Getting rid of the silos: How your clinical systems can help

December 16, 2014 in Medical Technology

Most large organizations seem to operate in silos. This is as true in healthcare as in anything else. Individual departments, clinical functions, and specialties that need integrated workflows and consolidation of information do not have it. We have seen how detrimental that can be to patient care; all we have to do is follow the news.

Yet we continue to wonder why interoperability is still just a buzzword and that many enterprises continue to operate separate EHR modules or applications for inpatient and outpatient, or separate workflows for physicians and nurses, as just a couple of examples.

Clearly these functional and operations silos are at best inefficient, and sometimes dangerous. But what if clinical systems provided the means to unify all users?

How can your clinical systems enable clinically-coordinated care, that is, true functional interoperability? Here are four important considerations to put you on the right path.

Get honest about your current clinical systems and users. In order for the EHR to be the “great unifier” and bring all caregivers together, it is important to understand the reality of systems. Do clinicians want to use your EHR? If not, why not? What will it take to get them to use it? What changes need to be made? What do the clinicians want the systems to do for them? The answers to these questions will be different for physicians, nurses, and patient advocates.

Enhance usability. By now, it is no secret that nurses and physicians are not big fans of most EHRs. A common complaint is about usability; but that means much more than just easy-to-use. Usability means documentation tools and user interfaces that don’t slow clinicians down or get in their way. It means tools that integrate documentation with intelligent prompting, which supports the clinician’s thought process and “pushes” relevant information to them at the point of care. It means clinicians finally get something in return for using these systems.

Unite all users with one documentation tool. The documentation tool and user interfaces need to unite all users, rather than exaggerate the silo effect. The technology exists today to accomplish just that: one documentation tool, integrated information, integrated workflows.

Training. With systems that support the clinical thought process, clinicians can be trained in one hour or less. This is achieved by providing systems that work the way physicians and nurses think, rather than force them to adapt to the tools. This is critical to adoption. With efficient training, and the resulting uptake in adoption, clinically coordinated care is more than just a pipe dream, and interoperability is more than just a buzzword.

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