Critical Communications, Employee Communication

The Top 6 Communication Challenges of the Healthcare Industry and How to Overcome Them

By Aaron Kuhn

A crisis communication plan ensures employees and other key stakeholders receive timely information for their safety.

Mass notification technology has improved communication with patients, employees, media, and other stakeholders which enriches morale and boosts engagement.

Though this technology exists, hospitals and others in the healthcare industry still face communication challenges that can cause operational, reputational, financial, and strategic risk. Read on to learn the top six communication challenges facing the healthcare industry and how to overcome them.

1. Outdated or antiquated technology

Pagers, faxes, radios and telephones have their place, but they don’t provide quick, effective information to large groups. These tools work as one-to-one communication requiring manual replication to escalate the information to involved parties (i.e. you have to call everyone on the phone list to tell them what’s happening).

The Fix: Use a critical communications product that allows the facility to send templated messages (or custom ones) to entire groups such as all nursing staff or target a specific segment, such as nurses with a specific certification.

2. Manual alert delivery increases facility exposure and vulnerability

Printed notices can cause serious reputational and technological risks if they are misplaced, lost, stolen or thrown away. This exposes your facility to vulnerabilities. The notice could get into the wrong hands creating an information security breach or the spread of misinformation. Consider the top ways patient records are accessed by unauthorized parties. Mishandling of protected information is an ongoing concern.

The Fix: Automated alert delivery can help avoid this issue by sending the messages to secure emails and specific groups instead of printing paperwork that could be left around and fall into the wrong hands.

3. Shifts are not filled in a timely manner

Patients never stop needing medical supervision when they are in a hospital. If you are left shorthanded, you will need to quickly fill the shift. Making manual calls to off-duty employees is an ineffective, slow process. Further, there are often multiple people working to fill shifts, calling lists of people. Some may be called more than once while others are not called at all. Or the shift may be filled but slow communication means calls continue until word of the filled shift is received which wastes manpower and time.

The Fix: Critical communications products allow organizations to automatically call, text or email through a pre-sequenced list one at a time in order to quickly and efficiently fill staff vacancies. Call outcomes are documented to provide critical information such as when calls are answered, which shifts are declined, and who is declining and accepting shifts. Calls automatically stop when the shift is filled, sparing additional employees unnecessary calls.

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4. Timely delivery of information to the right people, at the right time

When there is a change in policy or an escalated situation that needs attention quickly, printed notices are not the best way to relay details. Healthcare employees work varying shifts and alternating hours, so engaging them on a regular basis is difficult. Even if you provide lockers or on-site mailboxes that provide a static means of sharing printed information, it does not guarantee that it was received or read by the recipient. There is a high probability of employees saying they never saw the information with the flyer system which could cause liability issues. Having the ability to report on who received or did not receive an alert can help you take the right after-action steps to save time and resources.

The Fix: Critical communications products send alerts to employees’ preferred method of contact and reports on if/when the message was received.

5. Quickly alerting employees and key stakeholders of infectious disease outbreaks, medical lockdown, evacuation, missing patients and more is difficult

Notifying a wide group of people of dangerous situations is a difficult task. It requires a very detailed communication plan that has contingencies and legacy planning (i.e. who will manage the plan if the original person is unavailable?). Alerting must happen immediately for the safety of patients and employees. It’s also important to consider notifying the media as it allows your facility to relay accurate and timely information to avoid public panic.

The Fix: Setting up groups in your critical communications product allows you to send targeted messages to those specific people.

6. Lack of incident response to dangerous situations like impending natural disasters, bomb threats, active shooters and more

You are required to have evacuation plans in case of natural disasters, bomb threats, and active shooters, but do you or your employees know what the plan is? How will you notify them when things are in the “all clear”? Not knowing how to deliver information in these extremely dangerous situations can cause injuries or loss of life.

The Fix: Opt for a critical communications product that can assist you in getting the word out right away – ensuring staff receive the alerts at a moment’s notice.

OnSolve Critical Communications

Though streamlined communication can be challenging, you can move away from the status quo and build an engaging solution with OnSolve that directly addresses each of the concerns mentioned in this post. OnSolve Critical Communications is a fast, secure, reliable way to disseminate information based on specific groups, type of situation, and teams within the organization.

These are just a few functionalities that have proven to be beneficial to healthcare clients:

  • No hardware to buy or install
  • No PBX add-ons, no additional phone lines, no additional phone equipment, no additional systems to maintain
  • No charges for ring time or for multiple re-dials to busy and no-answer numbers
  • No tying-up your internal phone lines or interruptions to your operations
  • No downtime. Reliability is paramount—fully redundant systems, geographically diverse facilities, system uptime is 100%—guaranteed!
  • No long-distance charges

Critical communications is vital to everyday operations and overall patient and employee safety. The more prepared you are to communicate, the less likely you are to face the implications of reputational, operational or security risks.

For more information on OnSolve Critical Communications, contact us.