March 09, 2022

White Paper
13 min

Leveraging Real-Time Clinical Communication to Improve Healthcare

Evolving tools and new innovations improve experiences for clinicians and patients.

Michael Goad

Remy Morgan

Mike Larsen

IN THIS ARTICLE



Modernizing Clinical Communication with Innovative Tech Solutions

Development of the real-time health system is a multifaceted, overarching objective, and it is driving many of the decisions and investments healthcare organizations make. Clinical mobility, including the communication and collaboration on which patient care depends, is intrinsic to real-time care delivery. Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions enable clinicians to access the information and the colleagues they need, quickly and easily, while improving the patient experience. 

Mobile devices are just one aspect of an integrated ecosystem that improves care coordination. The foundational platform is a CC&C solution that integrates with core applications and with phone and nurse call systems to support secure, timely exchanges of critical information among care team members and between caregivers and patients. 

By transforming day-to-day workflows for clinicians and ancillary staff, CC&C solutions have the power to significantly elevate the quality and timeliness of care coordination. These types of improvements also have a dramatic effect on the well-being of clinicians, which is no small concern when large numbers of healthcare professionals continue to report burnout and job dissatisfaction. 

By selecting the right CC&C solutions and supporting tools, such as mobile device management (MDM) and clinician check-in and checkout processes for mobile devices, healthcare providers can achieve a meaningful shift in the quality and efficiency of clinical mobility workflows. Increases in clinical efficiency lead to less nurse toil and improved morale among clinicians, improvements worth consideration given the nurse shortage.

The case for transformation in healthcare can be traced to 2007, when the Institute for Healthcare Improvement introduced the Triple Aim. This framework set the stage for a new approach to healthcare that improves the patient experience, improves the health of populations and reduces costs. Expanding these goals to include a better experience for providers and clinicians yielded the Quadruple Aim, now the broadly accepted framework with which to drive and evaluate change initiatives.

THE GOALS OF CLINICAL MOBILITY

Integrating the well-being of healthcare professionals firmly into work processes has emerged as a key factor for organizational success.

communication

Removing barriers to communication improves care delivery and reduces employee frustration and inefficiency. Intuitive, seamless communication allows nurses and physicians to engage in real-time collaboration at the point of care.

documentation

Documentation and administrative tasks are a major barrier to productivity. Streamlining tasks and workflows can generate a measurable improvement in clinician satisfaction and patient experiences.

collaboration

Integrated CC&C solutions make it possible to access critical information, such as medical records and lab results. That leads to better health outcomes and potential reductions in length of stay.

Supporting Clinical Communication and Collaboration

CC&C solutions eliminate the logistical and technological problems that often arise when users cobble together disparate solutions. Comprehensive platforms provide multiple modes of real-time communication so that caregivers can make decisions quickly and providers can focus on strategic priorities.

THE REAL-TIME HEALTH SYSTEM

The real-time health system combines elements of electronic health records, virtual care platforms and analytics capabilities to streamline communications and clinical operations, improve patient safety and document critical results. RTHS may be a paradigm shift, but it also may sound familiar: It echoes many of the tenets of clinical mobility.

DYNAMIC DIRECTORY

Dynamic directory, or dynamic call routing, is essential for clinical collaboration. This feature uses answering rules to automatically direct a call to the correct care provider for a specific patient, based on on-call scheduling, answering service hours or other factors.

CAREGIVER TO CAREGIVER

CC&C solutions that facilitate a clear, robust exchange of information between caregivers at shift changes can be lifesaving. Texts and voice calls can eliminate paging and reduce many of the delays inherent in manual processes. Broadcast messaging enables easy communication with specific groups or an entire organization.

ROLE-BASED CALLING

This capability aligns with the shift-based nature of healthcare work by directing communications to the correct caregiver based on roles rather than individuals. Users no longer need to look at a list of names and scroll through to find the correct person to handle a specific need at a specific moment.

