The Three Categories of Communication Systems in Healthcare
Although there are many types of communication systems in healthcare, they generally fall into three categories – provider-to-provider, provider-to-patient, and internal. Internal communications include all forms of staff messaging, from requests to cover vacant shifts to emergency notifications.
In 2006, Dr. Enrico Coiera published an article in the Clinical Biochemist Review – Communication Systems in Healthcare – in which he wrote “if information is the lifeblood of healthcare, then communication systems are the heart that pumps it”. Inasmuch as the article was ahead of its time, it is unlikely Dr. Coiera could have conceived how quickly communication systems in hospitals would evolve.
Three years after the publication of the article, Congress passed the HITECH Act which incentivized the meaningful use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). As a consequence, EHR adoption increased from 3.2% per year to 14.2% per year within six years. Then, in 2013, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule resulted in covered entities implementing communication systems that ensured the security and integrity of ePHI.
Communication Systems in Hospitals Continue to Evolve
Communication systems in hospitals continue to evolve in order to improve the delivery of healthcare and enhance productivity. For example, there are now systems for processing referrals, test results, and prescriptions; and systems for collaborating on patient care and aftercare with the objective of reducing readmission rates – which are also incentivized under the Hospitals Readmission Reduction Program.