Improving Hospital Communication

The challenge of how to enhance hospital communication is a difficult one, but one that can lead to substantial rewards if resolved properly. Healthcare groups that have been able to enhance communication within hospitals have witnessed increased productivity, a reduction in costs and a higher standard of healthcare supplied to patients.

What makes the challenge of how to enhance hospital communication so difficult is compliance with healthcare sector legislation. The need to adhere with HIPAA and HITECH limits the communication solutions available to healthcare groups and how the solutions can be utilized to enhance hospital productivity and improve hospital patient communications.

A further issue is the expense – not just the cost of implementing a communications solution, but also the resources required to guide staff on how to use it, monitor that the solution is being used as intended, and maintain the solution when it is operational. In order to tackle the issues of compliance and cost, and reduce communications costs in hospitals, many healthcare organizations are adapting HIPAA-compliant secure messaging solutions.

How Secure Messaging Solutions Enhance Hospital Productivity

In order to be HIPAA-compliant, secure messaging solutions have mechanisms to guarantee message accountability. These mechanisms – together with delivery notifications and read receipts – significantly cut phone tag, saving precious time for medical workers and enabling healthcare groups to increase hospital productivity.

Other features of secure messaging solutions also help to enhance hospital communication. For instance, with secure messaging:

  • Medical workers can collaborate on patient healthcare.
  • Hospital admissions can be speeded up with secure messaging.
  • Patient discharges and post-acute care can be coordinated.

When linked to an EMR, physicians can receive lab results and radiology images directly to their mobile devices the moment they are entered into the EMR, and organize their EMR notifications on the go in order to prioritize their workflows. This facility alone helps to speed up diagnoses and reduce the number of redundant tests – and helps to minimize communications costs in hospitals while contributing to an rise in hospital productivity.

Secure Messaging Helps to Enhance Communication within Hospitals

Along with the above examples, secure messaging helps to enhance communication within hospitals in many different ways. Emergency Room and other hospital staff can ask for physician consults with secure texting, sending the physician far more information that could ever be communicated by a voicemail message – the primary way in which consult requests are communicated in hospitals.

Secure messages sent by text are quicker, more accurate and less interruptive than any other form of communication and, if the physician requires specialist guidance, he or she is able to consult the integrated on-call schedule to find which consultant is available, send them the consult request with the secure attachments, and facilitate the appropriate treatment for the patient in a timely fashion.

The ability to request physician consults by secure messaging allows the swift evaluation of patients by consultants who may not even have to attend the Emergency Room. This helps cut out admission delays and ensures that patients requiring inpatient treatment receive it quicker. Secure messaging also increases Emergency Room productivity with the quicker discharge of “treat and release” patients.

How Secure Messaging Solutions Minimize Communications Costs in Hospitals

Secure messaging solutions are cheaper to implement and maintain. They work via secure messaging apps that have a familiar text-like interface. The apps are free to install on personal mobile devices and desktop computers allowing any authorized user to communicate safely with any other authorized user within the healthcare group’s network once they have verified their identity.

Due to their familiar text-like interface, staff require little training on how to operate the secure messaging apps. The secure messaging platform is hosted in the cloud requires no on premise maintenance – freeing up the resources of healthcare groups’ IT departments – while administrators will find it easy to monitor HIPAA compliance via automatically produced access reports and compliance audits.

With no hardware to buy, no complicated software to install and few administrative resources required, healthcare organizations can improve communication within hospitals without investing huge funds. Experience has shown that the secure messaging apps have a high uptake among staff, ensuring compliant communication with no danger of a breach of PHI.

Enhance Hospital Patient Communications with Secure Messaging

Under the existing HIPAA regulations, medical professionals can exchange PHI with their patients over unsecure channels of communication provided they comply with the “Minimum Necessary Standard”. This can restrict the amount of information that can be obtained or the level of advice that can be provided, and handicap accurate diagnoses or delay treatment.

With secure messaging, it is possible to enhance hospital patient communications via a temporary web-based messaging session. The patient is given a temporary username and password which they can use to send with their healthcare supplier. This allows the secure and full exchange of PHI – including images, video and voice messaging – facilitating an accurate diagnosis and the opportunity to organize timely treatment when necessary

This telemedicine facility is not the only manner in which it is possible to improve hospital patient communications with secure messaging. With secure messaging, all of a patient’s post-acute care providers can be kept fully informed during the discharge planning process and kept up-to-date with the post-discharge procedure. Medical professionals can collaborate with a patient’s care network to increase the chances of a healthy recovery and reduce the prospect of a hospital readmission.

Other Ways in Which Secure Messaging can Enhance Hospital Communication

Some of the most noteworthy implementations of secure messaging solutions have taken place in the pharmacy sector. Secure messaging solutions not only help pharmacies adhere with HIPAA regulations, but also DEA regulations under the Controlled Substances Act. For in-house pharmacies, secure messaging solutions also meet certain requirements of Stage II and Stage III Meaningful Use.

Secure messaging can improve communication within hospitals in instances such as when a pharmacist needs to send a request for order clarification to a physician. The pharmacist can include as much personal identifying information about the patient as he or she needs to in order to resolve the issue, assured that their message is guaranteed to be received by the physician and answered quickly.

By cutting out phone tag, both the pharmacist´s and the physician´s workflows are streamlined, while patients are happier with the service they receive due to not being kept waiting while the issue is resolved. The one-text-one-reply resolution of the issue also helps to minimize communications costs in hospitals with in-house pharmacies.

Talk with TigerText and Enhance Hospital Productivity with Secure Messaging

TigerText is the main provider in secure messaging solutions for the healthcare sector. More than 5,000 healthcare group have put in place TigerText´s secure messaging solution in order to adhere with HIPAA and – as a consequence – have been able to:

  • Enhance communications within hospitals.
  • Improve hospital productivity.
  • Cur communications costs in hospitals.
  • Enhance hospital patient communications.
About Thomas Brown
Thomas Brown worked as a reporter for several years on ComplianceHome. Thomas a seasoned journalist with several years experience in the healthcare sector and has contributed to healthcare and information technology news publishers. Thomas has a particular interest in the application of healthcare information technology to better serve the interest of patients, including areas should has data protection and innovations such as telehealth.