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Nursing Communication Pain Points, Part 3

· Kim Tucker,

Clinical Communication – So Much More Than It Seems

It was my privilege and pleasure to spend time with direct care nurses at a renowned facility in Northern California last week discussing communication needs in today’s environment. One of their questions really hit home:

What is the difference between the texting they do every day with family/friends and true clinical texting…and why should they care?

This is an extremely pertinent question in today’s healthcare environment.  So many facilities need to replace the old phones the clinicians are currently using and the advent of using personal smartphones to text other clinicians is a growing and worrisome phenomenon.  In the rush to do something and without realizing that communication technologies are capable of impacting workflow and patient care–facilities may chose a POTS… a plain old texting solution rather than exploring the new frontier of smart clinical communication.

A clinical communication solution is about more than phone calls and secure text messaging.  It helps clinicians streamline collaboration by providing the right information, at the right time, about the right patient, in the right way. When secure messaging and calls are augmented with clinical context, that is pertinent information about the patient, clinicians can deliver better patient care with greater efficiency. Automatic patient identification can decrease mistakes and delays.

One workflow impact we repeatedly heard from the nurses is logging in to the EHR over and over again to see if new orders had been received in response to texts or voice mail messages sent to physicians.
Integrating order notifications, nurse call systems, alerts, and alarms all service to support clinician workflow and cognitive workload. A smart clinical communication system reduces the need for nurses to remember to check, but rather notifies them when events occur.

Deploying a single device strategy can decrease overhead cost of maintaining and managing multiple devices – giving IT folks fewer headaches. Decreasing the need for phone tag between nursing, physicians, and unit coordinators was a concept that every nurse in the room could get behind. A POTS is more like sticking your finger in a leaking dam…it might work for a bit, but the eventual outcome just leaves everyone wet and miserable!

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