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Communication and Collaborative Technologies

Scott Hagan
Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Class of 2013

Dr. Danny Sands, President of the Society for Participatory Medicine and Director of Medical Informatics at Cisco Internet Business Solutions, gave a great presentation (slideshow available here) on the use of emerging technologies to improve patient-physician communication in healthcare on Saturday, March 12th at the AMSA Annual Convention & Exposition. Some particular points that I found intriguing:

• Pagers are quickly becoming irrelevant in medicine, as physicians are moving toward smartphones and cell phones to receive messages. This is a welcome change, as beepers are an inefficient way of communicating.
• In general, inefficient communication in the hospital accounts for a massive amount of wasted time. For example, 65% of nurses spend than 20-60min/shift just trying to reach staff, and over 66% use more than one channel of communication to do so.
• According to the Joint Commission, communications failures are considered to be the greatest contributor to sentinel events in hospitals. Thus it is a moral imperative for the future clinician workforce to improve the processes of communication in healthcare if we are to do right by our patients.
• New forms of e-Communication, whether it be improved patient access to their health information (like Beth Israel’s http://www.patientsite.org) or advanced telemedicine that allows clinicians to interview and even to record signs of patients remotely, are revolutionizing the patient experience, and we should welcome new technologies that empower patients and increase the efficiency and ease of communication.
• Both provider and patient use of social media has exploded in the past 5 years, whether it be Twitter (check out Sands’ recommendation of 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter), Facebook, I Move You, or the myriad blogs and websites on health care.

To read more about Dr. Sands, follow him on Twitter. Also check out the blog of his most famous patient, e-Patient Dave, who blogs about patient empowerment.

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