Healthcare workflows, especially those in a hospital setting, form a bit like rivers. The source of the river carries water downhill, across all sorts of terrain. Over time, the water creates a path forward, and the land gives way to it. The river channel may meander and curve, or get congested by dams, but the water eventually finds its mouth. In a hospital, workflows develop in this manner—the source of information or action moves through the hospital however it can, and over time this movement becomes habit, something informal yet nearly universal across the facility.

But, just like most rivers bend and bow, many existing hospital workflows have not been optimized to get information quickly from the source to the mouth. These workflows were formed before smartphones and often relied on physically running around the facility to find the right person, having a unit secretary play phone tag, or walking from department to department to loop in ancillary staff as needed.

Technology that helps channel this flow more effectively has historically been a barrier—is it secure? Can it integrate with our infrastructure? Will staff be able to adapt to this? Will it disrupt existing operations? These concerns have resulted in incremental technological updates and cumbersome workflows that contribute to delays in patient care and clinician burnout.

Turning the Tide of Hospital Workflows

However, recently there has been an increased emphasis on streamlining these workflows to expedite patient care and maximize staff productivity, which means all of the common sticking points for hospital workflows have been revisited. The most common processes and departments that organizations tend to evaluate are:

  • Admission
  • Discharge
  • Transfer
  • Surgery
  • Emergency department
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory
  • Radiology

This is for good reason. Each of these workflows and departments requires employees to work across units or disciplines in order to facilitate patient care. Communication breakdowns can be common in situations like these, where someone in one department is looking for information from another department, but they aren’t sure who to contact or how to contact them. Staff will often enlist others to help them in their search—perhaps a unit secretary or a nurse. They may even call a clinician’s personal phone to get the information they need. This chase eats up precious time and is mentally exhausting for everyone involved.

There are many factors that can take some of the blame for clunky and maddening workflows like these. Perhaps your organization has everyone using different communication devices: Your physicians have pagers and your nurses have mobile phones while your ancillary staff are using desktop computers. Or perhaps everyone is using smartphones, but the nurses are using one collaborative app while your providers are using a different one.

Disparities like this make it harder, not easier, for clinicians to advance patient care.

Unifying the Healthcare Enterprise

Healthcare organizations are increasingly becoming aware of this problem, and turning instead toward a single, unified, collaborative platform.

When the entire healthcare enterprise has access to the same communication and collaboration solution, physicians are able to reach the pharmacy, who can subsequently reach nurses, who can engage with the lab, all from one location, and without running around the facility.

With an all-inclusive platform, finding the right colleague to share information with goes from minutes or hours of searching and engaging unrelated employees, to simply searching a real-time directory by name, role or even by patient. And when all communications come to one platform, senders can rest assured their message won’t be missed by the recipient.

Case Study: Emergency Department workflow outlining a solution for reducing overflow in the emergency department

Take the emergency department. In a rapidly-paced environment such as the ED, it’s imperative that clinicians are able to communicate quickly and efficiently. MH-CURE makes it easy to quickly connect with clinicians occupying crucial, rotating roles such as the triage nurse – without even having to know who is filling that role this shift.

If the emergency department is at capacity, physicians can quickly find and engage executive medical staff to coordinate step-down efforts and make room for new patients in other units.

This workflow leverages a unified solution with an enterprise directory to remove a common barrier to advancing patient care.

Instant Collaboration at the Point of Care

It’s not uncommon for physicians to use a completely disparate communication system from the rest of the staff at their respective healthcare organization. From a technological perspective, administrators will sometimes silo employees who work across multiple units and facilities to avoid confusion and maintain security. But this often comes at the cost of time to advance care.

When physicians who work across multiple units and facilities have access to the same unified collaboration solution as their non-physician colleagues, they are better able to facilitate care coordination. At once, they can leverage the enterprise directory to find any employee or role they need to—regardless of whether or not they know the employee’s name—and initiate a collaborative effort that they can be confident the recipient will receive.

A unified and reliable communication platform can eliminate the common workflow problems in healthcare, such as contacting the wrong person, or colleagues who are offline or off-shift. When every communication event is directed at the correct person, physicians and patients alike benefit, and critical information can return to its natural flow.

For more information on how an all-in-one collaborative solution can streamline cumbersome workflows and improve care coordination, check out our customer success stories.