The healthcare industry is critically reliant on effective, accurate, secure and timely communications between healthcare professionals, as this directly impacts patient safety and outcomes. Added to this, patient expectations have also evolved. How do medical professionals and organisations face the challenges of complex communication networks, and navigate strict data privacy and regulatory standards?
Let’s first examine the impacts of poor and ineffective communications, and the challenges faced within the healthcare industry.
What are the communication challenges in healthcare?
The healthcare industry is made up of a lot of moving parts and is an intricate network of providers, patients, third-party service providers, and insurers. The complexity of relationships across this network presents unique challenges that include:
- Sharing information between multiple providers involved in the patient journey
- Challenges in providing clear patient instruction via voice calls
- The complexity and volume of calls
- Adhering to strict health information privacy regulations
What are some of the effects of substandard healthcare communications?
- Medical errors: Practitioners involved in a patients’ care and treatment need to have access to data and documentation, so that any errors or issues can be identified and acted on before any adverse events occur
Waiting times: Delays and increases in waiting times can be the result of a breakdown in communications, causing patient frustration and negatively impacting their perception of the quality of care provided
Treatment errors: If patients undergo or are prescribed incorrect, delayed or unnecessarily expensive treatment, then there can be reputational and financial consequences
Patient follow-ups: Is the patient following the prescribed treatment or treatment protocol? Ineffective follow up can contribute to poor patient outcomes
Treatment recommendations: data sharing that is not consistent and timely can result in suboptimal treatment decisions and recommendations
What does effective healthcare communications look like?
In any healthcare setting, communication methods need to be evaluated regularly to ensure they are meeting the highest standards, for both practitioners and patients, to avoid high patient and staff turnover and stress.
The benefits of an effective communication strategy can include:
- Better diagnostic accuracy
- Improved patient follow up and follow through
Greater patient and staff satisfaction
Looking beyond face-to-face interactions, digital communications offer the means to communicate easily and effectively, but more on that below.
Different communication methods used in healthcare
The development and advancement of cloud communications platforms and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) have enabled the healthcare sector to transform the way patient care is managed.
Cloud-based systems allow access to the most up-to-date medical records, as well as the ability to communicate with patients and colleagues from anywhere and on any device.
Communications in the healthcare field that are supported under the UCaaS platform include:
Chat/IM, messaging and email: This provides a way to communicate in real-time across a variety of devices. Patients can be notified of appointments and questions and concerns can be addressed at any time from any location.
Voice, video, and web meetings: This facilitates a more collaborative approach with interaction and problem solving among those involved in patient care
Virtual appointment applications: This allows providers to conduct online meetings with patients and families
Patient databases: Cloud-based databases provide a safe and reliable HIPAA-compliant way for health staff to manage patient care through access to patient health histories and results
Secure online patient portals: Patients benefit by having access to their medical records and results
Healthcare data security
New devices and ways to send, receive and store information can contribute to an increase in data leaks and privacy violations. The cloud is a secure environment when it’s managed properly.
- Most cloud-based systems used in a healthcare environment are built with security as a top priority
- The system can be monitored in real-time, using alerts that flag issues and threats, so they can be isolated before they infiltrate the system
- Updates to the system are automatic and regular as new threats are isolated and identified
How Arrow and 8×8 Can Transform your healthcare communications
Arrow and 8×8 offer secure cloud-based communication and collaboration for Australian healthcare providers and have worked together to deliver communications solutions for Osana Healthcare and Physio Inc
Arrow and 8×8 can transform your business through:
Business Phone Solutions: communication in the office or on-the-go, allowing medical staff to use existing mobile devices
Unified Communications: Allows collaboration via chat, web conferencing, document sharing, text, video, and voice.
Cloud Contact Centre: Connects patients to the best person to address their needs and concerns at the right time, thereby improving the patient experience
Read more here »
Are you a healthcare services provider who wants to take advantage of the latest in digital innovation?
Arrow is one of Australia’s largest privately owned telecommunications companies. our IT solutions, communication tools and technologies are scalable and future proof. Call our locally based, friendly customer service team, to find out how we can deliver the best cloud communications solution for your healthcare organisation.