7 tips to overcome nurses’ communication hurdles

October 29, 2014 in Medical Technology

Nurses just might be the original practitioners of mHealth. Even during the pre-smartphone era last century, they typically carried pagers around everywhere, often while off the clock.

As primitive as analog pagers now seem, a raft of mobile technologies stands to empower nurses professionally by enabling them to spend more time with patients and improve care quality. And in some cases, when nurses become more efficient, they may work fewer overtime hours.

“Mobile technologies — including mHealth devices, sensors, tracking solutions and apps — make it easier for nurses to access information when and where they need it and communicate and collaborate more effectively with a patient’s care team as well as across hospital units,” said Frances Dare, managing director of Accenture Health.

Accenture’s research, in fact, found that nurses frequently use a wide range of communication technologies, including bed alarms, digital signage, mobile and landline phones, patient tracking systems and bed alarms.

Such technologies, Dare said, “could help create a collaborative care environment that provides nurses with the ability to communicate, receive alerts on patient status and access data on patient treatments.”

The downsides?

“An over-abundance of technology adds complexity and may contribute to communication challenges,” Dare said, “especially interruptions.”

Accenture has identified 7 tips for leaping over those hurdles:

  1. Begin with a focus on the four primary communications challenges: interruptions, transitions in care, nurse-physician communication and nurse-patient/family communications;
  2. Implement an integrated technology portfolio with a mix of standard communication devices across the enterprise;
  3. Embed unified communication with business rules;
  4. Give clinicians the ability to indicate availability and preferred communication medium;
  5. Create integrated applications available from one communication device that align with nurse workflows;
  6. Reward positive communication behaviors; and
  7. Include options for patients and families, such as automated updates for a family member, and tablets or kiosks in waiting rooms.

“Hospital executives are beginning to understand the economic and quality impact of nursing communication challenges,” Dare said. “Alleviating those challenges is possible only with mobile technologies.”

Dare is slated to discuss the findings of Accenture’s research report, Overcoming Communications Challenges in Hospitals, as well as other related topics during the “How mHealth is changing nursing” panel at the mHealth Summit, which runs Dec. 7-11 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Register here.

This story originally appeared on Healthcare IT News sister site mHealth News.

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