Using Telehealth Services to Improve Internal Clinician Communication

Coordinating different physicians can be challenging, even if they're in the same practice. But, while challenging, strong communication and collaboration are crucial to providing accurate care and maintaining an efficient clinic. With the success of their practice at stake, physicians must improve internal communications, and telehealth can help. 

 

If internal communication isn't working in your practice, it's likely creating a ripple effect of issues. Patients may receive contradicting diagnoses or treatments, files may be lost, and processes won't be working as efficiently as they should be. 

If these issues aren't enough, severe miscommunication could result in a lawsuit. In a given year, medical safety experts investigated 23,000 medical malpractice lawsuits and found that over 7,000 could be attributed to communication failures. These "communication failures" cost almost 2,000 lives as well as $1.7 billion in legal fines. For these reasons and more, healthcare practices must have seamless internal communication. 

While it may seem as though you can just force physicians to "communicate better," what does this really entail? Physicians are busy today more than ever. Without a proper system in place for communication and collaboration, it can be challenging to maintain and enforce internal communication practices. Fortunately, a telehealth platform can provide practices with this system, making internal clinician communication easier than ever. 

 

Case Sharing

 

Internal communication is most vital regarding patient care. When patients go into a clinic or doctor's office, they don't just walk up to their provider and get started. Instead, they first meet the receptionist, perhaps a nurse or two, and then eventually their doctor. 

While this chain of command is necessary to allocate a doctor's time effectively and get all of a patient's information, it creates many opportunities for failed communication. If a form gets misplaced between personnel or two providers receive different information, it not only makes the doctor's job more challenging but also poses the risk of inaccurately treating a patient. If this were to occur, it could have a detrimental impact on the patient's health. 

Fortunately, telehealth can reduce the risk of this issue through case and medical image sharing. Within the telehealth platform, a patient's case will include all relevant medical data, including EHRs, scans, medical images, patient history, a list of prescriptions, and more. 

This "case" is attached to a patient's profile, ensuring there's no risk of confusing it with another patient's. When a patient seeks a consultation with their provider, their doctor will receive this case, ensuring a complete and accurate patient profile is received. 

This may seem like the digital version of information sharing in a clinic, but sharing cases via telehealth drastically reduces the risk of human error. As all personnel will receive and access the same case, there is no risk of duplicate or lost information. 

Consequently, when a provider receives a patient's case, they can rest assured that it is accurate and complete. This ensures they can provide their patients with the best possible care while working as efficiently as possible. 

 

Real-Time Collaboration

 

In addition to sharing patient data, it's also essential that physicians communicate with one another. A patient's diagnosis or treatment is rarely one provider's decision and instead requires collaboration between several. Within a busy clinic, it can be challenging to facilitate this communication and keep track of what was discussed. Fortunately, telehealth can simplify this as well. 

For those familiar with telehealth services, you may only think of communication between patients and doctors. While this is a significant component of the platform, telehealth also facilitates communication between doctors. Providers can communicate within discussion rooms through direct messaging or real-time video conferencing. Doctors can record meetings with one another or go back to their messages at any time. 

Enabling this communication drastically improves physician collaboration, making it easier to get a hold of another and stay on the same page. Telehealth eliminates the need for calls, SMSs, or emails, ensuring a timely response. 

While communicating, doctors can send patient data, images, and files to one another as needed. This is particularly beneficial when seeking a second opinion or help on a consultation. Physicians can communicate easier than ever while having the means to efficiently share resources within a secure and centralized online platform. Whether working in the same clinic or across the globe, doctors can seamlessly communicate and collaborate through telehealth. 

 

Administrative Communication

 

Communication in terms of administrative tasks is another critical component of efficiently managing a healthcare clinic. If there is miscommunication (or lack of communication entirely) regarding patient files, organization habits, and scheduling, it could significantly impede operations. While it may not seem as though these tasks would impact patient care, they do.

If there is no communication between physicians and the personnel scheduling their appointments, providers will not likely show up to appointments on time - or at all. Consequently, patients are the ones who pay for these communication errors. Similarly, if there isn't adequate communication on organizational tactics, doctors could waste time searching for patient files rather than having them ready to go. 

Each and every seemingly menial task within a practice requires communication and collaboration. If communication isn't a part of these operations, they will likely create problems down the line. For this reason, telehealth services include administrative processes such as scheduling, billing, and record storage. 

Both patients and providers can make, view, and edit telehealth appointments via online scheduling, ensuring that no one's time is wasted. All relevant records and files are stored within the platform, ensuring that not even a second is wasted searching for patient records. Even billing and other administrative procedures can be handled online. By consolidating all of these processes into one centralized platform, there are no holes in communication and, consequently, much fewer issues in terms of patient care. 

 

Teaching Platform

 

Telehealth platforms can even be used as a teaching tool among physicians. Doctors can present cases to one another, as well as clinic protocols and processes. These sessions can be conducted synchronously in a video conference or asynchronously for future reference. Utilizing telehealth platforms as an educational tool can significantly help practices optimize their operations and set best practices, such as standards for communication. 

 

Connecting Doctors with Telehealth

 

When it comes to managing a clinic, communication may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, communication is a critical component of not only effectively managing your practice but also caring for patients. 

In an extreme example, communication could be the difference between a patient receiving the proper prescriptions or not. A less extreme example would be a physician failing to attend an appointment. Whatever the circumstances, for the sake of your clinic, you must practice seamless internal communication. 

While this level of communication has been challenging to facilitate in the past, telehealth makes it easy. Telehealth platforms allow doctors to collaborate remotely in real-time, ensuring that every step of the patient experience is positive. Improved communication and collaboration will have your practice running smoothly, ensuring the best possible care for your patients. 

 

Interested in learning how other practices have benefited from Medicai? Download our case study to see for yourself.

 

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