Hospitals waste $11 billion a year on inefficient communication

As care coordination gains popularity in the healthcare industry, especially within accountable care organizations (ACOs), healthcare leaders must ensure their teams of doctors, nurses and staff use the most efficient communication processes possible to protect their patients and organizations' bottom lines.

A survey from the Ponemon Institute of more than 400 U.S. healthcare providers entitled, "The Imprivata Report on the Economic Impact of Inefficient Communications in Healthcare," took a look at typical communication processes through patient admissions, coordinating emergency response teams and patient transfers.

The survey found hospitals' and health systems' workflows wasted a significant amount of time because of inefficient pagers and a lack of secure text messaging, which cost $1.75 million per hospital and more than $11 billion industry-wide.

Of the three work processes analyze, survey results revealed:

  • Admitting one patient took roughly 51 minutes, 33 of those minutes wasted due to inefficient communication, costing each hospital about $728,000 and the industry $4.67 billion a year.

  • Coordinating an emergency response team takes about 93 minutes, and on average 40 of those minutes were wasted because of inefficient communication, which translates into a $265,000 loss per hospital and the industry $1.7 billion per year.

  • Transferring a patient to another facility takes roughly 56 minutes, 35 of which are wasted because of inefficient communication, costing each hospital about $754,000 and the industry $4.83 a year.

The main reasons for wasted time while communicating with colleagues were that pagers were not efficient, text messaging was not allowed and wireless Internet access wasn't available. The survey also found that web portals, secure text messaging and electronic medical records were the most important tools within ACOs that helped achieve effective communication among stakeholders.

Direct communication is not only more efficient, it can eliminate harmful hospital noise, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the survey results (.pdf)