Improving Patient Care While Saving Time for Doctors

Delivering excellent patient care is your organisation’s top priority. You can improve patient care while also saving time for your doctors with smart technology and communication solutions that augment the EMR to help you:

  1. Improve care team coordination and collaboration by connecting the team with secure messaging
  2. Deliver important patient status updates such as alerts and critical test results automatically to improve care quality and patient safety while reducing time spent on phone tag and checking the EMR for updates
  3. Achieve reliable, rapid team response for events such as inpatient code calls, disaster action plans, or less critical events like staff meetings

Helping doctors improve outcomes requires bringing all elements of healthcare communication together with mobile and desktop solutions that are integrated into your EMR and biomedical devices. Unified hospital communication tools help doctors:

  • Engage in rich, secure, and reliable conversations with the care team on mobile devices that can be augmented with images, sounds, and videos
  • Determine which colleagues are on call and available via an integrated on-call scheduling solution with doctor status indicators
  • Act on key changes to the patient status through integration with the EMR, ancillary systems, and biomedical devices
  • Respond to key events through a coordinated notification system using the on-call schedule with escalations and response tracking

Effective communications can help doctors improve patient care:

  • Enhance care team coordination: Secure messaging enables the care team to collaborate with two-way conversations that provide everyone with complete and current information.
  • Get the information needed to make decisions now: Prioritised alerts and well-defined escalations for important messages provide your doctors with critical patient information quickly and support treatment planning.
  • Identify the right caregiver quickly: Having on-call schedules available and visible means your doctors are able to message an on-call colleague quickly by name or role. In addition, well-managed on-call schedules mean your doctors are not contacted during their personal time.
  • Use a preferred device: A unified communication system that works with a variety of devices means you can leverage the preferred devices of your doctors for messaging.
  • Save precious time: Instead of repeatedly logging into the EMR for critical information, your doctors can receive important test results easily via a smartphone or other device.

Communicate with the Care Team

Effective, Timely Communications Needed to Coordinate Care

Communication across the hospital and among care teams has become progressively more convoluted. The use of diverse mobile devices and the rise in care complexity necessitating care team coordination mean more sophisticated and user-friendly communication technology is required.

With “delivery/read” notification and automatic escalations, your staff can avoid the time and trouble of wondering whether their messages were received, and who should be contacted if a particular team member is unavailable. The ability to prioritise messages and notifications to separate those that require immediate attention from those that don’t is another important capability.

Consider just some of the systems storing and/or sending information to a multitude of different devices: mobile phones, desk phones, pagers, voice badges, email systems, tablets, Wi-Fi phones, and more. The key to effective communications is to connect these islands of information to the right person on their device of choice.

Receive Critical Information

Get the Information Needed to Make Decisions Now

Not all communications sent to doctors are urgent, but messages that require fast action to save a life or avoid a sentinel event must get a doctor’s attention quickly and contain enough information to act upon. Smart messaging systems provide alert prioritisation with different ringtones to audibly let a doctor know the urgency of the message they receive, as well as place the most urgent notifications at the top of the inbox. As part of a larger clinical communications platform, a secure messaging solution also supports the secure sharing of patient details, the ability to identify and connect with other members of the care team, and escalation pathways for urgent messages that are not responded to in a timely manner. All of these features work together to promote patient safety and care quality.

Identify the Right Caregiver Quickly

Find the Right Doctor the First Time

Finding the right doctor when a question arises can be tricky because of constantly changing regular and on-call schedules, and perhaps uncertainty about the best way to reach someone, whether it’s on an office phone, smartphone, or pager. If the doctor is unavailable, it’s important to know who is next in line to assist.

The answer is a clinical communications platform that brings together the staff directory, web-based on-call schedules, secure messaging, and doctor-specific information such as availability and device preference.

Integrate Your EMR With Your Communications Platform

For a communications system to be effective so that individuals can easily locate the person they need to speak with, it needs to include directory, scheduling, and device preference data.  A good communications system also needs to operate using industry standard protocols, such as HL7, for easy integration with other systems in the hospital, especially the EMR.

Make Finding the Right Doctor Easier

Locating the right doctor can be a big challenge if on-call schedules are out of date or contain erroneous information. In a survey of hospital informatics professionals, 62 percent cited managing on-call schedules as a top concern (Spyglass Consulting Group Health Care Study: Spok Secure Messaging Survey, September 2013).

When urgent requests are sent to the wrong doctor because contact information is incorrect, the result is a potential treatment delay—time a patient may not have. The solution to this problem is a centralised, web-based on-call schedule. The on-call schedule should be readily accessible to authorised staff, pull contact information from a well-maintained directory and integrate with additional tools such as secure smartphone text messaging and escalation procedures.

A Hospital-Wide Schedule Helps Staff Make Contact

Web-based, on-call software provides up-to-the minute information that allows password-protected access to the latest schedules for doctors and other staff.

  • Web-based on-call schedules can be accessed by any authorised staff, including clinicians and contact centre operators.
  • Easy access to schedules and contact information means urgent messages get where they need to go quickly. Time isn’t lost waiting for a response from the wrong person.
  • Quick access to information cuts down on wasted search time for doctors who need to find out who is on call and how to reach that person. Also, once the correct provider is located, you can send a message right from the directory.
  • Robust solutions enable doctors to input exceptions so users can forward their on-call to another provider during specific days and times (for example, while in surgery).

Besides having up-to-date contact information, additional benefits of an online, on-call schedule include integration with paging and secure texting applications that can automatically route messages not only to the correct provider, but also to their preferred device.

Use Preferred Devices

Communicate With Doctors on the Devices They Prefer

In the hospital environment, there is no one-size-fits-all communication device. Smartphones, tablets, desk phones, voice badges, pagers, Wi-Fi phones, and email systems are all useful in certain situations. Smartphones are convenient and offer a choice of useful medical apps, while pagers add an increased level of reliability and message delivery assurance when cellular service is not available. Newer pagers can also offer encryption. The right clinical communications platform should have the flexibility to incorporate all of these devices.

Contact the Right Provider on the Right Device

For maximum efficiency and quicker patient decisions, messages should be routed to the right people on their preferred devices. An effective solution considers such factors as message priority to route a text-based or voice message to the intended recipient on his or her preferred device for that situation. Escalation contacts can be added in the event a message is not received and acknowledged in a pre-defined timeframe.

When used in conjunction with the hospital’s online directory, a messaging preference tool will bring escalation capabilities to your current messaging environment. The tool should integrate with the database you already have in place and will layer users’ escalation preferences on top of the devices they currently use to receive messages.