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Clinical Communication, Collaboration Key for HIT Systems

Clinical communication and collaboration systems are growing rapidly as more healthcare organizations require real-time data sharing.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Clinical communication and collaboration platforms are important to health IT infrastructure because they improve operations and quality of care by coordinating HIT systems.

A Gartner report released late last year explains that clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) systems have gained traction because of the increase in mobile device usage by healthcare professionals.

Clinicians are using mobile devices to give patients a better experience. Mobile devices allow clinicians to only log into their devices once per day, rather than wasting time logging into a desktop every time they begin treating a new patient.

Report authors predicted that by 2021, 60 percent of CC&C platforms will offer telemedicine and virtual care capabilities such as teleconsultations, video visits, and remote patient monitoring.

Knowing the latest information on each patient is vital to organizations implementing value-based care initiatives because it prevents redundancies among different clinicians treating the same patient and helps organizations avoid readmission fees.

Entities deploying modern solutions into their health IT infrastructures are faced with the challenge of making sure all the systems are communicating properly and exchanging information at a useful rate.

The Gartner report points out how CC&C systems will become a critical point-of-care system as healthcare providers become more insistent on real-time health systems (RTHS).

RTHSs are responsive to patient needs and the care delivery needs if the clinician. They make care delivery more efficient and effective so patients are getting the care they need and clinicians are able to visit many patients.

CC&C systems are used to coordinate activities between clinicians, staff, and IT infrastructure systems. They assist healthcare professionals in securely and quickly sharing data, such as text messages, documents, images, telemetry, and audio files.

The real-time aspect of CC&C reduces response times and contributes faster patient discharges, improved patient safety, and treatment retention.

CC&C platforms contain features that allow for better communication among clinicians and other healthcare staff. Different kinds of digital communication such as secure texting, voice over IP, email, and paging are all converged into one system with the benefit of modern mobility and cloud technologies.

Similar to other health IT infrastructure systems that share patient information, there is always HIPAA compliance to consider when deploying a CC&C system. Gartner maintained that CC&C systems must have the administrative and technical controls to ensure all EHRs and PHI is protected.

The report explained that any truly HIPAA compliant CC&C vendor will have evidence of third-party assessments that prove its HIPAA compliance and adherence to HITECH. Most CC&C vendors ensure HIPAA compliance by constantly improving business associate agreements and implementing advanced security management solutions.

Gartner analysts observed that the CC&C market is growing rapidly, but also somewhat chaotically. Many CC&C vendors are working closely with healthcare organizations to build a system that is truly healthcare ready.

The biggest driving force in the adoption of CC&C systems is the growth of mobile device usage in healthcare organizations. Mobile and BYOD devices can cause security issues if they are not managed properly.

Mobile devices function differently and often use different apps than desktops or laptops do it’s important to coordinate all of the information entered in a variety of endpoints.

Gartner researchers also found that clinicians see the benefits of CC&C solutions in how they positively influence patient experience, clinician productivity, and employee satisfaction. Clinicians are more prepared when they enter an exam room because they have all of a patient’s information in real-time.

“CC&C systems are not passive actors in this new operational and management paradigm, but rather a rich source of patient event data and encounter and engagement activity necessary to satisfy revenue, cost, quality and patient experience expectations,” report authors found.

The report concluded that healthcare organizations need RTHSs as they continue to build more advanced IT infrastructures.

Entities are moving toward technology that consolidates systems, standardizes data, and automates processes. Ensuring that all users and systems are communicating in real-time greatly benefits clinicians and patients.