Patients and their family members associate hospitals and health systems with health care and advancing wellness. So, when an unexpected regression in that care occurs, it’s a disconcerting experience. No one wants to leave the hospital in poorer health than when they arrived—or worse, not leave at all.
Unfortunately, errors, accidents, injuries, and infections are all internal complications health systems must consider. The good news is health systems have an effective tool with which to immediately address internal issues before they turn into a runaway train. That tool is email.
Internal Complications Impact External Impressions
Errors, accidents, injuries, and infections are all internal complications health systems must consider.
From medication and surgical mistakes to high readmission rates, the hospital at fault not only has to address medical malpractice concerns—they must also deal with a potentially devastating PR disaster. These instances factor into ranking valuations, like U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospital List or Consumer Reports assessments. But, even before those scores are revealed, additional online rating sources and social media outlets may spread negativity like wildfire, damaging a health system’s reputation.
Email’s Power to Effect Change
A serious internal offense will likely require a series of steps for it to fully resolve. However, in the immediate “now,” email can relay important information without delay. Instead of playing the blame game, administrators should employ email as a proactive course of action to provide all necessary instruction for prevention of future errors.
In order for email to be powerful enough to effect change, there are a few things to consider—particularly in regards to an email list.
1) Internal contacts vs. third-party provided data: Health systems maintain staff contact lists; it would be remiss not to. But, oftentimes these internal databases are incomplete or contain inaccurate information. Alternatively, implementing a physician list that’s been first-party sourced, authenticated, certified by a third party auditing process, and updated daily ensures the data in your hands is free of oversights.
Hospitals have an effective tool with which to address internal issues before they turn into a runaway train: email.
2) Standard email address vs. preferred address: Most health systems assign a standard email address “formula” to all staff in order to keep contacts simple and straightforward. This doesn’t guarantee physicians will consistently use (or check) that email inbox. In fact, many prefer to receive information to their personal inboxes. Again, a third-party list like mentioned above will have already identified which email address is a doc’s favored one, even if that list contains multiple addresses per physician.
3) Limited data points vs. complete physician profiles: A health system’s contact list is typically just a clerical record. It likely doesn’t contain much more information past a name, email address, and phone number; possibly which department staff falls under. With a more detailed index, one that includes data points such as NPI number, specialty, practice location, case mix, and referral patterns, communications can be precisely targeted to address the issue at hand.
Engage Physicians In All Conversations, Not Just Critical Ones
Email is the most practical approach for supporting and fostering overall adherence to proper procedure.
In addition to urgent communications, email is also the most practical approach for supporting and fostering overall adherence to proper procedure and is especially helpful if a health system is geographically dispersed across a state (or nation). When used consistently as a mode of conversation, physicians become “conditioned” to recognize email’s significance, and they’re more likely to engage in every type of conversation—not just the critical ones.
Let email help your health system maintain quality so you’re less likely to have to stop that runaway train.