When I first started as a registered nurse at the bedside, we practiced team-nursing. This nursing model originated in the 1960s and was designed to allow a group of nurses to care for the patient in a distributed model. The team had a leader and patient care was distributed across the team to a group of patients. This model was less then effective and fragmented. A shift to primary care began a short time into my career when I moved into the intensive care unit. This model was not only comprehensive, but allowed continuity of care. A nurse was assigned to a patient over the period of his/her hospitalization and served as a primary contact for that patient and the multidisciplinary care team.
Over time, care delivery has evolved dramatically. Based upon research, a multidisciplinary framework approach became valuable. Patient-centered care includes a multidisciplinary team and patients are now involved in their care and treatment plan. Patients typically have many providers taking care of them, from primary care to specialists. On an average hospital stay, patients may interact with up to 60 care providers.
More patient data is now available and allows for actionable insights into patient history and health statistics. To leverage these insights, multidisciplinary care teams need to access the right information, at the right time and coordinate with the right people in real time, requiring constant collaboration across teams. This requires more inter-dependencies between clinicians and evolving regulatory needs for patient privacy and streamlined compliance.
Clinical collaboration tools are limited, lag and historically hinder teamwork. Disparate communication and collaboration systems are fragmented, making information hard to find and share. Care providers are asked to switch between disparate point solutions when caring for a patient and may use one tool for electronic medical records, another tool for scheduling, and yet another tool to look up information on the medications they are prescribing.
Clinicians want to provide optimal care but using antiquated collaboration tools when asked to collaborate may encourage use of consumer applications or unsecured personal devices. This practice jeopardizes patient privacy and puts hospitals at risk of being non-compliant.
Health leaders must encourage the use of modern devices and modern applications to foster a new culture of care within hospitals. Technology is fundamentally changing the way care is delivered. Some tools and systems can make this difficult and can contribute to widespread provider burnout and dissatisfaction. We should aim to provide the tools that allow providers to foster a new culture of care and ultimately help the work life health of care providers.
Organizations are using digital transformation to introduce tools and technology to providers and patients. St. Luke’s University Health Network is achieving digital transformation using Microsoft Teams as the solution for clinical communications across the network. Northwell Health is also driving innovation through the adoption of the tool as a platform for patient care coordination.
Technology can help streamline communication and collaboration, make information easier to leverage, ease the burden of time-consuming tasks, and strengthen privacy, security and compliance. As we adjust to new ways to deliver care, we must embrace change and how we collaborate with our peers.
Ultimately, with modern technology, we can empower clinicians to do their best and in doing so live up to our promise to give patients the best care possible.
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