William Gibson, the award-winning novelist, coined the phrase “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.nurses discussing clinical communications and mobility strategy

The enterprise mobile movement is clearly underway and the industry appears to be getting into a stride, but many healthcare organizations have not deployed a clinical communications or mobility solution (yet). My hunch is, however, someone at your facility is asking, “What’s our enterprise clinical communications and mobility strategy?”

This post explores a few platform perspectives for your consideration as your mobility strategy develops and evolves.

Integrated clinical context

If you ask your clinical staff what type of information they most frequently communicate and to whom, you’ll quickly find how much clinical context matters. It’s difficult, inefficient and error-prone to expect clinicians to manually type and text patient information and supporting context. Perhaps this is one reason why non-integrated solutions struggle to be adopted post-deployment.

Many communication strategies today seem to seek vendors who have tight integration with EMR, telephony, scheduling/assignment, and alert system technologies. Creating valuable patient and clinical context that accompany the communication – without having to manually type it in – seems to be directionally the way most strategies seem to lean. The perfect compliment to that contextual and multi-modal communication is a single inbox. One inbox unifies the various modes of communications – text, voice, alerts – and creates message prioritization benefits and end-user simplicity.

Work platform

When it comes to workflow, it’s important to evaluate your organization’s current state. This often starts by performing workflow, environmental, and technology assessments alongside common communication patterns between roles and departments. This will help you understand how communication is accomplished today, for what purpose, and identify gaps and key areas for improvement. 

Understanding the relationship between use cases, context, communication modes and workflow not only can make a difference in how work is completed, but also in satisfaction to your front-line clinicians, physicians and patients. Additionally, the opportunity to look at closed-loop communications and communications + task/action becomes an interesting area to consider in terms of how that technology could be applied to impact operational efficiency, patient care and outcomes.

Several examples of where communication and workflow tools have been impacted include pain management, rapid response coordination, enhanced transport handoffs, improved rounding and satisfaction, and faster turn-around time for lab test-to-result. As you explore this area further, you’ll find that very few vendors truly offer integrated communications and workflow platforms. Those systems don’t offer toolkits needed to intermingle communications + tasks/actions to deliver results.

Health system grade platform

Few communications vendors can manage all hospital departments and roles adequately when it comes to communications. While many offer a directory service, when it comes to integrated clinical data access, assignment, site directory access and workflow privileges, the solutions often do not scale. It’s important that the foundation and platform is something you can build upon and scale inside and outside the hospital four walls, as well as across multiple facilities. This might not be as obvious a consideration at first, but a vendor’s support for multiple facilities, locations, roles, users, patients, assets and workflows can be a liberating choice – or one that holds you back.

Care coordination

Even as care teams and locations change throughout the patient journey, the requirement and goal of coordinated care remains. The ability to contact and communicate with the current care team and support care team transitions should be a key consideration, especially considering the future is here and the increased focus and shift of care venues from hospital-to-home is required. Consider your organization’s needs for acute and post-acute care team communications and patient-centric care coordination so you don’t accidentally end up in a ‘technology cul-de-sac.’

As the strategy for clinical communications and mobility begin to encompass enterprise platform capability, workflow engines, clinical context and care coordination decisions, you can rest assured that your organization doesn’t need to try to ‘eat the elephant’ in one bite. It’s simply worth considering the journey and selecting a platform to build upon – for the future – as you consider your clinical communications and mobility strategy, today.