Study Reveals Common Communication Gaps in Hospitals

Sep 30, 2020

Fort Hamilton Hospital Therapy whiteboard

Every healthcare provider understands the importance of patient communication, especially those who work with patients staying long-term in a hospital. Lack of communication can lead to poorer healthcare outcomes, lower HCAHPS scores, and a decrease in a facility’s or provider’s reputation. The economic and other impacts have pushed patient communication to the forefront of the healthcare community’s priorities, creating a push to an evidence-based overhaul of the way physicians and nurses treat patients.  

The studies that back these new practices, according to a compilation of 69 articles compiled by researchers, have led to the discovery of a few communication gaps commonly found in hospitals. 


Discontinuity of Care  

Communication errors throughout hospitals can lead to treatment errors, a found occurrence in 49% of patients according to one study. This discontinuity of care can lead to rehospitalizations, disjointed communication between inpatient and outpatient providers, poorly outlined discharge plans, and poor follow-ups with patients. This is of particular concern for hospitals because readmissions are strictly tied to CMS reimbursements. High reimbursement levels are estimated to cost hospitals up to 850 million per year. 


Compromise of Patient Safety 

Inefficient communication is one of the leading causes of patient safety incidents in hospitals. From patient falls to hospital acquired infections (HAIs)incidents involving patient safety are costly. Many times, these incidents are caused by necessary information not being available to the right people at the right time. Outside of falls and HAIs, these gaps in communication can also lead to inconsistent treatment plans and inadequate follow up, medication errors and polypharmacy (using multiple sometimes incapable medications at one time). All of these incidents can lead to worsening patient outcomes and decreases in patient satisfaction.


Inefficient Use of Hospital Resources 

Materials managementincluding shipments, inventory, and the tracking of items that move throughout the hospital not only drastically effect the treatment of flow of patients, it is also directly tied to the efficiency and productivity of care teams, not to mention the expenditures of a facility as a whole. Time-motion studies have shown that communication inefficiencies in the hospital setting for physicians are estimated to generate a waste of $800 million annually, and wasted costs were estimated to be $6.6 billion annually. 

The costs of wasted materials and wasted time for physicians (the same studies revealed that communication accounts for 24% of the work time of specialists, and communication inefficiencies in nursing practices is estimated at about $4.9 billion per year) can significantly add to the operating costs of a facility, ultimately resulting in a loss of productivity for the business. 


Increase Communication With Whiteboards

A simple, effective and cost-efficient solution to the hospital communication problem is the implementation of hospital whiteboards throughout a facility. From patient rooms to nurses’ stations and every other area of the facility, the right whiteboards can help foster and increase healthy communication between care teams and patients and among hospital staff. Custom whiteboards can be made for each area, helping staff keep track of patients, treatment schedules, test results, materials and so much more.


Want to learn more about custom hospital whiteboards for your facility? Get in touch with Ghent Healthcare today.