Interprofessional Communication in the Electronic Environment

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 In this part of our series, we're going to explore the technological aspects of how providers and systems communicate in the technological world.

    00:09 To start, we're going to look at how communicating health information in real-time via technology can greatly increase efficiency and effectiveness of coordinating care between providers, because when there's miscommunication, care coordination and quality can suffer.

    00:27 Technology enables providers to share information many, many different ways instead of real time, face-to-face communication.

    00:35 The electronic health record and health information exchanges are now the primary way providers and systems coordinate care with each other.

    00:43 In addition to the straight exchange of patient records or reports, secure messaging, email and mobile health applications are used for more time-sensitive or individual-to-individual conversations about care decisions.

    00:57 Telemedicine platforms enable video conferencing tools for healthcare professionals to consult with each other about patient cases.

    01:04 All this sounds great, and it usually is.

    01:07 However, as with any other technological advancement, there are new challenges.

    01:12 Using a diversity of technology, platforms and software can strain the information literacy levels of many healthcare providers.

    01:20 That's why the role of the informatics specialist often includes acting as a translator. A misinterpretation challenge is often seen in the use of text-based communication in health care, such as emails, text, or electronic health record messages.

    01:36 Messages can be misinterpreted due to lack of context, tone, or even a simple typo. To avoid miscommunications like these, standardized order sets, report descriptions, or referrals are embedded between systems so that rather than a provider manually entering their orders, they choose from pre-vetted lists of actions that remains consistent from patient to patient and provider to provider.

    02:00 The foundation of communication is sending and receiving information in a technology platform. Ensuring that information is sent and received represents the challenge of closing the loop.

    02:13 Referral requests present a classic example of the need for closed-loop communication.

    02:18 That's a process where information is sent, acknowledged and confirmed.

    02:23 If a provider sends a referral request the open loop but never receives confirmation that it was received and acted upon, the closed-loop patient care can be compromised.

    02:35 Imagine a patient who needs to see a specialist, but they fall through the cracks.

    02:39 And why? Because the referral never gets confirmed.

    02:43 Creating an automatic alert system that will notify the originator of the order that the referral was not made, or that the patient did not see them, and so on, means someone gets alerted that there was a breakdown in communication.

    02:56 Another example of loop-based communication is how individual, patient, laboratory, and other diagnostic tests are processed.

    03:03 Lack of proper tracking can lead to missed results and delayed treatment.

    03:09 For example, a patient's abnormal test result may not be acted upon if it's lost in the shuffle of paperwork or electronic files.

    03:17 Automated alerts to abnormal findings, and whether the finding was seen by the provider, or whether the finding was shared with the patient.

    03:25 These are all meant to ensure that care was both effective and efficient.

    03:29 In conclusion, each aspect of health informatics, be it communication, standardization or referral and lab tracking, plays a critical role in providing quality care.

    03:40 As healthcare professionals, understanding these concepts can help you prevent errors and improve communication.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Interprofessional Communication in the Electronic Environment by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Healthcare Informatics.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. It reduces the risk of miscommunication.
    2. It provides multiple methods of sharing information.
    3. Primary methods include electronic health records.
    4. It does not include email or mobile health applications.
    5. It prevents misinterpretation.
    1. An automated message notifying a provider whether or not the referral they sent was received.
    2. An automated message that notifies a provider that lab results are abnormal.
    3. Automated messages notifying providers when their clients are due for routine testing.
    4. Sending paper lab results via mail to a client’s primary care provider.
    5. Giving clients paper copies of their referrals.

    Author of lecture Interprofessional Communication in the Electronic Environment

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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