Clinical Collaboration and Communication Platforms

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In Gartner’s design of the future of patient communication, a critical tool in the vision is the Clinical Collaboration and Communication platform. (also known as the smart phone tool.) Arguably, the decision around this tool is the most important of all the components of the future of patient communication. Simply stated, it can be used to improve a legacy environment or enable the new environment. Additionally, it touches every aspect of the patient journey.
Many health systems are introduced to this market space as they research how to replace their caregivers’ legacy wireless phone. Their goal is to answer the question: “Can I replace my aging wireless phone (Cisco, Ascom, Spectralink) to a smart phone? And what other benefits will I receive?” This is a logical progression, just as it was a logical progression for health systems to move from pagers to wireless phones in the early 2000s. The expectations of the care team for user experience with communication devices will continue to mirror the consumer world.
When we added wireless phones to the care environment, the goal was to maximize efficiency and reduce workload. However, many people failed to realize the significant changes that this new model would create in a care environment. Eliminating the bat belt shifted the workload, but failed to answer the question, “Are we moving an existing workflow problem from one device to another?” Prior to the next migration, that question needs to be answered by your care team – aka the users. (Additional references are available in this article in BRM Institute and Clinical Informatics for more thoughts on this subject.)
Hospitals should consider stating a goal for their CC&C adventure, such as: To unify the communication of all care team members – both internally and externally – who impact the patient journey and deliver on the health system’s promise as related to patient experience.
“Connecting caregivers inside and outside the hospital with a complete healthcare communication platform is critical to the quality of care provided,” said Trey Lauderdale, Founder and CEO of Voalte. “It’s important to understand the full capabilities of a platform and its ability to not only connect care teams, but also how it integrates with other systems such as middleware and EHR so that it creates a complete communication ecosystem.”
While the market space is often viewed (and purchases are often made) from a silo perspective depending on user (doctors, nurses and external users), it should be reviewed from a three-pronged perspective and a future-facing thought process.
Clinician Enablement: Clinician-focused for internal acute care communication and notification. This includes alerts, alarms and notifications in addition to voice. The most important component of this view is text messaging. While commonplace for those of us in the consumer world, the ability to text between parties is newly available within the acute care facility. (Welcome to the 21st century.)
Physician Engagement: Physicians wield a lot of power within a health system, so providing a tool that can be leveraged by hospitalists to coordinate care of their patients is imperative. The challenge is a lot of tools do little pieces of the overall scope of the job. The ability to expand and consume various abilities within the CC&C platform such as video consult, location and referrals will be critical to the growth of this area of the market. Additionally, enabling this portion of the platform to document practice will enable the platform to capture charges.
Secure Texting: All areas of the health system and care continuum will be better enabled as secure texting expands throughout the patient experience. While secure texting is a component of the first two areas, it has a life of its own in the patient journey. This includes communicating with surgeons pre- and post-surgery, engaging post-acute facilities to transfer patients to and from, and enabling clinics to better communicate about care.
Patient Connection: In the future, this platform can create opportunities to connect and engage patients with their care team, bringing the patient into the collaboration instead of making the collaboration about the patient. Patients’ familiarity with smart phones in the consumer space enables them to be a partner in the continuum of care. Perspective, context and real-time connection will become the hallmark of this product.
If your hospital is considering the acquisition of a CC&C platform, then reach out to us – we have a document we can share to encourage conversation around the conversion.  Additionally, you can download the Gartner paper Is Nurse Call Necessary on our website.

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