Clinician Impact

To Drive ROI, Clinical Communications Platforms Need 3 Integrations

December 1, 2016 | Adam Turinas

Hospitals and health systems are investing in secure communication platforms that encourage care collaboration and improve care quality performance. The ROI of these secure communications platforms depends on their ability to interface and integrate with other systems. Among the various clinical communication and collaboration platforms on the market, there is a wide differentiation of built-in interfacing.

Let’s examine the key ways robust interfacing and systems integration enable secure communications platforms to improve care delivery and quality.

Lab results

In care settings where every second counts, physicians and clinicians must be able to access and act on lab results without a great deal of manual intervention, which can cause delays. Delivery of lab results is a staple of most secure communications platforms. In high-volume emergency departments (EDs), lab turnaround times can have a significant impact on patient health outcomes. Slow lab result turnaround times and delays in receipt impair physicians’ ability to initiate time-sensitive treatments and interventions.

Delays in turnaround times can also result in miscommunication between care team members and ineffective handoffs that contribute to gaps in patient care. Mobile apps reduce this risk of communication breakdown by delivering lab results in real time directly to physician and nursing staff. mHealth apps that deliver lab results to attending physicians, specialists, nursing staff and other members of the care team help address all-too-common handoff and follow-up challenges.

Using the mobile apps that serve as the frontend of these platforms, clinicians can request and review lab results in minutes. Platforms with bi-directional interfacing allow these users not only to access lab results, but also to change orders by inputting additional data after the initial order placement. Clinical staff also find it useful to share lab results via secure texting, and group messaging. Using this patient-centric messaging stream, clinicians can view lab results within the greater context of the care team’s care coordination efforts.

Image Sharing

The care delivery process often requires significant amounts of communication between care providers. An ED physician may need to request the advice of a surgeon when admitting a patient. A surgeon may need to communicate postoperative conditions with an attending physician and/or specialist. A resident may need to coordinate discharge plans with an attending physician. In each of these cases an image can communicate the words that physicians and other clinical staff simply don’t have time to manually type out.

Secure communication platforms require interfaces that allow app users to securely capture images, seamlessly bypassing the smartphone’s native (and unsecure) camera function. From either the camera or messaging area of the platform’s mobile application, clinical staff should be able to capture and send one another encrypted images.

Image sharing facilitates patient-centric collaboration resulting in care delivery improvements. Care teams can show and respond to changing patient conditions, decide on treatment options and manage other steps of the care process in minutes, from disparate locations.

Communication Outside of Hospital

Home care aides, remote care facility nurses and caregivers are the eyes and ears of hospitalists before and after a patient is discharged. These members of the extended care team can use custom-configured apps that connect with clinical communication apps. With bi-directional interfacing, secure communication platforms can seamlessly alert physicians and clinicians patient data being collected remotely by home care aides, caregivers or nurses. Using the same platform as clinicians, these members of the extended care team can share encrypted images, ask questions and communicate medical emergencies via secure messaging or voice.

With the support of extended care team members, clinical staff can more quickly respond to critical changes in patient conditions occurring in the home setting, and provide escalating levels of support as needed. In this way, preventable readmissions and hospitalizations can be avoided. In instances where a patient must be admitted, caregivers can coordinate with clinical staff while patients are en-route to an urgent care or ED.

Satisfaction with platform interfacing is best measured by customer feedback and data on platform usage. Vendors with strong track records of high adoption and sustained utilization are best-positioned to help hospitals and health systems maximize their investment in care coordination improvement. Poorly designed platform interfaces hinder the ability of clinical staff and extended care team members to improve their coordinated care speed and efficiency. Secure communication platforms that have robust interfacing, and intuitive app user flows should have positive customer feedback, as well as strong user adoption and retention rates. Using these metrics, health systems can predict whether a secure communication platform can effectively encourage health care delivery improvements and cost savings.