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Leveraging data insights to strategically invest in new communication technologies

The Importance of Data in Communication Technology Investment

With communication breakdowns being highly topical, we wanted to dig into the data about specific areas of communication failure and found this extremely well-researched and detailed study.

Given its extensive scope, this study warrants a concise summary. The authors categorise communication failures into four key categories: attitude, collaboration and teamwork; effective communication skills; society and culture; and knowledge, skills, and performance. The breakdown can also be viewed through the lens of solution areas, which we did below separately for moderate and severe incidents.

Servere Incidents - data analysis

This analysis highlights that addressing clinician-to-clinician (C2C) communication failure is as important as clinician-to-patient (C2P) in terms of patient outcomes, with the third area being what I’ve called professional standards – which also impacts both C2C & C2P.

Reviewing the studies’ details has allowed us, as a leading provider of clinical communications, to better understand how well our product capability maps against those patient outcomes we most want to help avoid.

The table below illustrates the various areas of failure, their impact in terms of severe incidents or deaths, the degree of difficulty to avoid these with modern tech, and additional considerations for each type of communication failure.

Definition of Area of Failure
% of Severe Incidents or Deaths
Degree of Difficulty to Avoid with Modern Tech
Additional Considerations

The doctor has communicated or behaved in a way that has created issues amongst colleagues that they work with (both inside and outside of their team) making it harder to work collaboratively. This includes their manner in communicating with colleagues and if they have expressed themselves in an appropriate way considering different team or cultural perspectives. This might also include failure to support colleagues appropriately.

2.3%

Medium

Subject to training staff on respectful ways of communicating and routing more communication through digital channels

The doctor could not be contacted whilst on duty.

1.7%

Low

Addressed through communicating through roles and automated escalations

The doctor or patient does not communicate concerns to a person perceived as ‘senior’ or in charge. For example, a FY1 or FY2 failing to page the consultant on duty to request a second opinion

7.5%

Medium

Could be reduced with use of a modern system for communication

The doctor has not made a written or verbal referral for the patient for further investigations or treatment or put future care arrangements in place when necessary to do so.

0.6%

Low

Easy to put in place with a modern system

Failure to share information relating to the treatment that they have provided with the patient's GP or accept information, including referrals from GPs.

1.1%

Hard

Cross organisational information sharing is now technically possible

The doctor has failed to share relevant and sufficient information with colleagues to provide patient care or to make decisions about their care. This may be relating to patients they have had responsibility for/are handing over.

17.8%

Low

Patient handovers are easy with a modern system

The doctor has delayed taking action in relation to providing appropriate treatment, reporting or handover. This might include prolonging handover of a test result which a colleague requires to continue care.

4.6%

Low

Implementing next steps is easy with a modern system

The doctor failed to consult a colleague or appropriate multidisciplinary team when indicated.

5.2%

Low

Consulting specialists or colleagues is easy with a modern system

The doctor does not provide adequate supervision to staff that they are responsible for. This could be either providing direct supervision or not arranging for someone else to do this in their absence. E.g. Failing to attend hospital following the request of a trainee.

1.7%

Medium

Escalation and supervision plans are relatively simple to implement but require some planning

In conclusion, an analysis of communication failures leading to severe patient harm or death reveals that 42.5% of cases are related to clinician-to-clinician communication and 26.4% to clinician-to-patient communication. The data therefore strongly supports the investment in technologies that enhance both C2C and C2P communications.