Priority #1: Improve your Organization's Communication System

One thing that defines a successful team endeavor is an effective communication system. In healthcare, this has been emphasized by numerous studies done over the years. Among the different findings, there is a consensus that certain communication procedures should be in place for the interprofessional team to ask questions or provide information and get feedback in return. There should be a common platform where ideas can be openly discussed and a way for members to assess each other’s tasks.

Taking these findings from the other end where there is a failure in communication, patients do not receive proper care and health management and they are harmed while entrusting with the healthcare team their very lives. In fact, of all injuries sustained by patients, 70% are the result of communication that got faulty somewhere along the way.

The responses below are far too common when miscommunication happens:

·         “I thought she understood me.”

·         “I don’t understand why the instruction was unclear to him!”

·         ‘I thought we agreed to…”

·         “I wasn’t made aware of…”

It is noticeable from the responses that the communication loop had not been smooth and continuous.

The use of technology in creating a shared hub for effective communication is one of the major factors in achieving healthcare team success. It also prevents medical errors and client injury as a result of communication failures. Having a common online portal available where healthcare providers could work on the same goals of improving their patient's health as well as their experience while receiving care should be every organization's endeavor.

Think about having a messenger app, a gaming tool, a notification device and a customized ‘wiki’ in one with added features which will remind you of tasks that are overdue, urgent or pending and reward you with points for tasks done efficiently in a timely manner. Ideally, this portal should be able to notify you that a colleague is awaiting a response. It should be able to show you important updates relevant to your tasks as well as to help leaders track their team’s individual daily performance.

When looking for a communication platform for your organization, check out these important tips:

1. It should ensure a closed-loop communication. No more wondering if your memo has been read or not. You get answers and feedback sooner and hassle-free, and even keep the conversation for future reference.

2. It should be able to give organizational initiatives a big thrust and exposure. No need to go to a certain corner where initiatives are written to be reminded of organizational goals because the portal keeps them readily available for access.

3. It should be able to disseminate information regarding recent changes in workflows, checklists, and protocols and indicate who have seen and acknowledged those changes. No need for alibis when a protocol is breached.

4. It should enable collaboration and communication which will prevent errors in the provision of care thereby improving healthcare delivery as a whole.

5. It must help the staff to save time by having information ready and available so that the healthcare team can focus on what’s important: client care.

6. Ideally, it should include features that will engage the team through a game-like reward system which lets members score points accordingly. This extra feature will reduce the feeling of burnout, boosts morale and drives motivation.

7. It must be able to enhance team performance to improve patient experience. This feature should be able to help build better client trust and be of great advantage on the business point of view

Having an effective communication system should be every healthcare organization's endeavor because it will take your organization’s teams to a whole new level of performance. The time to act on it is now.