In any healthcare setting, whether it’s a large city hospital or a rural ambulatory clinic, easy-to-use communication tools and systems are essential to quickly and accurately respond to emergencies and save lives.
Yet one of the biggest sources of reduced frustration in healthcare is actually the communication system!
Poor communication systems frustrate patients and waste their time. Long patient hold times can cause abandoned calls, which can lead to a delay in care or even prompt the patient to contact another available clinic.
Patients typically want to, or need to speak to a person immediately when they call a healthcare system. If the call system is too complex, patient callers may press 0 for the operator right away. Instead of saving time, your system has worsened the patient experience and potentially wasted your operator’s time.
Sometimes when a call is transferred, patients must repeat their symptoms and re-answer questions because a hospital’s communications system doesn’t automatically sync with its EHR platform.
Poor communication systems also waste provider time and can lead to errors. Navigating an overly complex communication system means providers spend less time caring for patients. And if the hospital’s communication software isn’t interoperable with other systems, medical staff can experience a delay contacting others on a patient’s care team.
For a communication system to be user-friendly, it needs to be:
- Easy to learn. Even the least technologically inclined staff should feel confident using any type of communication tool.
- Easy to teach. When you’re choosing a communications system, ask about the length of time it takes to train a new user.
- Designed for interoperability. Make sure your tech “talks” to each other. Not only will you reduce or errors, but your team will also be prepared for the upcoming proposed rule (2022) and final rule (2023) for interoperability.
- Customizable to your workflow. No two organizations are the same. Ensure that you can create your own scripts, dispatching, and code calls to give your patients and providers the information they need, when and where they need it.
- Easily accessible to operators and providers. Communication systems that include directories reduce the number of unnecessary calls to the operator. Providers can see who is on call and either page or call that person directly.
An easy-to-use communication system leads to fewer errors, better use of patient and provider time, greater efficiency, and more satisfied staff and patients.