Why EHRs are NOT Communication Tools


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Minutes and seconds matter in healthcare. A patient who is going through a stroke will have less chance of functional independence and a higher chance of mortality when treatment has been delayed. The same is true for other medical conditions like heart attacks or sepsis. Time is always of the essence.

A faster response can lead to better outcomes for the quality and cost of care. The key to faster response time is an effective hospital and clinical communication system. When communication is real time and contextual, it reaches a gold standard. Poor communication can lead to negative patient outcomes, inefficient workflows, and clinician burnout. Many root cause analyses show that most of the errors that cause harm to patients are caused by errors of communication. While 80% or so physicians are using EHR systems, they are not designed to be communication tools.

EHRs are Not Built for Communication

EHRs are a treasure trove of information but they are rooted in the documentation and are not purpose-built for clinical workflow communication. The implementation of EHR was supposed to streamline the management of patient data. In fact, EHRs are mainly documentation or tracking systems which clinicians can use to pull out information but that information still has to be communicated via another tool to reach collaborating clinicians quickly. EHRs systems don’t exactly talk to each other very well and so, the exchange of patient information is often slow, incomplete and inefficient. While a good EHR can be the center of information, best in class organizations complement EHRs with leading edge communication tools to manage the minute-to-minute aspect of care delivery.

For example, a physician wants to order a series of lab tests and she enters them into the CPOE (Computerized Provider Order Entry). Communication takes place so the desired samples are taken from the patient and tests are run on the samples. Results are entered into the EHR, as they are supposed to be. However, the results still need to be communicated. And it can take a lot of time for phone tags, pages, and so on to finally close the loop on this workflow. Medical information has to be communicated quickly to the right people for the most optimized workflows and operations.
Improve Clinical Communication

Two Ways to Improve Clinical Communication

The first step is to not rely on the EHR for communication. Using EHR alone for clinical communication is not a good idea. EHRs are essential for hospital operation and most include a communication feature but it is a mistake to rely on the EHR for all clinical communication. EHRs are not designed to provide the real-time contextual communication that clinicians need. Also, EHR systems exclude care team members outside of the hospital system – like a primary care physician in private practice or a family caregiver. Lastly, EHR communication features are often hard and awkward to access or use – which is why many clinicians try to devise workarounds. EHRs do not provide an easy communication experience nor do they provide privacy, security, and easy care collaboration across organizations.. This leads clinicians too often us ing WhatsApp or text messaging for quick communication. Unfortunately, while convenient, neither SMS text nor WhatsApp are HIPAA compliant and therefore pose risks of data privacy breach.

Alternatively to these non-HIPAA compliant approaches, clinical communication platforms across the organization can be incredibly helpful. Once the organization has decided what communication system it is going to use, it can implement it across the organization and make its use compulsory for everyone so that the system is allowed to prove its benefits and indispensability to all stakeholders.

How Hucu.ai Helps Streamline Clinical Communication

A hospital communication app like Hucu.ai can move asynchronous message sharing to effortless communication. It is a complementary communication tool that is surprisingly affordable and costs a fraction of what an EHR would cost. Hucu.ai is also scalable across all users, partners, and families. How Hucu.ai helps streamline clinical communication and what benefits it offers are often the two most common questions we get.
Hucu.ai is a HIPAA-compliant texting app that works on all iOS and Android devices as well as desktops. It is the perfect alternative to obsolete communication technology like pagers or silo communication methods like phone calls, fax, and emails that delay communication. Hucu.ai is a secure messaging app that offers real-time instant communication because everyone is using the same platform. One message sent in specific patient ‘channels’ reaches all relevant care team members and authorized family members at once – so everyone is in the loop.
When care team members are not physically present in the vicinity, they can instantly video conference call to get a visual and offer support/guidance, at any time of the day. It takes away the limitation to be physically present at certain hours at a certain place to provide care.
Care team members can have contextual communication on the go. They can virtually come together, discuss patient information in a HIPAA-compliant setting, quickly decide on an action plan, and share results. For example, if at midnight, a patient is experiencing a seizure, the nurse on-call can instantly message doctors and care team members to discuss the action plan. The doctor may order lab tests and communicate the to-do list at the same hour. The nurse can share reports, test results, and more via the multimedia sharing feature in Hucu.ai, with the team. Hucu.ai supports interprofessional collaboration and interoperability. Families have more ease of mind because they are virtually involved and kept in the loop at the same time too. Hucu.ai saves time by eliminating the need to communicate the same information to different members of the care team at different times and then to family members as well.


The inability to share information efficiently is a common conundrum across the spectrum of care from physician practices, rehab facilities, to hospitals and everywhere in between. Hucu.ai breaks down this conundrum by offering an instant, secure HIPAA-compliant communication system that can be implemented across healthcare organizations within a few minutes. Hucu.ai is the modern way of healthcare communication. It ensures that the clinical information goes to the right people in real-time, to have a profound positive impact on the caregiver experience. It goes a long way toward helping with the stress and burnout of nurses and physicians.
Now those are all the things an EHR system is just not capable of doing.
Sources: kevinmd.com

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