The Value of Mobile Care Coordination Part 2

mobile care coordinationCare Team Awareness: Who’s on First, What’s on Second?

Renee S. Bessette, Vice President of Marketing & Operations
Part 1 of 3 – The Value of Mobile Care Coordination

At the start of their shift, scheduling programs and assignment lists inform individual providers where they will be working and to which patients they are assigned. Providers are organized by service, teams, and roles, with each group focused on a specific aspect of a patient’s treatment plan.

However, when it comes time for a provider to communicate with one or multiple members of a patient’s care team, they are often wonder “Who’s on first? What’s on second?”

Good question.

In a study published in Advances in Patient Safety, researchers found that 78 percent of physicians were not able to identify the nurse caring for the same patient at the start of a workshift. Fifty-eight percent of nurses could not identify the same physician caring for the same patient. When it comes to “simple” one-on-one interactions, a lot of time is spent determining who is in charge of a patient’s care. A nurse could spend up to one-fifth of his or her day organizing care coordination or communicating with team members or other departments.

In financial terms, hospitals en masse lose $12.4 billion annually because of communication inefficiency among care providers – attributed to the time spent figuring out who else is on a patient’s care team and/or who is in charge of the patient’s care plan, as well as the time spent tracking them down by phone, page, email, text, or even in person. It’s enough of a gauntlet to navigate that these bottlenecks can lead to delays in treatment or discharge, poorly delivered care and negative effects on patient safety. A 500-bed hospital could lose $4 million annually due to such inefficiencies due to poor communication.

As many healthcare organizations deploy secure messaging apps on providers’ mobile devices, replacing outdated (and insecure) pagers, these programs still may leave providers in the untenable situation of still not knowing who else is taking care of the same patient. Most secure messaging apps for healthcare successfully deliver on their intended premise – simple text messaging with an integrated Active Directory of users from the health care organization.

If you think of everyone who could be on a patient’s care team – physicians, residents, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, radiologists, dietitians, case coordinators, discharge planners, primary care physicians, social workers, housekeeping, engineers  – how does one know who to keep in the loop? Whether inside the hospital walls or within the patient’s extended healthcare ecosystem, all members of a care team need to be aware of everyone else on the care team in order to share information, and coordinate care effectively and efficiently. Scanning through a directory of an organization’s users to find others is certainly not the most efficient use of time, not to mention frustrating for the providers.

As recommended by the Institute of Medicine, providers should be able to seamlessly coordinate care within and across different settings. In order to create real-time care team awareness and connectivity, organizations should seek mobile tools that can automatically configure rosters of providers caring for each patient. Some apps integrate ADT feeds, while others leverage scheduling and assignment programs to display consolidated views of each patient’s care team.

This care team “mapping” approach is much like a hub and spoke, with the mobile tool as the hub of patient-centered communication and coordination, and the spoke representing each member of the patient’s care team. Every care team member has visibility into the patient’s treatment plan, which can increase each provider’s accountability – eg. avoiding duplication of efforts or overlooking treatments – while also helping to improve patient safety.

Another benefit of care team mapping is that this approach can also help to break down functional silos that too often isolate providers from one another. Each member of a patient’s care team supports a very specific aspect of a patient’s treatment plan. All members of a patient’s care team are usually not on the same floor, in the same building, or even in the same geographical location as the patient or the rest of the team. Care team mapping makes it easier for providers to connect with colleagues in a central, virtual location where they can share information, ask questions, and communicate outside of the traditional confines of the hospital walls, creating a truly patient-centered care community.

In the next installment of this series, we will look at methods to leverage care team mapping in the context of real-time, patient-centered provider collaboration.

Renee S. Bessette is the Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Care Thread, a provider of secure mobile messaging and care team collaboration solutions for healthcare providers. She has extensive experience in global marketing, brand management, and educational programs. She previously worked at Honeywell Safety Products and Sperian Protection. Follow Care Thread on Twitter @carethread.