When you’re rounding, how do you communicate patient status updates with your colleagues? We can all agree that regular texting would be the easiest option, but that’s not secure enough. CMS issued a memo clarifying what’s permissible in 2017, stating “All providers must utilize and maintain systems/platforms that are secure, encrypted, and that minimize the risks to patient privacy and confidentiality as per HIPAA regulations.”
The question arises: Why not just look in the EHR? Everything is documented there anyway. I recently asked a doctor friend, “If you want to get to a progress note for a quick update about how things are going for a patient, how many clicks would it take?”
His first response? “Well, it wouldn’t be quick.”
Once we got to analyzing the question though, we figured out that it would take five clicks and two list searches just to get to a progress note – and that’s assuming he was already signed in AND the patient was already on his list, which is one thing if you need to read the entire note, but cumbersome if you’re just trying to find or convey a quick piece of information.
To try and combat this problem, EHRs are rolling out secure chat options that are part of their platform to streamline things. While helpful, there’s some danger there. As Modern Healthcare points out: “NYU Langone Health has found that feature particularly useful, although it also means educating EHR users that the chat program is separate from documentation.
Dr. Paul Testa, NYU’s chief medical information officer, said, ‘Exchange of data is not documentation of clinical data.’” And we all know: if you didn’t document it, it never happened. According to attorney Andrew Selesnick with Buchalter’s healthcare practice group, “Health systems should consider whether text messages need to be printed and made part of the patient record in full” to avoid this problem.
Let’s pause there for a second and imagine that workflow: use the secure chat to save time, but then be sure to print the chat and scan it back into the record. Since many secure chat tools only display the conversation to the participants, who is going to do this work? As someone who has worked in clinical application training and management, I’m trying to imagine asking a physician to do this, and let’s just say… it wouldn’t go well (nor should it, because that’s ridiculous).
Further, using the EHR chat to communicate about patients doesn’t work well if you need to communicate with your partners and your practice rounds at different facilities or hospital systems. Even if multiple hospital systems are using the same brand of EHR, those EHRs don’t talk to each other.
This brings us to secure messaging platforms, which are an excellent option for quick, HIPAA compliant communication. There are many good options out there. When your practice is considering which to choose, here are some points to consider:
- Look for platforms where the messages can be attached directly to the patient, rather than separated into their own silo. This way, another member of the team can access them later if needed.
- If the messages are patient-related, ensure that it’s clear which patient is being discussed. This clarity is essential to prevent mistakes.
- The entire team should be able to access the service. If you want to bridge the gap from inpatient to outpatient care, including your team of MAs, nurses, billing staff, and others back at the office is important.
- Is the tool available on desktop and mobile? Mobile is great for most providers, but many staff members who may need to communicate will do so from the desktop.
HybridChart offers a complete rounding tool, and includes secure messaging. Messages about patients are easily accessible for the entire team to allow for complete communication. Census management tools also make it easy to convey information about patient status and needs at-a-glance across multiple facilities. Visit us today at hybridchart.com to learn how we can assist your team with collaboration and help end communication breakdown.
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Smarter Rounding and Workflow Software for Doctors
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If you are interested in taking your medical practice to the next level and want to employ the best hospital charge capture practice available in the industry, come visit our website at www.hybridchart.com, or call us at 1-877-684-0608 for a demo today!