By: Craig Badrick on November 1st, 2016


Does Your Healthcare IT Improve Communication Between Doctors & Nurses?

Wi-Fi  |  Wireless  |  Healthcare

Today’s healthcare environment demands constant improvement in patient care, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. These are the factors that enable hospitals to keep pace and thrive in a competitive landscape. So, how are these standards achieved? It all begins and ends with effective communication and collaboration between healthcare professionals.

One of the most important relationships in a hospital setting is the one between doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, there are often gaps in communication that fracture this relationship, resulting in costly errors and tangible patient care repercussions. It falls on the shoulders of IT leadership and staff to heal these communication problems with effective healthcare IT solutions.



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Common Causes for Communication Breakdowns


In a hospital setting, the sharing of knowledge is critical to patient care, and the responsibility of exchanging that knowledge falls equally on both doctors and nurses. Each one possesses important information needed by the other in order to fulfill their roles and treat patients effectively.

Unfortunately, the flow of communication between these two professions is often hindered by various factors. Some of the most common barriers include:

  • The everyday workings of hospital operations are riddled with handoffs and interruptions, which impede a smooth flow of communication between nurses and doctors.
  • Many of the in-person interactions between nurses and doctors are brief in order to maintain efficiency of care and accommodate the evolving schedules of both staff members.
  • Communication avenues are typically multidimensional and encompass multiple channels, including email, phone, pagers and digital records. Each channel has its own potential for communication breakdown if the hospital’s healthcare IT solutions are not effective.
  • Equipment malfunctions may cause messages to be lost or go unreceived.
  • Over the course of time, healthcare professionals join and leave the team, thereby hindering the process of forming solid, trusting relationships that foster efficient, routine communication.


The Effects on Patient Care  

Every breakdown in communication has a resounding effect on the level of care that physicians and nurses are capable of delivering to their patients. Emergency, routine and long-term care require a successful exchange of information between healthcare professionals.. Otherwise, you’re apt to see consequences such as:

  • Diagnosis and treatment mistakes that could significantly impact the health of patients under the hospital’s care
  • Delays in delivery of care
  • Unprofessional or emotionally charged exchanges between doctors and nurses that deteriorate patient trust and leave a lasting impression
  • Dissatisfaction and burnout of healthcare professionals, which can be felt by the patients in their care


Forging Solutions to Communication Dilemmas

The good news: There are a number of ways to improve communication between doctors and nurses, thereby preventing these negative effects on care, cost and efficiency.

For example, some hospitals have instituted mandatory bedside rounds, which allow for both physicians and nurses to obtain the same information at the same time. In other cases, unit-based care teams have been implemented to promote closeness and foster better communication between nurses and doctors.

Some of the best solutions, however, are executed by the hospital’s IT staff. It is often the responsibility of the IT team to enhance communication between healthcare professionals via technological means. When you uncover the underlying issues surrounding failures in communication, you find that a number of them are easily mended with the proper healthcare IT solutions.

Take a look at some of the ways healthcare IT professionals use modern technology to help eliminate the gaps in communication between doctors and nurses:


Voice Over WiFi

This technology is one that fosters reliable, secure communication between healthcare professionals, with the benefits of both mobility and cost efficiency. It allows for doctors and nurses to maintain voice communications within the hospital at all times.

Turn-key Technologies has implemented this feature using an Ascom handset system that features voice, text and alert capabilities. This solution is ideal for rapid-response environments, like hospitals, and is valuable in terms of improving communication among staff.

Robust Wireless Network for Electronic Medical Records

Many, it not most, of today’s hospitals rely on EMR for tracking patient and care information. As previously mentioned, this is one important way that doctors and nurses communicate with one another.

However, digital recordkeeping can put a strain on the hospital’s wireless network, causing issues with access to this critical communication. That is why it’s important for hospital IT teams to ensure a robust wireless network that doesn’t crash under the burden of EMR.


Encryption & Security

With the various forms of technology available for nurses and doctors to communicate, security of information is of the utmost importance. HIPAA requires high levels of encryption and security.

The pressure is on hospital IT staff to ensure that these standards are met so that communication can be exchanged without compromising the security of both the patient’s information and the hospital’s data.

These are just some examples of the measures your healthcare IT team should be considering in an effort to improve communication between physicians and nurses within the hospital. Using technology as the catalyst for stronger relationships and flow of information has a profound effect on patient care outcomes.

Does your hospital experience these or other communication issues? Add your insights below, and get more information by accessing your free copy of Healthcare IT Professionals: Is It Time To Invest In Better Wireless Networking?.

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