One of the major problems facing healthcare today is a lack of healthcare professionals which, in turn, is causing a crisis in literally every aspect of patient care from that at a private clinician’s office to in-patient care at hospitals around the country. While there is a concerted effort to interest our young people to pursue a career in medicine, there isn’t enough time to raise up a new generation of doctors and nurses to fill the gap.
Hospitals are especially feeling the crunch, but part of the problem in large institutions is a lack of efficient communications and access to pertinent patient data. Actually, better communications and centralized patient data storage could help alleviate a great deal of the strain being placed on an understaffed hospital. Here are just a few ways in which hospitals can improve patient care through better communications.
Faster Response Time in Emergencies
Consider the fact that a patient enters the emergency department in crisis. Traditionally, emergency rooms have been staffed with physicians licensed in internal medicine with a specialty in emergency or trauma care. Even in large hospitals, this is still often the case and so when a patient enters ER in need of a specialist, the specialist on staff would be paged. However, even in the paging of that doctor, there is an abundance of information to be communicated before that physician can give an adequate response. A platform such as Spok eliminates the need to converse with ER when a call comes through because it would be entered in a centralized data bank. The specialist can quickly glance at the data, make a rapid-fire assessment and communicate quickly with the hospitalist as to what to do until they can get to ER.
Faster Access to Patient Data
When a patient is admitted to the hospital, it isn’t only the doctor and nurses on that floor who need to have access to patient data. Housekeeping and food services are two departments that would need at least a certain level of information in order to offer necessary services. Housekeeping may not be required to change linens or clean restrooms if aids on the floor are caring for a patient yet would need to bring linens and sanitizing materials if a patient has checked out. A patient on a heart healthy diet will need foods that are low in sodium, for example, so food services (the dietician) would need to access that central data bank when planning the day’s meals.
Better Access to Patient Records
With a centralized data bank and communications system, electronic charts are quick and easy to read. Gone are the days when a doctor had to try to determine what the nursing staff had notated and vice versa. Nurses could easily make mistakes, especially on medicines, if the doctor’s handwriting was notoriously poor. Now with a centralized database accessible to all departments, there is little room for error. A doctor or nurse can simply glance at a patient’s record to see where that patient stands and what needs to be done in just a matter of seconds.
In the end, hospitals can improve patient care by speeding up response times with a central data bank and faster communications between departments. Through improved communications it is easier to track what has been done, what is currently being done, and what a doctor or nurse can do to ensure that patient is getting the best care possible. Thanks to platforms like Spok, the guesswork is taken out of patient care which improves patient outcomes and offers the most efficient system in today’s healthcare climate.