Communication is the keystone of patient-centered healthcare. Effective communication is vital to meeting patient expectations and needs. Healthcare can be positively transformed only if it is facilitated by effective communication both vertically (top-down, bottom-up) and horizontally (across the field of care delivery).
It calls for more than having an open-door policy among operational leadership. It requires encouraging caregivers, managers and patients to make good use of communication. It also requires a continuous and intentional effort to intertwine communication best practices into the organization’s culture, consistently appraise the effectiveness of these practices using workforce and patient surveys, and hold teams/individuals in the organization accountable for their roles in communication excellence.
To accomplish this, it is important to acknowledge that the way in which information is passed on is as critical as the information itself.. That is because care delivery includes numerous encounters with providers, departments, facilities and interactions with numerous administrative and care professionals of different backgrounds with different training. Each contact involves an exchange of information whether it is between or among caregivers or between caregivers and the patient. In order to be really effective from administrative, clinical and professional perspectives, the information shared has to be accurate, clear, and thorough. And it has to be shared with an open, honest and compassionate technique.
Multiple evidence-based studies support the fact that good communications are a crucial competency skill for effective value-based patient-centered care. These studies also link improved communication to safer work ambiance, better patient outcomes, fewer undesirable events, shortened patient stays, and reduced transfer delays (Disch, 2012). One study (King & Hope, 2013) shows continuous positive associations between caregiver communication attitudes and patient outcomes including better patient understanding, recall and adherence to therapy.
The quality and extent of caregiver’s communication with their patients and with one another has also proven to affect care experiences. For example, good and effective communication among care team members as well as with their patients and families is more likely to result in those patients recommending the organization to others and rating their own care experience very good. (Fulton, Malott, & Ayala, 2010)
Another research study (Press Ganey, 2013) highlights the fact that nurse communication is of critical importance. When hospitals and care facilities improve nurse communications with the patients, they find better outcomes in patient experience metrics such as receptiveness of hospital staff, pain management, medication communication and overall patient experience.
Furthermore, communication is also a keystone of workforce engagement. Effective and strong communication between healthcare teams has been proven to positively influence the quality of professional relationships, employee morale and job satisfaction (AHRQ, 2017). Another study (DiMeglio et al., 2005) shows reduced nursing staff turnover when there is clear communication about work responsibilities and task division.
Putting all of this evidence together, we recognize the importance of communication and that when healthcare professionals communicate effectively – passing on important information in a timely manner that is easily understandable, clearly giving out instructions and answering questions in depth and thoughtfully – they deliver high quality patient-centered care. Moreover efficient and effective communication improves cost of care..
Why is effective communication so important in patient-centered care? Because when there is poor communication among care teams, with patients, families and post-acute care facilities at discharge, there can be confusion in follow-up care and medication which can lead to needless readmissions and avoidable litigation. One study (Senot, Chandrasekaran, Ward, Tucker, & Moffatt-Bruce, 2015) used six years of data from almost 2,800 acute care hospitals and found that communication between caregivers and patients has the biggest influence on decreasing readmissions.
By educating patients at discharge plus giving specific and clear discharge instructions to post-acute care facilities, hospitals can reduce preventable readmissions and increase patient satisfaction as well as their operational bottom line. In addition, using these evidence-based best practices can also increase the effectiveness of communication and improve outcomes:
- Having a comprehensive provider/team communication strategy including a standardized communication tool like SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation) technique to facilitate effective communication about patients.
- Providing communication skills training to the staff. Good communication is not natural, it needs to be taught and practiced because the ability to explain, listen and empathize can affect relationships with patients and colleagues.
- Having a leadership that is open about communication and supports it within the organization’s structure.
