Hospital Communication: Improving efficiency where stakes are highest


Amy Wagner, Principal Managing ConsultantLeading hospitals empower staff by providing them with access to real-time informationAnyone who’s ever seen a televised medical drama knows the importance of communication in a hospital. Invariably, a patient will wind up unconscious, forcing a doctor to call for a crash cart “STAT!” Nurses will rush into the room—perhaps with another doctor or two—and everyone works together in perfect unison as the doctor yells out instructions to save the patient’s life. Which, more often than not, they do. It sure makes for some thrilling drama.

Health team communication in the real world is just as critical – if a bit less primetime-worthy

What these Hollywood moments do demonstrate—granted, in a bit of an extreme way— is just how important communication is in a hospital setting. Effective communication is vital to a hospital’s operations in three distinct ways:

1.      Making the right treatment decisions. According to The Joint Commission, poor communication is the root cause of nearly 70 percent of sentinel events, so the stakes are high. While many of the decisions that doctors and nurses face are of a more routine nature, taking the wrong action can have disastrous consequences.

2. Avoiding unnecessary bottlenecks. To use an example, a nurse may tell a patient they are ready to be discharged, but due to poor communication, the patient and her family may be waiting and waiting to leave while the physician, or his designee are tracked down to actually “order” the discharge. That means a person is now taking up a hospital room they don’t need, holding up the various processes that take place once someone has been discharged, and preventing the admission of a new patient who needs the room.

3.      Boosting profitability. As with any other business, hospitals can benefit greatly from smoother operations. As the example above demonstrates, effective communication can increase efficiency, which has a direct impact on the bottom line: the more patients you treat, the more revenue you generate, and with better communication the bottlenecks that plague efficiency will dwindle.

The speed of healthcare demands quality communication that keeps everyone on the same page

A number of collaboration technologies and tools can be tapped to deliver a consolidated view of operations. By providing staff with access to real-time information, hospitals can speed up workflows and reduce delays in patient processing. And as more physicians and nurses adopt mobile technologies such as tablets, unified communications platforms can support engagement across treatment areas.

Talk to us in the comments about what tools and strategies your hospital has implemented to improve communications and processes. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about how Aspect has assisted hospitals in transforming their operations.