5 ways to enhance the Internal Communication in Hospitals
Communication in healthcare is complex in comparison with its other industry counterparts. This is because all healthcare organisations, including hospitals, employ workforce with diverse nature and culture and have unique internal structures of their own. Additionally, hospital staffs work in multiple roles, durations and care-units amidst chaos and uncertainty of healthcare requirements.
Internal Communication(IC) in hospitals is a holistic approach to communicate and it is designed by the Hospital Human Resource (HR) Management which encompasses all its’ departments. The objective of this communication is to create a common consistent platform for information exchange hospital-wide.
Effective internal communication is vital because hospitals deal with human lives directly. This significantly impacts medical decision making leading to life or death situations.
Communication has to be done with the systemic approach and strategic planning for delivering quality care. Healthcare Consulting Firms (HCF) can help in making optimal use of knowledge and experience generated in the hospital for better communication. This produces best patient outcomes and increases hospital revenues and reputation.
Most hospitals use Hospital Information System (HIS) with digitised records for storing, maintaining and retrieving patient information and also administrative/operational data. The widely used internal communication technologies include-
- Electronic Dashboards
- Mobile Computing
- Electronic Health Records(EHR)
- Digital Voice Communication
- Hospital Intranet and Emails
- Handheld Wireless Devices
- Digital Radiography
- Risks in Patient Safety due to
- Gaps in timely availability of patient information
- Real-time difficulties in contacting medical staff immediately
- Unclear verbal commands
- Misinterpretations in executing physician’s instructions
- Overlooking changes in health status
- Absence of collaboration between hospital staff including physicians, nurses, technicians,
- Difficulties faced by hospital employees in keeping pace with technology developments and innovations in healthcare communications causing high attrition rates
- Lack of consolidated and comprehensive view of internal information creating confusion with multiple lists and call schedules of physicians and other medical staff
- Need for adherence to regulatory and compliance issues in hospital communication mechanisms which could be independent of specific technologies used
- Fostering an environment that encourages and promotes better collaboration and teamwork of hospital staff- This helps in collective decision making rather than taking individual calls which is detrimental to patient care. Consolidated information makes hospital staff aware of their roles and responsibilities. It also enhances employee engagement and productivity.
- Developing a seamless and integrated information system – By doing this, critical information may be accurately communicated to the authorised staff involved in patient care. For example, diagnostic test results and contact details of patients may be instantly conveyed to physicians to expedite faster treatment. Likewise, they may be alerted on patient admissions or health emergencies. This creates a seamless, consistent experience for the patient and ensures high-quality care.
- Constantly reviewing and updating the hospital policies and terms – For handling new healthcare regulations, enhanced accreditation requirements or internal process modifications, this is necessary. Clear internal communication to employees ensures that required changes are quickly and consistently implemented across the hospital.
- Equipping hospital staff with adequate skill sets and training – It is important that every employee is able to fully understand and utilize the hospital communication system. This calls for sufficient training and repeated practice on communication aspects and also on technology advancements. Thus fear of failures and resistance to change is overcome.
- Using strategic top management driven approach for clarity – By clearly communicating goals and expectations, hospital managers and administrators can help employees understand and work towards them. This may be enabled through periodic memos, emails, meetings and policy manuals.