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.

For instance, on TXP Chat, surgeons can create preference cards that determine what information they receive and how they receive it. That way, they’ll receive information in the way that works best for them every time. They can customize notification preferences to limit their distractions during other surgeries or in the middle of the night.

Transplant team members can also benefit from standardized communication. By accessing saved chat histories on TXP Chat, they can review the detailed history and status of each patient’s case. As they switch between different cases, they can review the ongoing status of the patient and of the pending organ transplant without getting confused or missing important messages.

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.

A communication platform like TXP Chat helps teams do that via a secure messaging channel that keeps information from gets lost in translation. Messages grouped by UNOS number keep all communication regarding a patient in one place so anyone new to the conversation can quickly scan and get the information they need. This technology improves trust, reliability, and efficiency among team members helping them get to an organ offer decision faster and coordinate procurement details more quickly. 

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.  Technology like TXP Chat can provide a secure location to store patient preferences and analyze them when a potential organ offer comes in to help transplant teams keep a patient’s wishes at the forefront.  

Additionally, for every one organ transplant, there can be hundreds of pieces of data for surgeons, transplant teams and OPOs to consider. When this amount of data is scattered across communication platforms, it’s difficult for teams to access and use it in an organ offer decision with a short time frame. AI can help here, too. TXP Chat, for instance, synthesizes organ and patient data, giving transplant surgeons the decision support insights they need to accept or reject an organ offer.

Streamlined communication for transplant

Organ transplant communication doesn’t need to breakdown. You can improve communication between your teams and OPOs

Guide: How to improve transplant team communications

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