Much has been discussed about how real-time clinical communication can improve patient outcomes, reduce medical errors and streamline clinician workflow. You may not realize, however, that better clinical communication also leads directly to higher patient satisfaction scores.
As administrators are all too aware, the HCAHPS survey puts the assessment of hospital performance in patients' hands. Patients rate the care they receive in areas such as pain management, communication with nurses, and responsiveness of hospital staff. Those results become the basis from which to compare the hospitals in their area.
Challenged with the goal of outperforming neighboring systems, hospitals are searching for measures that can impact patient satisfaction. Here are five ways that a clinical communication platform can move the needle on HCAHPS scores.
- Reducing Nurse Interruptions
Ringing telephones and beeping pagers interrupt patient encounters and shift the focus away from patients. Physicians are careful not to get interrupted while seeing patients, but hospital nurses have not been given adequate communication tools to protect vital encounters at the bedside. Asynchronous communication through secure texting allows nurses to distinguish between an urgent message that has to be addressed now versus something that can wait. The ability to let a non-urgent message wait can make all the difference for the patient in the moment.
- Improving Communication Between the Floor Nurses, Hospitalists and Specialists
When a nurse needs a time-sensitive order from a physician, the ease and speed of communication can make a significant difference in the patient’s experience. When a patient needs pain medication, it can be excruciating to wait for a desk clerk to track down a physician who isn’t responding to his pager. Through seamless messaging, integrated with an on-call management system, nurses can find the clinicians they need—immediately.
- Better Coordinated Care Between Physicians
Hospitalized patients are frequently cared for by several physicians at once. However, those physicians are rarely able to work as a close knit-team because of scheduling conflicts and the demands of their practices. They round on patients at different times of the day, and they often don’t have an easy way to reach each other directly. Patients are frequently dismayed to discover that their physicians haven’t communicated with each other, and they are frustrated when they receive conflicting information. A clinical communication platform allows clinicians to create messaging groups where they can easily update each other on the status of patient care. Every physician should be able to walk into a patient room armed with the latest information and a unified plan.
- Better PCP-to-Hospitalist Communication
Transitions of care notifications can positively impact patient care. When patients are admitted to the hospital, their primary care physicians need to know about it, and they need an easy way to contact the admitting hospitalist if they have important health information share. The patient will benefit immensely from the continuity of care between the inpatient and outpatient settings. Automated admit ENS alerts are an important evolving part of a clinical communication platform. The best ones will provide essential alerts while also incorporating measures to protect clinicians from alert fatigue.
- Noise Reduction
A patient’s hospital stay is often punctuated with overhead alerts, device alarms and beeping pagers. When a nurse can be made aware of critical results and important messages through silent notifications, patients benefit from a calmer and less agitating environment. That, no doubt, will make everyone happier.
Jose Barreau, MD, CEO of Doc Halo, is a Hematologist/Oncologist and former physician executive director of the TriHealth Cancer Institute.