Update: Tackling the Challenges of Clinical Communications

By Pam Phelps, director of nursing and clinical informatics 

You might recall that a steering committee was established in August 2016 to ultimately develop a proposal as to how best to improve clinical communications. Currently there are many challenges related to our clinical communication (caregiver to provider, etc.).  Within Premier Health, we have multiple voice communication platforms, pagers, a secure texting application, email and in-basket within the electronic medical record (EMR).  Currently, none of these offers full integration. Often it is difficult to locate call schedules and assignments that indicate who is the correct person to call.  Unified Communication is the concept of integrating all the tools for correspondence in a way to make for a seamless and easy process of reaching and conferring among providers and caregivers.  

A list of ‘must haves’, ‘nice to have’, ‘wish list’, and ‘do not want’ was presented at open feedback sessions at each of the four hospitals’ main campuses in early December. There were more than 30 participants that represented nursing, pharmacy, laboratory, operators, advance practice providers, and medical imaging, to name a few. The feedback was valuable to accurately reflect the desired state of excellent communication. The list was added to and refined.  

A survey was opened to all Premier Health employees and providers in February to gather additional feedback to ensure that everyone had opportunity to provide input. There were 813 responses to the survey, representing a wide array of disciplines. 

Now that our feedback from everyone has been reviewed, a request for information (RFI) will be submitted. The RFI responses will identify which of the vendors are prepared to meet our ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to have’ requirements. The committee members expect to have all responses from the vendors by March 20 and will review which vendors will be given an opportunity to present their proposals detailing how they can best meet our needs.  

We will be sure to provide an update as this project unfolds. There will be opportunities for product evaluation as we move forward. Our goal is to have enough information to develop a budget and project plan for implementation in 2018. 

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