Effective, reliable and secure communication is an important aspect of any successful business. This concept becomes even more critical when sensitive information like health care data is involved. Yet, despite the clear need for transparent communication, why do so many healthcare organizations struggle to come up with a viable solution?
The answer, as it turns out, can be explained by the complex nature of healthcare data and a lack of unification.
The Cost of Miscommunication
From imaging data to electronic health records (EHR) and all the billing in between, health care communication is a fickle beast. This complexity can unfortunately lead to some costly mistakes without an effective solution. Health IT Outcomes has reported on a recent study that paints a much clearer picture of this dilemma.
The study poured over 7,149 instances in which health care data was somehow miscommunicated. What they found was that almost 2,000 lives were lost and a staggering $1.7 billion in malpractice costs were tallied in the U.S. from 2009 to 2013 as a result of miscommunication. This communication breakdown was prevalent in both inpatient (44 percent of cases) and ambulatory instances (48 percent of cases). However, maybe most disconcerting was the discovery that 80 percent of major clinical errors were a result of poor communication.
The Causes of Miscommunication
Now that we understand the gravity of communication issues in healthcare, what causes these breakdowns? As it turns out, the combination of complex data and the disparate systems they come from lead to a desperate lack of unification. Without a managed, central way for all departments and data to transmit information seamlessly, communication stumbles and mistakes are made. As we just discussed, these mistakes can be surprisingly costly.
In many healthcare organizations, departments are split into distinct data silos with different vendors supporting each one. While this makes high-level organization more manageable, each department becomes inherently isolated from a data perspective. For example, when a patient has been admitted through the ER after a successful procedure, multiple departments must communicate their data in harmony for the patient to be placed in a bed and eventually discharged. Everything from imagery to billing data needs to be accessible from multiple angles. Add to that the obvious security and compliance requirements and you can quickly see the necessity of a centrally managed and automated solution.
Ultimately, effective communication of healthcare data is one of the most important aspects of the industry. Many organizations deploy multiple solutions specific to the needs of each department. What they're missing is the puzzle piece to unite these different data sources in a central, secure way. Only then can communication be unified to drive success and reduce costly mistakes.