Quality medical care depends heavily on effective communication. As a result, hospitals are under increasing pressure to implement more intelligent clinical communication solutions. 

Factors driving an upgrade include:

The desire for better clinical outcomes.
Mobile-enabled clinical communications streamline workflows while giving care teams more accurate, complete and timely information. Teams thus become more responsive to patients’ needs.

The shift to patient-centric care.
Hospitals are looking to treat the entire patient, rather than just individual pathologies. This multidisciplinary approach requires highly adaptive clinical communications that can support more collaborative consultation across ever-changing care teams.

Institutional expansion.
To widen their capabilities and achieve economies of scale, hospitals are forming larger networks and making greater use of nonresident physicians. These dispersed teams need advanced clinical communications if they hope to work together effectively. As clinical communications expand beyond the traditional four walls, hospitals must also be conscientious about mitigating compliance and security risks.

Cost pressures.
Mobile communication enables care teams to work more efficiently by exchanging texts, scanning barcodes, sharing photos, logging tasks and more — all from their smartphones. These productivity gains are vital, given the changes taking place in healthcare economics.

The proliferation of shadow IT.
If hospitals don’t implement effective smartphone-based communications, care teams will figure out ways to do so on their own. Those workaround behaviors can create serious security issues and compliance audit problems.

Changing digital expectations.
Mobile technology has become pervasive. Hospitals that lag behind the rest of the world technologically may compromise their reputation and their ability to attract top talent.

These drivers and others make it imperative for hospitals to deploy more sophisticated mobile clinical communications.

Which Solution Is the Right One?

Despite the clear benefits of smartphone-based clinical communications, most hospitals have not yet implemented a solution. Several issues give them pause:

Functionality:
TigerText, PatientSafe Solutions, Mobile Heartbeat, Imprivata and other vendors offer a broad range of products. Some complement existing IT resources; others are more complete (and costly) clinical systems. IT decision-makers often struggle to determine which solution best fits their needs.

Right-sized spend:
With limited budgets, hospitals must be careful about spending. But they also don’t want to underinvest and wind up with a system that doesn’t fully meet their needs.

Security and compliance:
Because hospitals are extremely concerned with the privacy of patient information, they want to be 100 percent certain that their mobile communications system won’t expose them to additional privacy-related risks.

Three Keys to Success

The experience of early adopters highlights three keys to successful clinical communications:

1) Know your institution. Healthcare workflows can be highly complex, and care teams often have their own idiosyncratic approaches to care delivery. Hospitals also differ significantly in their appetite for change and their existing technology environments. An accurate understanding of these institutional attributes is essential for crafting a system that best suits a hospital’s needs.

2) Don’t boil the ocean. Projects with excessive scope drain resources and increase the risk of failure. Hospitals are better off taking a staged approach that delivers quick wins and strong user buy-in, providing a sturdy foundation from which to extend deployment.

3) Prioritize user buy-in. Doctors and care teams often feel that technology gets in the way. That’s why it’s important to work closely with users to get — and keep — buy-in on technology decisions across the project lifecycle.

Of course, it also helps to pick the right technology partner. Clinical communications systems can be difficult to spec, deploy and integrate. An experienced partner can navigate these complexities to ensure the project stays on time and within budget, all while achieving optimum results.

For more information on Healthcare I.T., visit CDW’s HealthcareCommunIT and check out this white paper on Forward-Thinking Clinical Mobility Management.

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