PATIENT TO CAREGIVER

Integration of interactive patient care (IPC) systems and CC&C platforms enables a patient to enter a request and have it sent to the correct caregiver on a mobile device. Some platforms leverage voice recognition technology to support smart assistant functionality.

ACTIVE RESPONSE

In emergency situations, CC&C platforms can send alerts directly to recipients, eliminating the need for overhead paging. This alternative reduces noise and stress in the already hectic care environment.

MACHINE TO CAREGIVER

Clinicians rely on information from a variety of sources to make healthcare decisions. Effective CC&C solutions integrate data such as bedside telemetry and patient vital signs into a single platform. They also provide high- and low-level alerts that can be sent directly to care providers’ mobile devices.

Learn how CDW’s AmplifiedTM Workspace Services can provide your organization with better communication and collaboration tools.

The Impact of Clinical Mobility and Collaboration

$760B to $935B

The amount of spending wasted by the healthcare industry annually1

$27B to $78B

The amount of spending wasted by failure of care coordination annually1

39%

The percentage of healthcare professionals who describe communication with colleagues as “difficult” or “very difficult”2

89%

The percentage of healthcare organizations still relying on fax machines2

35%

The percentage of organizations that prioritize the implementation of new technology solutions to transform work3

Sources: 1JAMA, "Waste in the US Healthcare System," October 2019; 2TigerConnect, "The State of Healthcare Communications," December 2019; 3Deloitte, "The Social Enterprise in a World Disrupted" (PDF), October 2021

Challenges to Developing and Supporting Clinical Mobility

As healthcare organizations deploy CC&C solutions, they often encounter one or more of the following challenges:

  • Interoperability: Organizations often have too many platforms and applications that do not integrate with each other. 
  • Device management: Shared mobile devices introduce identity management challenges, whereas BYOD programs require unique management and support approaches.
  • Security and compliance: Cybersecurity continues to become more challenging, reflecting the expansion of virtual care and the high value of healthcare data. Compliance with regulatory mandates such as HIPAA also creates demands on clinicians that healthcare organizations must address. 

Crafting the right solution for an institution requires expertise in the intersection of healthcare and CC&C technologies, together with a structured framework for gathering actionable information from stakeholders. Many providers engage third-party specialists to facilitate critical phases of clinical mobility initiatives. Such services may include:

  • Network assessment and optimization for mobile devices and VoIP
  • Device configuration and device retirement at end of lifecycle
  • Lifecycle management through managed mobility services
  • Financing options
  • Professional services for MDM deployments 
  • Professional services for CC&C deployments

Solutions to Support Clinical Mobility

The most successful organizations recognize that the right solutions can reinforce cultural values of resilience and adaptation.

DEVICES

Augmenting consumer smartphones are mobile devices designed for the healthcare industry, supporting features such as role-based escalation, centralized management, and adherence with security and privacy requirements. Devices can send and receive alarm notifications directly from the point of care. Direct communication allows clinicians to reduce response time, prioritize needs and improve patient satisfaction.

CC&C SOFTWARE

Platforms bring clinical communication, information and workflow together in a single, mobile-friendly platform. These tools connect the care team quickly and easily, support accuracy and consistency, and allow for individual customization. Dynamic directories and seamless application integration let clinicians access the information and alerts they need, without having to navigate discrete, manual systems.

CASES AND CHARGING

Organizations that manage hundreds or thousands of devices need dedicated solutions for storage, charging, transport and syncing. Multiport battery charging trays and cabinets ensure that devices are ready when the next shift arrives. Features that allow disinfection while charging protect clinicians and patients by removing bacteria and other microorganisms.

VoIP

VoIP provides the mobility and flexibility that caregivers need, while keeping calls secure and private. Features include videoconferencing, routing of calls to smartphones, voice-to-text translation, customization, and scheduling of messages and greetings.

