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Hospital Communication Management

By 10 April 2024April 29th, 2024No Comments
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Hospital Communication Systems: Why Are They Important And What Can It Do?

Is the productivity of your healthcare organization not meeting your expectations?

Are you worried that your healthcare organization cannot provide quality healthcare service to its patients?

hospital claims management communication

The reason for all your trouble could be hiding behind poor communication in hospital management. Hence, all healthcare institutions must ensure that their communication systems are optimized for the best performance. 

Here, we will discuss the hospital communication system and its vital role in healthcare. We will also explain the constituents of a hospital communication system, their role in healthcare, and how to use advanced solutions to streamline communication.

What Are Hospital Communication Systems?

Before you can learn to manage hospital communication management, you need to understand what hospital communication systems are. The hospital communication system is a platform that enables healthcare providers and supporting staff to collaborate and transfer patient information.

Even a small hospital or clinic consists of multiple departments and roles, and that's without counting the affiliated medical facilities. The operations inside a hospital are also complex. Every day, the hospital has to deal with new patients, manage their equipment, administer medications, and ensure all facilities operate.

Hence, every time a hospital carries out its day-to-day operations, new information is added to its system. Furthermore, every healthcare information that hospitals possess is vital, especially to the patients. Healthcare providers use a hospital communication system for delivering patient information securely through various channels.

Common Healthcare Communication Systems

As you can guess, communication within a medical network is highly complex. Communication in hospitals involves sending and receiving information from all sides from different departments. These communications involve everyone, including the healthcare provider, the patient, and any entity that comes in between them.  

Healthcare communication deals with complex data, and individually tracking healthcare data is next to impossible. However, generally, communication in hospital comes under one of the few categories listed below:

  • Healthcare Provider To Patient.
  • Healthcare Provider To Healthcare Provider.
  • Healthcare Provider To Internal Systems.
  • Emergency Communication.

Healthcare Provider To Patient

The communication between the healthcare provider and the patient is not just limited to exchanging information between hospitals and patients. It also consists of telemedicine, website portals, and other channels connecting the patient to your healthcare services. 

Healthcare Provider To Healthcare Provider

Healthcare providers often have to exchange patient data with each other to receive the proper treatment. It enables the patient to switch their healthcare provider while ensuring adequate continuity for their healthcare. 

Healthcare Provider To Internal Systems

Every hospital or healthcare organization you can find consists of numerous machines or medical equipment. These machines help healthcare providers to provide better care for the patients and store critical patient information. 

Emergency Communication

Hospitals deal with numerous emergencies every day. As per the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandate, healthcare providers that accept Medicare and/or Medicaid must implement a four-part emergency protocol. The four parts of the emergency protocol are as follows

  • The emergency plan.
  • A well-defined set of procedures and policies for dealing with crises.
  • A communication plan.
  • A system for teaching the protocols to the healthcare staff and testing the emergency plan.

Also Read: Healthcare Direct Mail Marketing: Best Practices for Medical Mailing Services

What Are The Constituents Of A Hospital Communication System?

Several constituents are an integral part of a hospital communication system. The people, including the patient, are a part of the communication system. Additionally, the message you want to convey and the mediums or technologies you use for communication are also a part of the communication system.

Following are the major constituents or elements of the communication system used by healthcare providers.

1. Communication Channel

The communication channel is one of the significant elements of communication in hospitals. Any channel/medium the patient or healthcare provider uses for exchanging healthcare data is termed a communication channel. Hence, everything from face-to-face conversations to direct mail patient statements is considered a communication channel as long as the information is exchanged through it. 

Synchronous Communication Channels

You might have noticed that some communication channels such as telephones allow real-time two-way communication. Such communication that helps both parties exchange data simultaneously is called synchronous communication. 

Synchronous communication is ideal for your healthcare organization if you are not multitasking. Because as interactive as synchronous communication is, it is also interruptive. For example, imagine a busy doctor prescribing medication to a patient, and the phone rings to interrupt their thought process.

Asynchronous Communication Channels

Asynchronous communication channels are those channels that individuals can use when they don't need simultaneous communication. Here, the whole conversation is separated in time, and the exchange of information happens over a series of messages.

Direct mail and even email are examples of asynchronous communication channels. The asynchronous communication channels are not suitable for urgent or emergency communications. However, they are perfect if your healthcare communication is not critical and does not interrupt your healthcare service in any way.

2. Message Types

The messages you use are also an essential part of hospital communication systems. Healthcare messages are generally structured with a specific goal in mind. You can use either formal or informal statements in a communication system. 

Informal Messages

Voice and email messages in a hospital communication system are perfect examples of informal messages. It is worth noting that these kinds of messages usually have variable structures. They are created so that the reader can easily understand the message without taking a second look at it.

