By Dipak Prasad, senior product manager, Devbridge.
Communication is one of the most important parts of the healthcare industry, but as it stands it may be the most challenging element as well. To reach the best patient outcomes, it is critical for patients, doctors, hospitals, and facilities to communicate with one another seamlessly, securely, and digitally.
The incredible amount of information that needs to be accurately communicated presents a challenge by itself, but the extensive regulations create an added layer of difficulty. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) strives to protect the private data of a patient but creates challenges when having to quickly communicate critical information from different parts of the medical team.
Currently, many organizations are decentralized and use multiple digital outlets. There is company-sponsored email, instant message, and portals, plus personal email accounts, mobile and messaging applications—all with the potential to complicate and compromise the quality and security of communication.
Software has the ability to automate certain administrative tasks, enabling medical professionals to focus on patient care and improving patient outcomes. In a notoriously and widely distributed workforce where communication is essential, introducing an effective unified communication tool will increase operational efficiency, decrease infrastructure and maintenance costs.
A unified communication tool needs to connect all personnel across distributed locations, divisions, departments, and functions. A unified system should:
- Be flexible and extensible—enabling adaption to future needs
- Support multiple communication methods (voice, text, data, video)
- Integrate with existing systems. Put the user experience at the forefront rivaling widely-used mobile communication platforms (WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger)
- Cater to user requirements by including unique, job-enhancing features based on real scenarios.
- Increase operational efficiency while being secure and HIPAA compliant
Tips on how to create an effective communications system:
Diagnose the problem: Run a discovery phase to identify organizational issues and opportunities for improvement through story mapping workshops with stakeholders, interviewing end-users, and conducting surveys. Then, create a service blueprint noting your findings. Ensure all stakeholders are aligned.
Define the minimum viable product (MVP): Prioritize the most significant issues and tackle those first to define the goals for the MVP. Validate your wireframes and prototypes with the original group of individuals who determined the problem space to inform the solution. Allow the test group to try the product early and often, allowing them to guide the solution and feel involved in the process.