Why Transplant Centers Get Stuck In A Communication Cluster (and how to fix it)

Organ transplant communication needs to be fixed.

Breakdowns in communication affect the patient, the transplant team, and the transplant center alike. For instance, when information needs to be repeated multiple times, important data may get lost over overlooked. Transplant teams are distracted from the task at hand (another surgery, caring for patients, or personal time) resulting in errors or high stress and potentially low job satisfaction. 


Poor communication comes with a financial cost as well. Low job satisfaction among employees can result in employee turnover; operational inefficiency may cause expensive delays or staffing changes; and ultimately, communication breakdowns may slow how fast an organ offer is accepted or rejected, resulting in more cold ischemia time for the organ and the possibility that a patient doesn’t get the organ they need to survive.

Often, poor communication happens as a result of a bottleneck around the organ offer, or as we call it “the communication cluster.” In this cluster, OPOs, transplant coordinators, transplant surgeons, and possibly even third party call centers are sending emails, text messages, and calls back and forth. Information gets delayed or lost on its way to the right person. Once it reaches the right person, they may have further questions and have to repeat the entire process to find answers.

Transplant centers, teams, and patients need a better solution. They need transplant communication that is effective, streamlined, and be outcomes-focused. Here’s how to stop communication breakdowns at your transplant center:

Creating predictable and reliable communication processes

Coordinating organ transplants is a fluid and fast-paced process. Often, there is no standard way to communicate among team members or with external parties like OPOs. Text messages, emails, and phone calls fly back and forth creating a cluster of communication that often causes breakdowns.

Standardizing organ transplant communication while still allowing for flexibility will help information flow smoothly without getting bottlenecked in one stage of the process. This predictable process can help teams know who needs to be notified when and where to find the exact information they need.


Use technology to close the loop on your communication

To communicate, a sender conveys a message to a recipient. If the communication is effective, the recipient will understand the message the way the sender meant it - a shared mental model, so to speak. However, in transplant communication, shared mental models don’t always happen, resulting in lost information and problematic delays.

Since successful transplants rely heavily on good communication, teams need to know the message they sent is received the way they intended it to be received. Closed-loop communication, which “allows the sender to know that their requests have been heard and understood,” can help transplant teams communicate more effectively.

Since transplant teams communicate with OPOs and other members of the team through messaging, email, or phone calls, it is vital that they receive and send this kind of feedback-informed communication to know that they share the same mental model with everyone else.


Leveraging outcome-driven knowledge to remove inefficiencies and lower costs

If social media platforms can create personalized user experiences through AI, life saving organizations like transplant centers should be able to as well. The technology exists to help match an organ to the patient, but is often underutilized in organ transplant. Without this technology at their fingertips, transplant surgeons may not be able to quickly find patient preferences for their transplant. Or they may need to weed through piles of data to make their decision when technology could do it faster for them.

Patient involvement, in particular, has been shown to improve outcomes, yet it’s hard to keep track of their preferences and transplant teams often don’t have time to get their input when considering an organ offer.  


Streamlined communication for transplant

Interested in an out-of-the-box communication solution for your transplant program(s)? 

Schedule a meeting with one of our communication experts today to see the tool and learn how other centers across the country are leveraging OmniLife's communication platform to increase productivity, documentation, and ultimately transplant volume.  


Schedule Discovery Session


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