In the U.S. someone is added to the kidney transplant list every 14 minutes. That translates to an incredible number of patients and volumes of critical data to track.
Now imagine a transplant center where paperwork isn’t piling up and getting mixed up. Where members of the transplant team don’t have to make several phone calls or scroll through mile-long text and email threads to find the information they need. Where team members only receive the notifications that are relevant to them.
Believe it or not, today’s transplant centers are using communication tools that prevent this seamless flow of information.
These inefficient communications systems ultimately affect patient safety and care quality. They create poor information receipt, negatively impact decision-making, and make it impossible to maintain a distraction-free workplace.
It’s time to turn this around. Here are 5 communication tools your transplant center is probably using, and why it shouldn’t be:
1. Faxing and scanning
Surgeons need real-time communication with the donor coordinator. In order to make decisions about organ fits, surgeons need to easily and quickly access and share files and images.
The information that they need usually isn’t communicated completely over phone calls or texts. As a result, transplant and dialysis centers resort to faxing and scanning their important documents back and forth.
Faxing and scanning create too much work, and they leave too much room for human error. In addition, they take time away from highly-paid staff, such as RNs and surgeons, who end up spending too much time looking for information, instead of caring for their patients.
A communication system designed for transplant helps capture all needed information and reduces the number of steps and time needed to move that vital information between the right people.
For transplant teams, emails fill inboxes all day long with updates on multiple organ offers for multiple patients.
These email chains can often include as many as 30 people on one email, including multiple departments that each need at least one piece of information in the initial email and the responses that follow.
Email conversations usually turn into a chain so long that team members have to spend valuable time scrolling through emails that don’t apply to them. They often end up using the search function to find the one relevant piece of information, and as a result miss information that is vital to their role and to their patients. In addition, constantly checking email has the potential to double the surgeons’ risk of distraction-related errors.
A communication system for transplant helps teams streamline and close the loop in communication. When teams are able to set preferences and filter redundant information, they eliminate disruptive notifications and don’t need to spend valuable time wading through unnecessary information.
Even though texting in health care is illegal due to concerns about security and patient privacy, transplant teams still use it because it’s often faster than other communication platforms.
However, transplant coordinators, OPOs, surgeons and other involved parties end up sending countless texts back and forth, even discussing multiple patients at one time. As a result, multiple conversations usually happen in one thread, often causing critical patient information mixups.
Texting obviously doesn’t comply with HIPAA and privacy laws, but teams are forced to use it to get their jobs done.
Text messages often get lost, important information gets delayed or sent to the wrong person, patient information gets mixed up, further questions come up, and repeated processes demand team members’ valuable but unavailable time.
In addition, texting puts documentation at risk. The communication cluster creates difficulty in answering auditing questions such as, “What was sent, at what time, to whom, who read it, and at what time did they read it?”
The result? Finding a way to quarantine and quantify the extent of a security breach is impossible if there is no documentation. This communication cluster puts the safety of both the transplant team and the patients at risk.
A communication system for transplant helps teams create and follow a set process that both documents and automatically updates patient information in both EMRs and real-time.
Once critical information is documented in one place, team members won’t have to spend time sorting through texts to determine what information goes with which patient.
4. Phone calls
When team members have questions or need information but don’t have the time or free hands to type out an email or text, they resort to making phone calls.
However, this communication is worse than texting and emailing communication clusters as nothing is documented in a phone call.
When two people have a conversation, they face a greater chance of forgetting or losing data. This affects both patient safety and the speed and success of the entire transplant process.
In addition, with no way to document phone calls for auditing, teams face a major security issue here as well.
A communication system for transplant helps teams create a platform with a recorded line. This way, everything is documented and easily accessible to everyone. Surgeons will have the information they need, and patients will receive the competent care they need.
5. Communication platforms that don’t know transplant
Sometimes team members use communication platforms that don’t know transplant.
Often these platforms are designed for more general conditions and treatments. The unique events that occur during a transplant are often omitted because these platforms are designed for general health care issues.
There are real risks when working with platforms that don’t understand the needs of transplant and donation teams. Often times, program designers and programmers don’t take into account the needs and processes of transplant centers into account.
The result? Teams put their secure, yet ineffective devices in a drawer, irrelevant and unorganized notifications distract team members, and tools without procedures become added costs that burden and frustrate staff.
When transplant centers choose a bidirectional communication platform specific to transplant, it meets their specific needs and keeps teams updated on industry trends and the requirements of organizations such as CMS and OPTN.
As a result, everyone is able to stay informed and be distraction-free, hurdle-free, and frustration-free. But more importantly, the right communications platform gives transplant centers the bandwidth to save more lives.
Need to improve communication for your transplant team? Read “How To Fix the Biggest Problem in Your Transplant Communication.”