Poor communication in healthcare is shockingly common and leads to devastating outcomes. 70 to 80% of serious medical errors are from communication failures.
By their nature, wounds usually require a patient to be involved in multiple specialties. Patients with wounds are no strangers to appointments at practices like vascular surgery, lymphedema management, infectious disease management, home care, physical therapy, and more.
But with so many moving parts in a wound care patient’s treatment, how can they have confidence that nothing is getting lost in the shuffle?
Patients deserve efficient, error-free care. Their health is on the line. Unfortunately, these patients often shoulder the harm caused by poor communication.
Referrals and in-facility care handoffs become dangerous to the patient when they are riddled with lapses in communication. Foundational care aspects, such as receiving the right drug, the right dose, through the right route, at the right time, can fall through the cracks.
Blaming other facilities for referrals that were poorly handed off is not the answer. A Joint Commission study discovered that caregiver miscommunication during care handoff—that is, within a single facility—accounted for 80% of serious medical errors.
Does your wound care EHR (or your EHR’s wound care section) streamline communication to prevent patient injuries?
Approximately 40% of EHRs have the potential to cause patient harm. What is it about these EHRs that create such a high risk for poor outcomes, especially when it comes to poor communication in wound care?
SOME OF THE MOST COMMON HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATION BOTTLENECKS INCLUDE:
Systems that aren’t user-friendly. Assessment details are harder to retain when charting in a system is difficult or time-consuming.
Lost information. Information that isn’t filed appropriately in the EHR may as well be lost.
Unclear expectations about what needs to be communicated. Staff members who aren’t aware of what needs to be included in care transfer can’t give a thorough handoff.
Time constraints. Overstretched staff will prioritize patient care over documentation when there isn’t time to do it all.
WHAT DOES THIS LEAD TO?
Delayed patient referrals. A facility may reach its limit on what it can offer a patient for wound care. However, this should never delay a referral to a more appropriate specialist.
“Passing the buck” between practices. Collaboration between practices is essential. Patients with chronic wounds are at risk of getting sub-par wound management that doesn’t handle all underlying causes.
Poor quality control for patients. To avoid communication breakdown, a facility’s electronic system needs to quickly highlight a patient’s care trends—and outcomes. Changes can’t be made until negative patterns are recognized.
Inappropriate referrals. When a referral is predicated by a weak assessment and documentation, it’s easy for a wound to get passed to an entirely inappropriate practice. For example, a patient with a skin disturbance may get a wound care referral when they really need a dermatology referral.
Wasted money. Recovering lost information, requesting information, and re-doing procedures and labs is an enormous waste of resources and staff hours.
Wasted time. Patient care gets unnecessarily delayed. There are readily available practices that can give a patient the wound care, vascular support, diabetic management, etc. that they need.
Poor patient outcomes. Worst of all, an inefficient EHR can lead to preventable harm to the patient.
BUT WITH IMPROVED COMMUNICATION…
Continuity of care improves
Charting becomes more efficient
Needed referrals get made
Care outcomes become better
Proper use of technology is a crucial key to preventing communication breakdown in nursing and physician staff.
HOW DOES A DIGITAL WOUND MANAGEMENT SYSTEM HELP IN IMPROVING HEALTHCARE COMMUNICATION?
Wound care is recognized and prioritized
Wounds are oftentimes the result or cause of another health problem. Consider a facility caring for a patient with bilateral chronic leg wounds. They may not recognize the need for vein treatment if the wounds aren’t being appropriately prioritized. When a facility keeps on top of wound assessment and care, a patient can get more holistic care.
Key quality indicator trends are immediately apparent
Chronic wounds deteriorate quickly—yet it’s difficult to notice them getting worse unless the change is dramatic. With an efficient wound management system, a patient’s progress can be automated. Imagine seeing a graph to track a patient’s progress rather than digging through and comparing typed chart notes.
Ease of use trumps bells and whistles
Healthcare workers need to have the tools necessary to prioritize patient care. Yet to do this, they need their EHR to be efficient. Features are important, but only when they don’t disrupt the flow of documentation and reference. A wound digital management system allows easy navigation and fast assessment input.
Integration into the current EHR is a priority
Getting an entirely new EHR system for the wound care features is rarely time or cost-effective. However, a supplemental system can fill in the gap. A good wound care EHR automatically integrates information into a facility’s current EHR
Measurements become more accurate
In wound care, one of the biggest challenges in assessing healing progress is inaccurate wound measurements. A digital wound management system with wound measuring software is the perfect solution. Simply hovering a camera over the wound captures and documents an accurate measurement.
It starts improving healthcare communication with providers within the practice
To keep a care plan appropriate to a patient’s current needs, doctors and nurses need to be able to pull up organized assessments. A wound care EHR should organize documentation well. This makes information easy to reference for shift changes, referrals, and plan-of-care updates.
Referrals can be made more promptly
Time loss is tissue loss when it comes to wound care—yet referrals are commonly delayed. For example, in up to 66% of cases of diabetic foot ulcers, one of the most common wounds, referrals were delayed at least three weeks. A digital wound management system can highlight a trend of wound healing stagnation or deterioration. Necessary referrals can then be made more promptly.
Care details are easy to hand off
Efficient wound care software allows for easy-to-reference printed records. This is invaluable for faxing referrals or providing patients with a copy to take to a care provider.
IMPROVE YOUR WOUND CARE EHR—IMPROVE YOUR OUTCOMES & REFERRAL
WoundZoom offers you the efficient features your current EHR is missing. By using WoundZoom, you’re doing more than improving healthcare communication. You’re gaining:
Accurate wound measurement technology
Automated progress graphing
Fast image capturing and uploading
Integration with your current EHR
Efficient, thorough documentation supported by easy navigation
Improved communication though easy-to-reference documentation