Remember when nurses were afraid to talk to doctors? In my early days in the profession 30 years ago, my fellow nurses and I hesitated to interrupt busy doctors as they made their rounds. When communication was essential, we chased their white coats down hallways, blasted them with overhead paging, or started a string of pages and call-backs.
Now, as I visit hospitals throughout the country, I see nurses using smartphones and text messaging to communicate with providers quickly and efficiently. The beauty of a text message is in the way it lets nurses receive a direct response so he or she can proceed immediately with patient care. We no longer need to wonder if a provider has received our page. We don’t need to feel as though we’re interrupting with a phone call while he or she is attending to a patient. And we certainly don’t need to hesitate to communicate freely and build comfortable working relationships with our colleagues.
Every hospital nurse knows situations change rapidly:
- changes in patient condition
- changes in family dynamics
- changes in discharge plans
Providers appreciate being kept up-to-speed when nurses communicate these changes in real time. Nurses appreciate seeing at a glance when a provider is busy, and being able to locate an available provider easily.
It also helps when a smartphone solution includes a visual directory with user names and photos. I can’t count how many nurses and physicians tell me how a unified directory helps them learn the names and faces of people they have worked with for years. Beyond immediate communication, smartphones with these advanced features go a long way toward building stronger relationships among the entire care team, which benefits nurses, providers, and the patients and families they serve.
How are you communicating with providers at your hospital? Post a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.