Moving away from legacy communications platforms to systems with a deeper intelligence layer is a challenge for most industries, and is compounded for healthcare providers by the core needs for security and reliability when transmitting sensitive patient information.
We’ve previously looked at the opportunities available for transformation of healthcare provision, and the challenges, particularly financial and cultural which are slowing the pace of change. We’ve also looked at the opportunities for better patient communications in improving the DNA rate for patients and cutting the costs involved with missed appointments. Let’s take a look now at the potential for improving staff coordination through effective communication.
The costs of antiquated legacy communication systems.
Accenture research suggests U.S. hospitals could “waste” approximately $12 billion annually due to poor communication among care providers.
Healthcare providers across the globe face the same challenges, especially in hospital systems, the last bastions of fax machines and pagers.
One of the key challenges hospitals face is the manual process of identifying and contacting available resources to meet shift requirements. For many shift administrators, this still involves working through a spreadsheet of contacts, identifying staff that fit the shift requirements and manually calling through to check availability.
For remote care, there is the added challenge of knowing where and when patients need to be visited, and being able to effectively confirm attendance, or escalate to further assistance when needed.
Overcoming the objections to a messaging automation platform.
The ideal state for facilitating shifts (in-house and remotely) is a rostering system connected to an intelligent messaging platform which can route messages to and from every candidate, matched to their skills, location and other related preferences. Staff can accept or reject the request, and the system will keep trying to contact resources until the shift is filled. If an adequate response hasn't been received by a set time, the process could be escalated to another contact channel, or a human operator to complete the process. Cost, security and reliability, however, have typically been limiting factors to progress in past, but here are some key ways that modern messaging platforms are helping to overcoming these concerns:
- Cost of adoption: as with any new technology, the initial cost of purchase or project development, the lengthy lead time to develop, and the risk of project failure, are barriers to adoption. SaaS delivered software and platforms - including communications suites - have become the new standard for sourcing capabilities, and can be implemented quickly and affordably, with significantly reduced project risk.
- Contact accuracy: best in breed systems can accurately match staff attributes to the shift requirements, such as location, skills, and route messages. Self-service portals are also available, which give staff the ability to update their contact information to ensure these are kept up to date. Alternately, messaging platforms can be synced to contact databases, via API, to achieve this programmatically.
- Multiple technologies to manage: giving staff another tool they need to learn and master impedes uptake, and adds to the risk they won’t be supported. Rather than adding a tool, though, modern messaging systems can combine these communications streams into a single platform, and send messages on multiple channels, including voice, SMS, Social Media, Rich Messages or email, to improve the rates of delivery.
- Message security: keeping patient information private is a paramount concern, and has been a limiting factor in the past to updating communications tools, hence the continued use of fax and pagers. Best-in-breed systems come with encryption and other security features baked in, to give administrators the confidence to embrace these new communication options.
Streamlined shift communications in action - Warrigal Aged Care.
Warrigal deliver aged care services in residential care homes, community villages and for those who live in their own home, throughout the Illawarra, the Southern Highlands and the Southern Tablelands of NSW
Their legacy messaging system was unable to meet the needs of effectively coordinating their dispersed network of care providers. Missing a scheduled appointment can have devastating consequences for patient care, so Whispir was chosen to provide a more reliable, cost effective, and simple to use platform support this vital work.
Community Services Coordinators are able to broadcast a message to advise field medical staff of updates and changes to their rosters, postings & cancellations and can now monitor & report on messages sent, with the convenience of sending via SMS.
Internally, this helps deliver the most efficient use of their staff complement, with resources assigned in the best way to ensure that key functions are covered.