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Unified Communications Can Improve Outcomes for Hospital Emergencies

March 30, 2015 by

It would be difficult to exaggerate just how important communication tools are for organizations of all kinds. If a firm cannot enable effective communication among personnel, there's little chance that it will be able to achieve, much less exceed, its goals.

For some firms, failures in this area will just translate to subpar sales or unsatisfied customers. In the health care sector, though, the stakes are much higher. And nowhere is this more true than the emergency room.

That is why hospitals should make it a priority to deploy unified communications tools throughout their emergency departments, as InformationWeek recently highlighted.

Communication Problems

To emphasize this point, the news source pointed to a 2005 Joint Commission study which found that for the 10 years prior, poor communications were responsible for more than two-thirds of all negative events in this area among U.S. hospitals. Technical mistakes, often thought of as the bigger issue, accounted for only one-fifth of negative events.

Hospitals continue to struggle in this area today. The source explained that numerous hospitals have encountered communication problems, especially in the realm of electronic medical records.

The Right Tools

According to InformationWeek, these issues can be boiled down to a lack of effective tools and misguided strategies. Put simply, communications in the emergency department should encourage and improve interactions in three areas:
  1. Between emergency department staff
  2. Between these staff and their patients
  3. Between these staff and other hospital departments
Furthermore, the source provided advice as to how hospitals can achieve these objectives. Critically, communication has to be centralized, coordinated and symmetrical, and it must encourage inclusion. The right UC system can and will address all of these issues. UC, especially mobile-enabled UC, will allow emergency department personnel to engage with one another, colleagues, and patients instantly through whichever channel would be most useful in any given situation.

The Right Approach

However, to maximize the benefits of UC in the emergency department, it is essential for decision-makers to embrace the right approach to UC selection and adoption.

First and foremost, these leaders should get complete buy-in from all emergency department personnel. UC deployments are always more successful when users are brought in from the very beginning, providing input to ensure that the most useful, valuable solution is chosen.

Then, once the UC service is in place, department leaders need to strongly encourage doctors, nurses, and other personnel to actually make use of the available resources. This will be easier if these individuals helped to choose the UC solution, but even in that case there will still be resistance to widespread use. Leaders can mitigate this obstacle by regularly demonstrating how effective UC tools have proven in other emergency departments, as well as by tracking results in the hospital itself.

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