4 Ways Care Team Collaboration Helps Skilled Nursing Facilities

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Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are unique in that they often house more critically ill patients than less-intensive outpatient facilities or even independent living apartments. As a result, the staff at such facilities need to be trained in specialized care to handle the difficult situations these residents present. Effective collaboration between the various care teams allows SNFs to avoid losing residents to other settings due to the lack of coordination and high turnover rates. In this article, we take a closer look at why collaboration is so important for skilled nursing facilities and what specific steps you can take today to start creating stronger team culture in your facility.

Why Collaboration Is Important

No matter how skilled your nursing staff is or how competent your physicians are, there are times when even the best-trained individuals will make mistakes. Mistakes can take several forms and range from simple judgment errors to more serious mishaps. One way to minimize the risk of mistakes and improve patient safety is through collaboration. Collaboration is “the act of working as a team with other people toward a common goal.” In healthcare, collaboration can help reduce the risk of patient harm by ensuring that team members communicate, exchange information, and assign tasks appropriately. Effective collaboration between healthcare teams’ primary benefit is preventing harmful errors. Mistakes are likely to occur when individuals are not communicating with one another. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital-acquired infections are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Team Collaboration Strategies

We’ve seen how healthcare teams can benefit from better collaboration, but what steps should you take to get started? First, it’s essential to be aware of your facility’s specific challenges and how collaboration can help address them. 

Difficult Situations: Healthcare teams are likely to encounter some of the most challenging situations in which a resident’s condition is rapidly worsening. In these instances, it’s imperative to have clear communication lines between physicians, nurses, and technicians so that each team member has the latest information. 

High Turnover: Another challenge skilled nursing facilities face is high turnover due to low pay and unbearable working conditions. In these cases, collaboration can help alleviate the stress and prevent burnout in staff members, who may otherwise choose to leave nursing or move to other fields.

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When care team members work together effectively, they can better identify and address patient needs. It improves patient outcomes, including reduced hospital readmissions and fewer medical errors.

Care Transition Collaboration

When a patient is nearing or has passed the end of life, there may be a number of care transitions that need to occur. A care transition is “an event that alters or changes the way that care delivery occurs.” Some of the most significant care transitions for SNFs are moving from care in a nursing home to an inpatient facility and from an inpatient facility back to a community setting. Effective collaboration during these transitions can help minimize confusion and ensure that all parties have all the information they need to make the best possible decision, such as where a resident should go for care or what medications should be used to manage their condition. It can also make it easier for families to make the transitions needed to happen for the facility to complete the move.

Staffing Collaboration

Another key area where collaboration can make a real difference in staffing. Nursing facilities often need help with staffing due to problems attracting qualified staff to the field, particularly in critical care or medical/surgical units. Collaboration can reduce the risk of miscommunication and eliminate confusion between staff members during staffing decisions, such as where to assign which duties. 

Improved staff morale: When care team members feel that they are part of a cohesive team, they are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and to have a positive attitude toward their work. It can lead to improved staff morale, which can, in turn, lead to better patient care and a more positive work environment.

Coordination Collaboration

In addition to the care transitions and staffing issues already mentioned, another key area in which collaboration can make a difference in coordination. Some of the most common causes of medical errors in healthcare are a result of confusion between members of a care team or between the patient and their care providers. Effective coordination between healthcare teams can reduce the risk of such errors. For example, a patient may present with a particular symptom that triggers an alarm in the staff member’s head. This alarm may cause the staff member to have the wrong impression about the nature of the patient’s condition, resulting in a potentially harmful misdiagnosis. 

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Enhanced communication: Effective collaboration among care team members helps to improve communication within the facility. Team members can share information and updates more efficiently, which can help to prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications. It can lead to better patient care and a more positive work environment.

Increased staff efficiency: Collaboration among care team members allows for more efficient use of staff resources. Team members can share responsibilities and work together to ensure that all tasks are completed on time. It can lead to reduced staff burnout and increased job satisfaction.

4 Ways Care Team Collaboration Technology Transforms How SNFs Communicate

SNF managers who want to reduce the number of patients admitted to readmission and reduced the cost of ED visits should concentrate on improving communication between clinicians. The clinical communications and collaboration (CC&C) platforms ensure HIPAA compliance while enabling real-time collaboration throughout every step of patient care. Improved cooperation is linked to higher patient safety, a shorter duration of stay, and higher satisfaction for patients. 

Hucu.ai HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution helps improve SNF clinical communication in four transformative ways:

  1. Facilitating Cross-continuum coordination for improved admissions, discharges, and management of transfers:  

With Hucu.ai messaging App, SNF staff can connect to referring facilities during the referral or when discharged individuals from SNF and return them to their primary care physician. The risk of medical errors is reduced since the patient’s information is automatically incorporated into provider-to-provider messaging, ensuring the continuity of information. In addition, SNFs that partner with home health agencies may use the Hucu.ai Telehealth application to connect with patients via secure video visits to the doctor (voice or video) as well as appointment reminders and follow-up on medication.

  1. Facilitating greater collaboration between care teams within the nursing home skilled facility

With the capability to integrate the complete staff directory and staffing schedules, Care teams can find and communicate with anyone on the call care tereal-timel time via secure video, voice, or text message. By using HIPAA-compliant messages, all care teams can communicate with patients while they patient is at the SNF.

  1. The management of incoming referrals coming from hospitals
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Secure messaging allows admissions coordinators to connect directly with the person in charge of the case in a central place after receiving the referral from the hospital. The ability to communicate directly can eliminate the need for a call tag, missed phone calls, and delays in referral processes.

  1. Prevention of readmission through virtual care

Secure video conferencing, voice, and messaging capabilities allow SNF staff to swiftly schedule virtual sessions with the primary physician and consultative doctors, reducing the possibility of having to make the need for an ED visit. Images and PACs, along with videos, can be used in messages to help keep patients on their way to recovery and aid in assisting SNF to care teams to facilitate better handoffs for patients and maintain continuity of treatment.

Effective communication between clinicians is essential in delivering exceptional transitional care. Hucu.ai’s HIPAA-compliant solution bridges communications gaps within SNF workflows, ensuring the best patient and staff experience while reducing readmissions and improving the efficiency of the SNF overall.

Bottom Line

Collaboration is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to ensuring the safe delivery of healthcare. Healthcare providers must work with their patients to prevent mistakes, prevent harm, and ultimately improve the quality of care. Collaboration can reduce the risk of harmful errors in your skilled nursing facility. In addition, it can help to reduce staff stress, increase patient satisfaction, and significantly lower costs. The best way to start implementing collaboration strategies in your skilled nursing facility is by taking a step back and evaluating your current team culture. Use the five steps described above as a guide to help you do this. From there, you can work to implement the best strategies available to ensure that collaboration is a part of your everyday culture.

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