3 Steps to Build Enterprise Healthcare Communications
February 06, 2018
As the leading provider of healthcare communications, we do it all: Anything that involves clinical communication and collaboration—secure messaging, paging, clinical alerting, contact center, critical test results—we’ve got you covered with Spok Care Connect®. We can help advance your hospital from islands of information and manual processes to a fully integrated healthcare communication platform that supports every department, role, and device.
However, doing this all at once can be a daunting task for any healthcare organization—and understandably so. The shift to workflow-driven communications is bigger than just technology. It’s people, processes, and culture, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve found that taking a ‘build approach’ to steadily mature clinical communications is highly effective to realizing streamlined workflows, improved care coordination, and better outcomes.
1. Start at the Heart: Contact Center
The contact center is the hub of all communication activity within the hospital. Like the heart supplying blood to the body, the contact center staff receive and deliver information throughout the hospital. They’re responsible for connecting physicians, nurses, and other staff members quickly and providing excellent service to patients and families. Many also have advanced responsibilities like launching critical codes and providing physician answering service.
This makes the contact center and its directory the ideal place to start modernizing your communications and generating significant ROI. Without an enterprise healthcare communication platform, hospitals often require operators to rely on three-ring binders with printed directories and on-call schedules. A healthcare-grade communication system provides call agents with the ability to quickly and accurately look up staff—while providing efficient call handling, standard protocols to increase efficiency, and centralized scheduling to improve accuracy. Start with the contact center, and you have a solid foundation for expanding clinical, enterprise communication technology throughout the hospital.
2. Involve Your Clinicians: Messaging
After you’ve created a connected contact center, the logical next step is to extend the capabilities of a healthcare communication platform to your clinical departments. An enterprise, web-based directory empowers everyone to search and find (in real time) on-call schedules, and contact details and preferences. After you’ve established this single source of truth that everyone can access, your next step is to equip your care teams to send and receive meaningful information, and ultimately deliver coordinated care more effectively.
That requires a mobility strategy: Will your hospital support bring-your-own-device (BYOD), or provide hospital-issued devices? What are your mobile device use policies, and how will you educate users? Once your organization decides on its device mix—smartphones, pagers, tablets, Wi-Fi phones, voice badges (or all of the above)—it’s time to improve the efficiency, quality, and security of mobile communications by rolling out secure messaging. Whether they depend on a secure application on a smartphone or encrypted paging, all care team members (clinical and non-clinical) need a reliable, convenient way to collaborate while keeping protected health information (PHI) safe.
3. Become Smarter and Faster: Workflows
Here’s where it all comes together: Once all your people can quickly and safely communicate valuable information, you can begin to share context and messages from systems, which makes the information more actionable and can help slash seconds, minutes, or even hours from clinical workflows. Clinical alerting can notify the right care team members of patient events, such as new critical test results. Sophisticated alarm management can send only relevant alerts to clinicians’ mobile devices, reducing alarm fatigue and improving patient safety. Hospitals can even integrate their communication platform with their EHR and quickly rally response teams when a patient’s vital signs deteriorate. For example, when an EHR sepsis surveillance demonstrates an elevated modified early warning score (MEWS), that alert can automatically be sent to a sepsis response team, speeding clinical response to a potentially life-threatening event.
It’s all about ‘starting to build’ as much as you can at one time. Even if it’s a slow and steady approach to unified clinical communications, you’re going to get there, and that’s going to make a tremendous difference for your staff and your patients.
Ready to get started? Our Professional Services team has decades of experience in solution design, consultation and configuration, rollout, training, and optimization. As healthcare’s trusted partner—we’ll help you build, at each step, an enterprise communication platform that enhances workflows for clinicians, supports administrative compliance, and provides a better experience for patients. Just give us a shout.
By Brian Edds, Vice President, Product Strategy
Brian joined Spok in 2010, bringing over a decade of experience in mobile strategy, software as a service, and enterprise software systems. He helped lead the strategy and development of Spok Mobile® and is currently responsible for strategic product direction. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in business, economics, and computer science from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the Carlson School of Management.