consultation and other healthcare information that can have life-or-death consequences for patients.

From email and texting to calls and overhead pages, there are a dozen different ways healthcare professionals can communicate with one another. Many of these modes of communication are fairly new, and clinicians are still continuing to teach each other the rules of the road and associated etiquette.

But as healthcare transforms to be more focused on value-based care, it’s becoming even more important to get this right. To coordinate patient care across the patient’s entire journey within the health system, clinicians need to know how to reach each other in the best way. Although communication is an essential part of the job for clinicians, a recent survey of 955 healthcare professionals1 conducted online by Harris Poll and commissioned by PerfectServe, shows that clinicians aren’t always communicating in the way that they’d prefer.

Lessons learned:

Find a way to speak in person when possible: For complex or in-depth conversations within their organizations, healthcare professionals say they prefer to speak face-to-face (41 percent for physicians; 37 percent for non-physicians). This preference is particularly strong with nurses, with 55 percent of nurses surveyed saying their preferred method is face-to-face communication for complex or in-depth conversations with physician care team members. Speaking in person allows clinicians to focus on the conversation. Many of the clinicians I work with say taking time to speak in person gives them the opportunity to build a stronger rapport with their colleagues, which can make it easier to foster care coordination.

Think before picking up the phone: Phone calls are by far the most frequent form of communication with care team members outside their organization. More than half (55 percent) of clinicians say they most frequently use a phone call to connect with physician care team members outside of their organizations, and 48 percent most frequently use the phone to communicate with non-physician care team members outside of their organization. But while everyone is picking up the phone, only about a quarter of clinicians actually prefer phone calls for that kind of information sharing (29 percent for brief communications with physician care team members outside of their organization; 25 percent for outside non-physician members). In my work with clinicians, many say that the ring of the phone is an interruption to their work, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) of clinicians reported that they often receive pages or calls that are of low priority, which disrupts patient care.

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Today’s Healthcare Collaboration Technologies No Longer Bound by Time or Location

Brent Lang
Brent Lang

Guest post by Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera Communications.

There have been dramatic changes to the look and feel of healthcare communication and collaboration technologies over the past few years. The demands of healthcare reform have shaped new challenges not previously seen or imagined, and in turn have spawned the development of entirely new solutions to meet those needs.

As healthcare professionals discover new and broader uses for healthcare technology in patient care, one goal remains – driving efficiencies that bring the nurse back to the patient’s bedside, which in turn improves both the quality of care and patient experience. In doing so, technology solutions must also defy the four walls of the hospital to connect clinicians across the care continuum whether or not they are physically on site.

As healthcare communication technology has progressed, the topic of mobility has become hotter than ever. Today’s hospital workforce needs to be increasingly mobile and collaborative. This requires solutions that are no longer defined by time or location. Healthcare employees are constantly on the move, and must be able to securely connect from anywhere to answer questions and respond to emergencies. Naturally, communication systems that can keep up are in high-demand. When a clinician has the ability to instantly locate the resources and information he or she needs, while in transit, treatment delays and medical errors are prevented.

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