Formal Messages

Structured or formal messages play a vital role in improving communication in hospitals. Discharge summaries, patient statements, etc., are examples of standard healthcare messages for hospital communication. Hospitals usually outsource the printing and delivery of formal healthcare messages in print format.

However, there are a lot of rules and regulations surrounding the transfer and storage of Protected Health Information (PHI). For example, PHI is protected in the US by the HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. 

Hence, if you outsource the printing of your formal messages for your healthcare organization, you should ensure the service provider is HIPAA compliant. PostGrid, for example, is a HIPAA complaint print and mail service provider that you can use for sending formal messages like patient statements.

Need a complete guide on HIPAA compliance? Check out our blog “Complete HIPAA Compliance Checklist for 2023.”

Similarly, there are also other compliances that you need to look out for, such as HL7 or Health Level Seven standards. It is instrumental if you want to send formal messages internationally. 

3. Communication Policies

Formal procedures closely bind hospital communication systems. Healthcare organizations, including hospitals, already have specific communication policies to protect confidential patient information. 

Furthermore, hospitals may also have other policies that can significantly influence their communication system and performance. In other words, your healthcare organization's policies will impact your communication system regardless of the technology you use.

For example, let's say that your healthcare organization does not allow access to medical records without relevant authorization. Let us also assume that you have a web interface that enables the user to access the medical records easily. 

Here, even though there is the technical capability to access the medical records, the user still can't access them due to the policy constrictions. 

4. Agents

Sometimes, the different information transactions of a healthcare organization are centered around the agents. Consider a small but busy healthcare clinic that only has a single pharmacist. You can imagine how challenging it can be for the pharmacist to hand out the medications on the counter while simultaneously handling calls.

Handling phone calls to the clinic while serving serious medications to the patients can lead to some undesirable situations. For example, the pharmacist may get distracted by the phone call and confuse the medicines for the patient. 

Similarly, the distraction may also stop them from providing accurate information to the person on the other side of the phone. You can rectify such situations by introducing an agent like a ward clerk by providing you with administrative support. 

By implementing a system where the ward clerk handles all the incoming calls, you can effectively enhance the efficiency of your clinical staff. Furthermore, agents like ward clerks also have other attributes such as proficiency in specific tasks and languages.

5. Communication Services

To understand communication services in hospital communication systems, imagine the communication system as a computer. Think about how a single computer system can support or run multiple software applications. Similarly, a communication system can also provide various communications services.

For example, voice communication, including phone calls, is only one of the many communication services across telephone lines. You can use the same telephone line for faxing essential documents to a healthcare organization. 

As you can see, both voice calls and faxing documents are entirely different communications that employ the same underlying communication channel. Another example of the same can be observed in the case of mobile phones. You can use mobile phones for making voice calls and sending text messages.

6. Communication Device

Communication in hospital management requires several diverse communication devices. Any communication device used in or by a healthcare organization is part of the broader hospital communication system. 

Some of the most widely used communication devices in hospital communication are

  • Telephones. 
  • Fax Machines.
  • Direct Mail.
  • Personal Digital Assistants (PDA)

The choice of the communication device can vary depending on specific situations and tasks. For example, you usually have to use direct mail marketing if you want to send patient statements, lab reports, etc. Most people prefer having hard copies of their healthcare expenses and lab reports.

You can use PostGrid's advanced direct mail automation software for communicating with your patients via direct mail. PostGrid provides specialized direct mail services for the healthcare industry that let you effortlessly use an offline communication channel like direct mail.

Every communication device, like direct mail, is a source of innovation that continuously evolves. Today, we even have wearable devices that have become personal accessories like a smartwatch as a means of communication in hospitals. It is, therefore, necessary that healthcare organizations update all their communication devices by automating their direct mail operations.

7. Interaction Mode

Interaction mode is the way interaction is designed. Although it may not sound like much, it can determine the utility and practicality of numerous information systems. Communication is no exception, and the interaction mode plays a crucial role in hospital communication systems. 

Some interaction modes require the message receiver to pay close attention immediately. The ringing of a phone, for example, is one such interaction mode that demands the immediate attention of the receiver. 

Similarly, there are also interaction modes that allow you to be subtle and not interrupt the receiver. Take direct mail, for example. It enables you to send healthcare information to your patients without interrupting their lives. 

No alarm goes off whenever mail is delivered to an address. The recipient collects their mailer at a time and situation that is convenient for them. Hence, there are minimal interruptions when you use direct mail as part of your hospital communication systems.

