Major Hospital Communication Systems in Healthcare

Hospital Communication Systems in Healthcare

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Due to advanced technology, there are numerous types of hospital communication systems in healthcare and many different ways in which they are used. Some are more useful than others.

In the mid to late 20th century, the healthcare industry went through a vast expansion. Between the years 1955 to 2000, the amount spent in U.S. healthcare went up from 5% of the Gross Domestic Product to a whopping 13.4% because of the introduction of the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Since then, the growth rate was slow at the start of the 21st century, and healthcare spending accounted for 17.7% of GDP before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the previous expansion also propelled advancements in healthcare information technology.

Brief History of Healthcare Communication Issues

At the time when Medicare and Medicaid were introduced, it became expensive to collect and manage medical records using computers. As a result, only large hospitals could afford to develop electronic healthcare information management systems. These systems were great for managing medical records and generating bills but did not improve the communication between healthcare providers. The systems also did not have standard safety protocols and had several security issues. According to the Institute of Medicine, the absence of interoperability, major security issues, and high cost were highlighted as significant barriers. As a result, many hospitals and healthcare organizations were not implementing similar systems.
With the passage of time, even when healthcare information technology became cheaper, and a federal plan was introduced to incentivize the use of EHRs (Electronic Health Records), the U.S. did not see much improvement in communication between healthcare providers or between healthcare providers and patients. Between 1985 and 2008, there were more than 200,000 malpractice claims, and an analysis found that a lack of communication was the main reason behind negligent care.
Hospital Communication Systems in Healthcare

Solutions Arise for Communication Issues

In order to resolve communication issues, improve the quality of healthcare services, and improve productivity, many technology solutions began to be introduced. Some of these solutions are for doctors to process referrals or for team members to collaborate on a patient’s healthcare, like Hucu.ai. Others are for pharmacists to process prescriptions and for patients to understand aftercare routines post their discharge. Beyond communications related to direct patient care in hospitals, there are many technological solutions that streamline the receipt of lab results, patient transfers, insurance payments claims, and non-medical internal communications (included in the communication plan of the CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule). Normally, all communication solutions can be divided into three distinct categories:

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  1. Provider to provider communication systems
  2. Provider to patient communication systems
  3. Emergency alert and notification systems

Provider to Provider Communication Systems in Healthcare

This communication system category includes all solutions used for collaboration, referrals, issuing prescriptions, transferring patients, processing payments, and receiving lab results in a hospital. This category of hospital systems is scrutinized most for compliance within the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In most cases, the provider-to-provider communication systems in healthcare have to follow very strict guidelines to ensure the integrity of data. Typically, they have to have mechanisms that will log users out of the system after a certain period of inactivity. They are also typically used within organizations and not shared across healthcare providers and settings. This results in very limited reach and accuracy of information.

Provider to Patient Communication Systems in Healthcare

There are many different types of provider-to-patient communication systems used in a hospital. More and more hospitals make patient portals available for sharing communication with doctors and hospital teams. Unfortunately, these are often not user-friendly or flexible enough to connect with multiple providers efficiently. In some cases, SMS appointment reminder systems or advanced telemedicine solutions can be integrated with EHRs. Usually, these systems are not required to have the same technological safeguards that provider-to-provider systems need to have. Still, they do have to be used in compliance with HIPAA and after getting the patient’s consent.
Then there are different types of patient-to-provider hospital communication systems. These include clinical consultation services by secure email and nurse call systems which alert providers of any change in a patient’s conditions. Some advanced patient-to-provider systems can even be linked with EHRs to automatically update medical records. These don’t have to be HIPAA compliant per se but have to be used in compliance.

Notification Systems

According to the above-mentioned CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule, first issued in 2016, all hospitals and healthcare organizations following receipt of Medicare or Medicaid payments have to implement an Emergency Plan. This Plan must include a system in the facility that will contact staff and other healthcare personnel that is ‘well-coordinated within the facility, across healthcare providers and with state and local public health departments and emergency management agencies.”
The federally mandated notification and emergency alert systems can be configured to address internal communication issues, improve the quality of healthcare and further enhance productivity by dividing personnel databases in order to create messaging groups.

A Single Solution for All Types of Hospital Communication Systems

There is hardly a single system that can provide a single integrated communications solution that will serve every purpose of communication in a hospital. The log-out mechanisms in provider-to-provider systems make them impractical for emergency alerts. The capabilities of provider-to-patient systems or patient-to-provider systems often do not support mass notification.
Hucu.ai is a HIPAA compliant, person-centered text messaging application that brings together healthcare team members, patients, and family members in a digital room. Healthcare applications like Hucu.ai are built for effective healthcare communication and to improve patient-centered care.
Hucu.ai supports provider-to-provider communication and interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. Healthcare professionals can create ‘channels’ in the app and communication instantly, remotely and share information, lab reports, reports, images, videos, and more. The app is protected with fingerprint scan and pin code, and it supports provider to patient and vice versa communication. It has separate channels for different patients that work as distinguished threads in which healthcare staff, family members, and nurses can communicate.
Hucu.ai covers the notification systems as well. Healthcare professionals can create a group or a channel for emergency announcements. All healthcare officials have to do is have pre-set template messages which they can type into the channel, and Hucu.ai will notify everyone in the same instant.
Hucu.ai can help staff share information no matter where they are and at any time. This can help providers care better for their patients when they know that the information they need and support is just a touch away.

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