Why a Massachusetts hospital promotes 'Email Free Fridays'

While many workplaces embrace the dressed-down tradition of "casual Friday," Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, an affiliate of the Boston medical center, decided to give its employees a break from a different occupational annoyance--email overload.

The concept of "Email Free Fridays" doesn't quite allow hospital staff to cut the proverbial cord, as they still can receive external emails, but it does aim to replace as many internal emails as possible with face-to-face conversations, CBS Boston reports. The idea is to free employees from the near-full-time job of sending and replying to messages, which not only can be exhausting but often creates unnecessary conflicts because of email's inability to communicate tone, according to the article.

Simply put, "the thought is that folks won't send emails, and instead they will get up and walk down the hall and talk to their peers rather than sit behind their desk," Beth Israel's Chief Information Officer Ron Rutherford told the news outlet, adding, "It has turned out to be a great success … maybe we will start a trend."

Top-notch communication skills are also vital for healthcare leaders who want to chart a clear way forward in a fast-changing industry, FierceHealthcare has reported. And improved communication among healthcare staff can produce better patient care, as research links an estimated 80 percent of the most serious medical errors in hospitals to miscommunications.

To harness this power, Baptist Hospital of Miami conducts "communications drills" among emergency department staff, a program that has helped it improve coordination particularly during code situations. Thanks to the program, "my relationships with my colleagues, our nurses and techs are stronger and more trusting," David Mishkin, M.D., told FireceHealthcare.

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