(Last updated: 2/27/2020)

Communication is critical to the effective delivery of healthcare. This is particularly true today, with so many different people and entities involved in the patient care workflow. Physicians and other members of medical practices must communicate with service providers like hospital radiology departments and of course, with the patient. Miscommunication is highly problematic. It can lead to poor quality of care and needless, costly work by administrative staff. Software offers a solution, if it is implemented the right way.

Who’s in the workflow          

You can think of the interactions between physicians and service providers as a choreographed collaborative workflow. When a doctor orders a service like an MRI, it sets a process into motion. This process involves communications between the medical specialist, the order physician, a scheduler, hospital staff and the patient. Each participant needs certain information to do his or her job effectively.

Opportunities for miscommunication

Each participant in the collaborative workflow has a role to play in the delivery of care. The more coordinated and accurate the communication, the smoother the process will go. The opposite is true, too. When people don’t have complete information, they have to get clarification, which usually requires phone calls, emails and faxes. Or, they make assumptions and risk delivering the service improperly.

The patient is often the least well-informed member of the workflow. He or she may lack directions to the service provider and be unclear on the exact time of the appointment. The patient may end up calling the doctor and the service provider, triggering a cascade of confirmations and double-checking that takes up staff time. The patient also may miss instructions that go with the service, like not eating before a blood test and so forth – resulting in rescheduling or unusable exam data.

Consequences of miscommunication

Wasted overhead spending and poor patient care are the two main consequences of miscommunication in the delivery of care. The inefficient, manual workflows describe above make staff unproductive. This affects the bottom line for the both referring practice and the service provider. For the patient, the effects of miscommunication range from nuisance to serious health impacts. If the patient doesn’t get the service, and the doctor doesn’t know this, the patient’s health may deteriorate without anyone being aware of the problem.

In extreme cases however, miscommunication can be much more costly, both for patients and providers. A jury recently awarded $10 million in damages to a patient who was not informed by physicians of a suspicious mass on his bladder that appeared in scans. Two years later, an ultrasound revealed the mass was in fact multiple tumors, and the patient was diagnosed with bladder cancer. As a result of this miscommunication, the patient had to undergo chemotherapy and the removal of both his bladder and prostate. This could have all been avoided if the hospital physicians had communicated better with each other and the patient.

Reducing miscommunication with order management software        

Order management systems like iOrder make it possible to reduce miscommunication and its attendant consequences. It provides secure transparency to everyone involved in creating and delivering a service. By creating a single, unified record of the order, the physician scheduler, patient and assorted staff members can all see the same information at the same time. The tool also offers built-in messaging for clarification and correction. For example, if a service requires pre-authorization, the iOrder system allows for collaboration between referring physician and the hospital to obtain the authorization or paperwork needed to expedite the service deliver.Order management software ambulatory order management processes and cuts down on miscommunication. If you want to learn how iOrder can make your practice or facility run better, let’s talk.