Also Read: Bulk Or Mass Mail Services

Types of Hospital Communication Methods

You can divide Hospital communication into two sections. They enable healthcare organizations to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. The two communication methods of hospital communication are: 

  • Interhospital Communication
  • Intrahospital Communication

Interhospital Communication

Interhospital communication is the communication method that involves sharing information with multiple sites. Usually, this sharing of information is across the facilities owned by the same healthcare organization. 

However, it is not uncommon for entirely different healthcare organizations or entities to share healthcare information. For example, let's say that a patient wants to move to another healthcare facility from their existing one.

The existing healthcare facility will need to share two things with the new healthcare organization. One is the vital medical equipment (if there are any) so that the patient can move without any health risk.

The second is the medical records. It describes the patient's health issues and the treatment they are receiving. Patients must have their medical records transferred safely and securely to the new facility. Hence, robust hospital communication systems are capable of saving human lives.

Interhospital Communication

Intrahospital communication involves sharing of information within a single healthcare institution. It consists of all kinds of information that flows within a healthcare organization, such as 

  • Scheduling of appointments, surgeries, etc.
  • Coordinating room changes.
  • Lab test conducted for patients.

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations must ensure efficient information sharing within their respective institutions. Not doing so could affect the efficiency of individual processes within the organization. 

Apart from culminating unnecessary costs to the organization, it can also risk the patients' lives. Delay in sending or receiving medical records, lack of procedural coordination, etc., could be devastating for the patients. The only solution for avoiding such risks is improving communication in hospitals.

Bulk Information In Hospital Communication

Suppose all the information exchanged in healthcare is put into a single space. Now let's take a smaller portion of the ‘space' which only contains interpersonal interaction data, and call it ‘communication space.' 

The communication space is the part that makes up the bulk of information transactions in healthcare. It can include information from face-to-face dealings, emails, telephone calls, and much more. As you can guess, the communication space increases proportionally with the size of the healthcare organization.

Hence, the communication space forms the bulk of information the healthcare organization handles. You must manage this information in an orderly fashion to optimize hospital communication systems.

Also Read: Healthcare Marketing Statistics

Effects of Poor Communication in Healthcare

There are several ways a poor healthcare communication system can jeopardize the safety of the patient and the healthcare organization. Some of the significant effects of poor communication in healthcare organizations are as follows.

  • Poor quality of healthcare services.
  • Poor patient outcomes.
  • Wastage of resources.
  • Higher healthcare costs for the patients.
  • Poor patient experience.
  • Increased stress on healthcare professionals often leads to burnout.  

How To Improve Communication In Hospitals?

You can adopt several strategies for optimizing communication in hospital. One area that requires your special attention in hospital communications is shift handovers. Hospitals need to ensure more effective communication of information. Some of the communication models a healthcare organization can implement include

  • RELATE model: Reassure, Explain, Listen/answer questions, Take action, Express appreciation.
  • BATHE Protocol: Background, Affect, Troubles, Handling, Empathy
  • STICC Protocol: Situation, Task, Intent, Concern, calibrate.

As you might have noticed, the above strategies improve patient safety. However, hospital communication is about the patients and the staff. The sad part is that most healthcare organizations do not understand the importance of communication in hospital and its effect on their team.

Updating Outdated Communication Systems

The best way to ensure that you have an effective communication system for your healthcare organization is to update it. There is a new and more optimized communication method in the market every day.

Use modern Clinical Communication and Collaboration or CC&C platforms to improve hospital communications. CC&C solutions are text messaging platforms that come with HIPAA compliance. 

It allows all the members of your organization to communicate without risking the integrity of PHI. Additionally, it would be best to automate your communication channels like direct mail.

To learn more about the significance of automation in healthcare, read our blog “Automation in Healthcare Operations.” 

For example, you can use a tool like PostGrid for optimizing all your direct mail communications. It means you can send patient statements, lab reports, invoices, and more with the click of a button. A HIPAA-compliant direct mail automation software like PostGrid ensures the safety of your data while saving you valuable time.

Also Read: Best Direct Mail Marketing Companies

Conclusion

Hospital communication management was never easy. If anything, with the bulk data we deal with today, the importance of communication in hospitals is now more prominent than ever. Furthermore, there are so many rules and regulations that limit the communication capabilities of healthcare organizations.

The only way to improve hospital communication effectively is to update your existing communication systems. PostGrid, for example, is an automated solution that lets you optimize your direct mail communication.

The HIPAA-compliant direct mail solution from PostGrid enables you to automate sending important healthcare documents. You can send patient statements, lab reports, invoices, and much more through PostGrid.

Furthermore, PostGrid's HIPAA compliance ensures that your patients' data are always protected. Similarly, you must find new and advanced direct mail solutions that can help you optimize other means of communication in the hospital. Streamlining your hospital communication lets you provide better healthcare services to the patients and optimizes your organization's operations.