SCANNING

Code scanning helps to keep patients safe; it can prevent medication errors that may cause harm and extend hospital stays, for example. For stand-alone scanners and applications on devices, electronic health records integration has become integral to mobile, point-of-care workflows.

SECURITY

Increased reliance on mobile devices as tools for clinical care, combined with expanded attacks on healthcare systems, make mobile-specific security a must. Device-based protection leverages machine learning to detect threats and avert attacks, keeping endpoints secure wherever they are.

MOBILE DEVICE MANAGEMENT

MDM solutions enhance control, security and efficiency. Role-based personas add ease and consistency to device provisioning, ensuring that clinicians and ancillary staff have the applications they need. Security features make it easier for IT staff to enforce policies and best practices, thereby mitigating risk and maintaining compliance.

ANALYTICS

Just as more information helps clinicians make better decisions, more data empowers IT staff for better technology management. Analytics and visualizations of clinical workflow solutions help staff understand and refine the deployment of solutions and proactively identify and address potential issues.

Learn about the IT solutions CDW offers to increase your healthcare organization’s clinical mobility.

Security Strategies for Healthcare

Security is always essential, but healthcare organizations face special challenges. First is the fact that stolen patient records are more financially lucrative than other types of data. The value of these data assets, combined with the rapid expansion of virtual care amid the pandemic, has increased cybercriminals’ motivation to target healthcare providers.

329 days

The average time healthcare organizations took to identify and contain a breach1

$7M

The average cost of a data breach in healthcare in 2020, up 10% from 20191

$2M

The average savings in total costs from a data breach by a company with an incident response team1

80%

The percentage of data breaches that contained customers’ personally identifiable information1

Source: 1IBM, "Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020" (PDF), July 2020

Strategies to Support Clinical Workflows

Having the right IT infrastructure in place and deploying CC&C solutions strategically allow staff to begin reaping the benefits of these tools much more quickly. A measured approach that includes input from all stakeholders and thorough training for users can increase the likelihood of successful adoption.

When implementing new solutions, healthcare providers should consider a phased approach that adds elements and capabilities gradually. The complexity of integrating new mobility solutions into workflows, and adapting workflows where needed, leads many organizations to deploy CC&C solutions on a measured cadence that is well supported by training and other resources. 

By providing caregivers with the information they need, when they need it, healthcare organizations empower clinicians for efficient, seamless communication, documentation, notification and decision-making — core capabilities for the coordination and delivery of timely, exceptional care.


infrastructure

INFRASTRUCTURE

Wi-Fi is the foundational platform for a fully optimized CC&C ecosystem. Organizations need to understand the wireless demands VoIP solutions present and ensure that networking infrastructure can support them. Integration is also key to a successful deployment, given that CC&C is a holistic solution that serves to connect clinicians with one another and with essential tools and applications. Electronic health records platforms, PBX and nurse call systems, and priority applications (such as staff scheduling software) all need consideration. Eliminating manual processes in favor of automation can significantly reduce the friction and inefficiencies that lead to poor care coordination. Dynamic directories, for example, can replace the whiteboards and spreadsheets that clinicians have used in the past. Gains in timeliness and real-time collaboration lead to enhanced care and better patient outcomes.

adoption

ADOPTION

When choosing and implementing a new solution, it is imperative to get clinicians and IT teams on the same page. Clinicians must understand the parameters set by IT staff, and technology professionals must be cognizant of clinicians’ logistical concerns and workflow considerations. Understanding the needs of all stakeholders is important, in part, because they may have varying perspectives in areas that are relevant to CC&C solutions. Successful implementations occur when organizations take deliberate steps to bring all stakeholders together early in the process. This also means obtaining executive sponsorship for clinical mobility projects. This can ensure that the right solutions are chosen and that solutions eliminate (rather than exacerbate) any organizational silos.


Story by 

Michael Goad

Remy Morgan

Mike Larsen


Learn how CDW’s Clinical Mobility Workshops can help your organization improve its clinical communication and collaboration initiatives.


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