Hey Doc: Bad Clinical Communication Processes are Sucking Time Out of Your Day — Here’s How to Fix It

Dr. Becker Posted by Dr. Becker on Oct 2, 2017 3:21:21 PM


As a physician, time is your most valuable asset.

These days, you spend countless minutes -- even hours -- doing administrative tasks such as documentation in the EHR, fighting payors for reimbursement, and putting out fires in your practice. You feel that you aren’t doing the job you signed up for: providing care to patients.

Even tasks that you’ve done since you’ve begun practicing can begin to feel burdensome when coupled with everything else that’s expected of you.

Let’s take clinical communication. Most likely, you have no idea how much time you waste on bad clinical communication tools and processes.

Ever waited on hold with a nursing station?

Been bothered with unecessary interruptions?

Had to decipher confusing messages from an answering service?

Spent unnecessary time calling the hospital back, just to give a one word answer?

Here’s the problem with most clinical communication solutions: they aren’t designed for the physician-first and can waste hours of your time every day.

You’re the leader of the care team. Yet, current clinical communication solutions put you at the mercy of hospitals, answering services, and administrators. And thus, waste your time, increase your administrative burden, and take you away from your patients.

In fact, we've seen that the average physician wastes over 84 minutes daily due to poor clinical communication processes. Further, using the right workflows, physicians can communicate 92% faster with hospital staff and patients about care.

Here are 4 ways to reclaim your time and receive and respond to clinical communication your terms:

1. Manage all of your clinical communication in 1-place

Chances are, you use a combination of different tools and processes to communicate about patient care.

When on-call, you may pass pagers amongst your staff. Then there’s the hospital that wants you to use a specific secure messaging solution to accept consults and coordinate care with nurses...

When patients call in after-hours, your answering service sends you an alert on your personal cell phone (mixing with dinner plans and texts from your kids).

During the day, if a clinical message comes in, most office staff have your personal cell number and will just text it to you via SMS (nevermind the compliance violation!).

Why is it so hard to manage all of your clinical communication in one place on your terms?

With BeckonCall, you can ditch the 8-different-patched-together solutions and do just that.

The BeckonCall mobile app keeps all of your clinical messages and conversations neatly organized and accessible. Manage consults, admits, orders, and after-hours patient calls all in one place, according to your rules.

You control:

  • What information you receive
  • How and when the message is delivered
  • The means by which you respond

Plus, everything is neatly separated from your personal communication, ensuring your work-life balance and 100% HIPAA-compliance. Further, all of your messages are documented and auditable, so you can protect yourself should there ever be malpractice litigation.

Keeping clinical communication organized in one place cuts down on frustration and makes those trying to get in touch with you play by your rules.


2. Immediately know when a message warrants a phone call

Another way to reclaim your time is to immediately know when clinical messages warrant a phone call.

Let’s say you receive a page from a hospital that you round at.

Today, you’ll probably receive that message from your front-office staff during the day or from your answering service after-hours.

You’ll take a few minutes to review the message content, but like a game of telephone, when passed through multiple parties, information can be distorted. Especially, when the intermediaries are not clinically trained.

Because of this, you have trouble understanding the message content and end up spending 5-10 minutes on hold with the nursing station, trying to get the nurse on the phone just to understand the situation. Further the interaction only required a 1-word answer in the first place.

Sound complicated and ridiculous? That’s because it is.

BeckonCall solves that same workflow, with the physician in mind.

With BeckonCall, we made sure that the physician decided what key information the nurse includes with each message (e.g. hospital, room number, patient D.O.B, EMR number, etc.) and that messages are sent in the nurse’s own words.

Once the doctor receives it to the BeckonCall smartphone app, they can respond by whichever means suits them: secure text message or phone call. That way it fits the physician’s workflow and there is never any confusion or wasted time.

It’ll look like this:


3. Determine your schedule and availability

There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling that your own schedule is out of your control.

Picture this: you just sat down to dinner with your family after a long day at the office. You receive an message from your answering service requesting that you call a patient back immediately.

Only problem? You aren’t on-call tonight. You excuse yourself from dinner and make sure the message is forwarded to the correct member of your practice.

Or -- you just get scrubbed into the O.R. and your phone is buzzing and pinging off the hook. You ask the nurse to read you the messages - turns out there’s a message from another hospital asking for a consult and a message from your office relaying a patient’s trouble with their medication.

“Gah!” you think, “Why can’t these people stop bugging me when I’m busy?”

With BeckonCall, you determine your schedule and availability.

All messages are delivered based on the call schedule that you or your administrator sets, so you’ll never be bothered off-duty or experience an unwanted interruption.

Plus, we know things arise. So say you have an urgent matter and need another physician in your practice to cover for you, you can make the change in 1-click. No need to alert an answering service.

Further, messages can be sent to backup users if you aren’t available or held for you in a queue depending on the urgency, so you’ll never be disturbed by things that don’t warrant your attention at an inopportune moment.


4. Eliminate Delays from Intermediaries

There’s nothing wrong with using a third-party to get things off of your plate and free up some time in your day.

But things take a different turn when those same third-parties designed to help you become middlemen and a point of frustration.

Let’s take your answering service. Answering services are designed to make after-hours calls from patients and the hospital easier for you, but they’re only human. They get busy. They make mistakes.

Here’s just one example.

A nurse needs to discuss an urgent order change with you

The nurse dials up your answering service, relays the message to the operator, and the operator takes the message down.

However, answering services are busy. Generally, 15-30 minutes pass between the time that the operator receives a message from the hospital and the time that you are paged.

Naturally, in that elapsed time, the nurse who needed to get in touch with you has moved on to care for another patient.

When you call back to discuss the next steps for treatment of the patient, the HUC tells you that the nurse is now occupied and she’ll have her call you back when she’s finished.

Finally, a half hour later, the nurse calls you back and in just a few minutes you resolve the matter and give the nurse instructions on how to proceed with care.

However, what should have been a relatively simple interaction took just over an hour and disrupted your workflow.

This is how the same interaction happens in BeckonCall:

The nurse sends you a message. You can decide whether you prefer her to leave a text or voice message.

As soon as the nurse hangs up, the message is immediately delivered to the BeckonCall app on your smartphone.

Instead of waiting for the answering service operator to look up who is on-call and page the message out, BeckonCall delivers the message to you automatically based on your pre-set schedules and preferences.

You can immediately access the message, determine if you’d like to respond by text message or phone call, and respond immediately.

The nurse, not having had time to move onto another patient, is available to give background on the situation and provide the necessary information, so you can determine the next steps for the patient’s care.

You resolve the matter and move on with your day, in a fraction of the time that the same interaction took with a middleman.


Final Thought

With all that’s on your plate these days, physicians need to reevaluate their workflows and find the hidden culprits that add to burnout, frustration, and wasted time.

See why hundreds of physicians choose BeckonCall as their secret weapon to reclaim their time