We all love the word “free.” Whether it’s BOGO groceries at the supermarket, 2-for-1 happy hour drinks or oil changes for life, free stuff is hard to beat. But some things in life are never really free. Puppies are one. Clinical communication solutions are another.
If you’re being told that a clinical communication solution is “included” with your EMR or your handheld devices, you’re not getting the whole story. Just like a cute puppy, these “free” texting apps and alerting systems come with an extensive list of expenses that you’ll be stuck with for the long term. Even worse, a “thrown in for free” communication solution could be years away from being fully implemented. Imagine the loss in value when you have a solution sitting unused for an extended period of time.
Let me be clear: The electronic medical record is a foundational component of the healthcare ecosystem. We are pleased to partner with all the major EMR vendors to integrate Voalte Platform in a way that enables our customers to make the most of both systems. When you integrate a powerful communication platform with your EMR, your care teams benefit from having the most up-to-date patient information at their fingertips, plus immediate access to the entire team caring for that patient.
If you’re tempted to roll your clinical communication solutions into your EMR, you should carefully consider all the potential ramifications:
- Be sure you know exactly which features are included in your EMR vendor’s secure texting solution today, versus what might be planned for future release. Our customers tell us that well-designed features – such as native voice integration, text conversation retention and deletion, flexible alarm delivery endpoints, and on-call schedule integration – are critical to ensuring seamless clinical workflows.
- Voice communication is essential – and complicated. While Voalte customers use secure texting for the bulk of their care team communication, many situations, such as physician orders, require a phone call. We wish that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies were easy to implement and maintain in the complex healthcare environment, but our ten years of experience tell us otherwise. A secure chat app and a basic dialer for voice won’t give you a comprehensive directory or features like exclusive role extensions and phone number masking, which are necessary for your care teams to have everything they need in one complete solution.
- Your communication solution is a mission-critical system that not only ensures the smooth functioning of your clinical staff but also impacts the safety of your patients. Can you really afford to have that system down for four hours or more every time your EMR requires an upgrade?
- Ask your EMR vendor how their communication solution will affect the other modules you already have connected. You may be surprised by the services and software costs for the upgrades necessary to make a new communication module work with existing components.
Again, your EMR is crucial to your healthcare organization, and you can depend on it to deliver the following functions:
- Data collection
- ADT patient information
- Patient charting and legal record
- Data sharing with the care team
- Critical lab results
- Billing and insurance
A comprehensive communication platform delivers very different functions, such as:
- Streamlined clinical workflows
- Patient-centric communication
- HIPAA-compliant text messaging
- Alarm and alert management
- Wi-Fi and cellular voice connections
Our customers are using Voalte smartphones for care team communication and collaboration that relies on the critical information contained in the EMR. Major medical centers such as UCSF Health and leading pediatric facilities such as Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta are realizing positive results from integrating their EMR apps with Voalte Platform, thus enabling the delivery of critical patient data directly to the appropriate caregiver, who can then communicate with the entire care team for the quickest possible response.
Just like major automobile manufacturers that throw in free oil changes with a $50,000 vehicle purchase, EMR vendors are huge companies that are going to make money one way or another. When you’re researching the best communication solution for your caregivers, don’t fall for the fallacy of free.
Trey Lauderdale is Founder and CEO of Voalte.