[2023 report] The state of healthcare communications

  • This 2023 report details the latest innovations, challenges, and strategies that define the industry.
  • Unified communication is essential for improving hospital workflows, but budget constraints pose a significant challenge.
  • Addressing burnout in healthcare is critical for both IT executives and clinicians, with leadership support and technology solutions as potential remedies.
  • Healthcare professionals are embracing diverse communication devices, with pagers remaining popular.
  • Most healthcare organizations plan to resume IT projects within the next 12 months to enhance patient care.

Spok has conducted annual surveys of healthcare professionals since 2011 to gauge how clinical communication is managed in their organizations and to identify the trends, challenges, and predictions shaping this vital aspect of healthcare. The 2023 survey reveals three key insights that offer valuable information to help the healthcare industry address its most pressing communication challenges and guide planning efforts in the coming months and years.

Read the report to find out why: 

1. Unified communication is essential for modern healthcare

A centralized approach, rather than a siloed one, is pivotal for improving hospital communications. This approach streamlines workflows and mitigates clinician burnout by optimizing access to clinical information. This year, 75% of healthcare leaders emphasized the significance of secure messaging as the key component of a clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) platform. The second most popular feature is “On-call scheduling,” with 61% of respondents highlighting its importance, underscoring the importance of effective scheduling systems in clinical settings.

For the fourth consecutive year, respondents identified budget and resource constraints as the primary obstacle to advancing hospital communications. Consistent with previous years, this obstacle far outranks all other challenges in advancing hospital communications.

2. Addressing burnout is imperative

Though the healthcare industry acknowledges burnout as a significant issue, more proactive measures are essential. Nearly 70% of IT executives reported that they experienced factors contributing to burnout “a great deal” or “considerably” – the most affected group in 2023. Clinicians were not far behind, with almost 60% indicating high levels of burnout. This year’s data highlights the continued importance of addressing burnout in the healthcare sector, affecting everyone from top executives to staff members. Support from leadership, better pay, and improved work hours, combined with technological solutions like enhanced Electronic Health Record (EHR) usability and mobile technologies, all can play a pivotal role in tackling this challenge.

3. Diversity in communication devices remains relevant

The healthcare sector recognizes the importance of versatile communication tools. While smartphones continue to be the most supported device for clinical communications, there was a continued decrease in their usage. This decline could be attributed to both security concerns and cost implications. As the needs of the healthcare IT industry continually evolve, the role of smartphones might be redefined in light of emerging technologies and shifting operational requirements. In 2023, 81% of respondents reported using pagers for secure hospital communication, highlighting their reliability and cost-effectiveness compared to other communication methods. Adapting to new technologies while retaining crucial existing devices ensures efficient communication across all roles, which ultimately benefits patient care.

What’s next for healthcare organizations

In the rapidly evolving world of healthcare, understanding the motivations, sentiments, and future trajectories surrounding communication technologies is crucial. Approximately 60% of respondents intend to resume IT projects within the next 12 months, signifying collective optimism and a plan to get most of these projects back on track relatively soon. This also recognizes the importance of IT projects to improve healthcare operations and patient care.

For one-fifth of respondents, “Cost savings” is a primary motivation when considering new communication technology in hospitals. Motivations related to patient care, such as “Improve patient safety” and “Improve patient outcomes,” also rank prominently. This indicates that while cost is a concern, ensuring the quality and safety of patient care remains paramount.

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