Cisco Blogs

How Nurses Communicate

- May 12, 2009 - 9 Comments

We recently asked hospital-based nurses to tell us about their communication challenges at work. No surprise, really, they said easier communication would improve patient care and satisfaction, improve productivity and save as much as 10 hours of overtime per week. But they also said they don’t have the communication technology and devices they need to do their jobs. You have to step back and ask yourself “why not?”Here’s my thought about “why not.” It’s been ten years—yes, ten years—since the Institute of Medicine published To Err is Human. It was the shot heard ‘round the healthcare world. We heard the alarming statistics about avoidable medical errors and immediately focused on CPOE, bar-code medication administration, and EHRs to save lives. And now, with ARRA, we have “all-hands-on deck” to deploy EHRsBut I think we may well have lost our ability to see the trees for the forest. Clinical systems won’t solve all of healthcare’s problems. Equally important, we need to help clinicians communicate and collaborate. We need to start with nurses—the largest group of professionals working in hospitals—and what they tell us works for them. Amazingly, one-in-five of the nurses in our national survey have no access to a mobile communication device at work.The next time I’m a patient I want my nurse to be able to quickly clarify confusing medication orders. I sure want my care team to talk with each other—nurses, the hospitalist, my internist and all of those wonderful ancillary departments. It’s been years since I was a hospital administrator, but my final leadership role inside a health system was in a physical rehabilitation hospital. We held weekly care conferences for every inpatient. The entire team—physiatrists, speech pathologists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, quality assurance staff, and care managers—sat around a table and talked about the patient’s progress, updating the care plan as we went. Imagine that kind of collaborative communication whenever it’s needed, and even when care team members are in different locations.It’s time to include the exchange of expertise and insight between people within our definition of health information exchange. People “interoperability” is as important as data interoperability. It’s time to balance and connect the “three C’s”: clinical solutions with communication and collaboration technologies. I believe nurses when they tell us our healthcare depends on it.Want to know more about what nurses had to say in the survey? Read the results and let us know what you think.

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  1. Speaking the truth. I did not knew that Cisco plays the roll in Health Care Industry also. Nice interview and its informative to know how Nurses communicate with each other. They also play a very important roll in Health Care Field.

  2. Thanks so much for you insightful comments, i would like to see a technology that allows every member of the health care team to be connected together. Communication on the floor only works if it's timely and two way and we need technologies that fit this methodology.

  3. ThanxCan anyone imagine a hospital without nurses to take care of the patients, it will be very difficult for the Doctor, the patient and also the relatives, if the nurses are good at communication with polite speech then the patient get well in half the actual time required for him to get well.

  4. I can not imagine a scenario like that. I think that there needs to be some kind of incentive or something that can be a way to entice more people to get into the nursing field. The shortage of nurses is staggering.

  5. Can anyone imagine a hospital without nurses to take care of the patients, it will be very difficult for the Doctor, the patient and also the relatives, if the nurses are good at communication with polite speech then the patient get well in half the actual time required for him to get well.

  6. I believe that nurses really are the backbone of the health care industry. I have many RN's and LPN's in my family and the difficulties that they go through are tremendous of course. But all in agreement say that communication in general is always a challenge. I know that these nurses should be able to have every avenue of help they need and I believe it all starts with communication and information. Doctors as well as nurses need to have not necessarily the fastest but the most reliable information.

  7. Hello, MikeI am the Director of Healthcare Solutions at Cisco. Healthcare and providing solutions that address challenges related to communication in the clinical environment are top of mind for Cisco. As an RN, I have personally experienced some of these challenges and believe there is tremendous opportunity to help drive solutions that should have a huge impact. Our initial solutions are focused on leveraging the IP Telephony environment. However, we believe that video will create some new opportunities in the future that may soon be at top of mind for healthcare providers. As much of our communication is comprised of verbal and non-verbal, we believe video can create new opportunity for connecting care providers to patients, patients to patients and clinicians to clinicians.

  8. Mike,Thanks for the comment. Rest assured, the nurse survey findings will influence our solution features and functions as well as our solution roadmap. I'm going to invite my Cisco colleague, Kathy English, into the conversation to comment further about that.The question much on my mind, from an industry-wide perspective,is: how do we bring a balance to the conversation so that clinical solutions AND communication and collaboration solutions are seen as enablers of healthcare modernization? EHRs aren't the only answer."

  9. Cisco is right on in tackling this.Would love to see a 5 point"" plan from John and team that show how all the pieces come together."