The fact that communication influences the quality, safety and experience of care, aligns with the research that links these areas of performance to the patient-centered care. It is also consistent with the research that shows that the successes of these elements are interrelated and affect the financial outcomes of an organization. But is there a specific communication tool which brings together all elements involved in providing high-quality patient-centered healthcare in one place and facilitates their communication? Is there a tool which enables one to many, multi-directional communication (top-down, bottom-up, across divisions and within the organization) to achieve the optimal level of effective communication?
This is where Hucu.ai steps in. It is the single, most powerful communication tool that was built specifically for patient-centered healthcare to achieve the most effective HIPAA compliant communication. From getting hospital referrals to discharging patients into homes and everything in between – Hucu.ai is one patient-centered messaging solution that connects care teams internally and externally with outside partners, and helps avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
Hucu.ai on a mobile device, can replace all traditional silo communication tools: faxes, email, text, phone, voicemail). It centralizes all communication – 1 to 1, many to many and patient-centered direct. Hucu.ai streamlines communication between providers and facility staff by allowing them to communicate in the context of each Patient-Channel, with each other in 1-1 Direct Messages & within internal and/or external Groups through Collaboration Channels.
Hucu.ai is great for identifying, engaging and retaining employees. Staff turnover can be improved by supporting team members through continuous communication and recognition. It allows for recognition of high performers by delivering honor points from peers and colleagues. It enables easy communication virtually so the staff is always updated, supported and empowered with real-time information.
Here is one of the many success stories of facilities that implemented Hucu.ai and increased the effectiveness in their communication overnight.
Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging (CCAAA)
Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging is a non-profit in central Pennsylvania that supports the maximum independence of older adults . Their comprehensive array of services enhances the quality of life of older adults through coordinated community partnerships and initiatives that support and educate members in the community.
Here are the challenges faced by CCAAA in their communication and improvements from implementing Hucu.ai in their facility.
Problems Faced before Hucu.ai
Solutions Achieved after Hucu.ai
There were numerous rehospitalizations and negative consumer outcomes
Availability of analytics and real-time communication resulted in reduced hospitalizations
Only 10 case managers keeping track of 1,000 older adults and spending too much time
The consumer journey map tracks the history of each individual. Real time acuity scores are built from custom acuity scores from evidence-based assessments. Agency now better manages intensive caseload and develop person-centered interventions
Prioritization of cases was very difficult and time consuming.
Hucu.ai pinpoints older adults most in need of service through data driven solutions.
CCAAA needed better communication with multiple contracted service partners and to provide the level of transparency and oversight within their teams to keep the staff engaged.
Hucu.ai features multiple channels for internal and external communication. It also provides reports that track partner performance level, effectively keeping all partners accountable.
CCAAA needed a solution that fit their service model so they can meet the challenges of managing numerous older adults
Hucu.ai has been responsive to their needs to support their business goals by developing new features such as real time acuity scores and risk stratification flags.
CCAAA was using phones, text messages, emails and faxes for internal and external communication. It was unorganized and hard to keep a track of.
Hucu.ai replaced all silo messaging tools. Downloaded on a mobile device, it gives access to patient centered messaging channels virtually and in real-time. Entire team communicates with timely information. Separate patient family channels keep family members in different geographic locations on the same page.
CCAAA needed to have the ability to share sensitive information with other team members to assure seamless service and continuity of care.
Hucu.ai gave CCAAA the ability to share care plans, provide necessary updates and share photos securely without using any phone storage. Everything is securely saved in the cloud in organized channels.
There was no system of evaluating the efficiency and quality of services CCAAA network was providing to older adults.
Hucu.ai’s flag reporting enhances data collection letting CCAAA capture SDOH factors for performance evaluation. Availability of reports that track partner performance level.
“Hucu.ai is providing us with data to support our funding requests and to identify those at greatest risk.” – Kathy, CEO CCAAA
“We have better access to consumer experience data and are able to manage our team more proactively.” – Ethen, COO CCAAA
Interested in knowing more on how Hucu.ai has transformed communication in patient-centered healthcare that significantly affected the bottom lines for care providers? Check out these success stories.
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