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Simplified Communications in Healthcare Improves Care

Close-up of nurse using mobile device in hospital hallway

Clinicians face a daily onslaught of disruptions and distractions that has reached a critical level in many care settings. Care teams’ workflows are interrupted anywhere from 0.3 to 13.9 times per hour,1 leaving many clinicians stressed, distracted and susceptible to medical missteps and communications failures that negatively impact patient care.2-5


Challenges facing communications in healthcare

In busy care settings, healthcare providers often struggle to move from one clinical workflow to the next without constant distractions. Nurses and other frontline clinical personnel face a particularly acute level of disruption throughout their shifts, which can lead to inevitable “alarm fatigue” and desensitization to clinical alerts:6-8

  • Nurses receive as many as 150 alerts every day, with as little as 1% of them being relevant to a clinical workflow.6

  • In intensive care environments, nurses receive up to 10.6 alerts per hour, with a high rate of false alarms from high-sensitivity, low-specificity alerts.8

  • Care teams in the ICU can be exposed to up to 45.5 clinical alarms per hour, per subject—up to 2,184 alarms in a 48-hour period.7

This clinical noise is both distracting and a time-consuming strain on communications in healthcare. Inefficient, disjointed or delayed clinical communications can consume up to half of a nurse’s shift. Care teams spend up to 6.3 hours per shift communicating with colleagues, charting or waiting for critical patient information.9

Even as patient volumes rise rapidly across care settings, clinicians spend significant amounts of vital caregiving time simply trying to stay connected with their patients and each other—leaving that much less time to spend at the bedside.


Clinical noise puts patient outcomes at risk

Most important, disrupted clinical communications create significant risks for patients and their outcomes. Distracted, overloaded care teams are more prone to clinical missteps: up to 80% of medical errors have been linked to inefficient, ineffective care communications at key points in patient care.10

Disjointed care team communications have also been identified as a root cause of poor patient flow through hospital environments—a risk factor for overcrowded healthcare facilities and increased infection risk.3-5


More effective care starts with simpler communications

Care teams urgently need solutions that help mitigate the distracting alerts, fragmented workflows and disrupted clinical communications that characterize many care settings. Technologies that simplify clinical communications and streamline care team collaboration can play a key role in maximizing clinicians’ ability to deliver high-quality, effective and satisfying care.

These technologies can have a positive impact across clinical workflows: from minimizing distracting alerts and alarms, to accelerating insights clinicians need to treat with confidence, to helping care teams stay ahead of serious clinical complications. The right care communications solutions can help ensure a vital flow of timely, precise and actionable information delivered exactly when it’s needed to enhance patients’ outcomes—with minimal disruption to clinical workflow.


Fewer distractions, more time for caregiving

Frequent alerts and disconnected communications amplify the challenge of coordinating treatment for numerous patients across multiple settings. Care communications platforms address this challenge by unifying clinical communications with technologies that empower healthcare providers to focus on what really matters: taking care of their patients and improving their outcomes.

Unified care communications solutions combine technologies like mobile communications platforms and nurse call technologies to keep care teams connected with each other and their patients at every step. These solutions integrate and interface with existing hospital systems such as the electronic medical record (EMR) to improve care team efficiency and create more time to focus on patient care.

Mobile communications platforms transform noisy, distracting clinical alerts into timely, targeted alerts sent straight to care teams’ smartphones. Platforms like the Voalte® Mobile Solution have been proven to:

  • Combat alarm fatigue by reducing clinical alerts by up to 50%11

  • Reduce the time care teams spend communicating by up to 82%12

  • Reduce clinical communications failures by up to 59%13

Nurse call technologies streamline care team workflows by providing a unified point of access and real-time visibility into patient needs and status. By centralizing insights and automating workflows, solutions like HillromTM Nurse Call have been shown to:14-16

  • Increase caregiving time by up to 30%.

  • Decrease response time from >8 minutes to 2 minutes.

  • Increase hospital HCAHPS scores of 9 or 10 by 14%.17


Keeping the focus on what matters most

With patient loads increasing rapidly, care teams need to maximize every minute they spend in the ward. Every moment lost to distracting alarms and disjointed clinical workflows is a missed opportunity to enhance a patient’s outcome.

The right care communications solutions can help your care team minimize disruptions in patient care, and free them to stay focused on elevating care. Simplifying and unifying your team’s communications with connected care technologies like mobile communications platforms and nurse call technologies can help transform clinical noise into more efficient, responsive and satisfying clinical care. With more time to care for every patient, your care team has more opportunities to make every minute matter.


Explore more Hillrom clinical communications solutions

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5 Solutions for Simpler, Smarter Clinical Communications

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1. Hopkinson S et al. Interruptions during nurses' work: A state of the science review. Res Nurs Health. 2013;36:38–53.

2. Collins R. Clinician cognitive overload and its implications for nurse leaders. Nurse Leader. Feb 2020;18(1):44-47.

3. Litvak E. “What Is Patient Flow?” NEJM Catalyst. Available at: Published 2018. Accessed April 2020.

4. Reddy AJ et al. Impact of throughput optimization on intensive care unit occupancy. Am J Med Qual. 2015;30(4):317-322.

5. Rosman M et al. Prolonged patients’ in-hospital waiting period after discharge eligibility is associated with increased risk of infection, morbidity and mortality: A retrospective cohort analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015;15(1):1-5.

6. Schondelmeyer A, et al. Nurse responses to physiologic monitor alarms on a general pediatric unit. J Hosp Med. Oct 2019;14(10):602-606.

7. Cho OM et al. Clinical alarms in intensive care units: Perceived obstacles of alarm management and alarm fatigue in nurses. Healthc Inform Res. Jan 2016;22(1):46–53.

8. Bridi AC et al. Clinical Alarms in intensive care: implications of alarm fatigue for the safety of patients. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. Nov-Dec 2014;22(6):1034–1040

9. “Top 10 Clinical Communication Trends,” Voalte, May 2013.

10. “Improving Transitions of Care: Hand-off Communications,” The Joint Commission, May 13, 2013.

11. “Akron Children’s Hospital: Combating alarm fatigue.” Guest blog on Pub Nov 2016. Retrieved Mar 2020 from 

12. Gallot-Reeves S. “Achieving an 82% ROI with smartphones.” Guest blog on Pub Feb 2015. Retrieved Mar 2020 from 

13. Hansen JE et al. Reducing Interdisciplinary Communication Failures Through Secure Text Messaging: A Quality Improvement Project. Pediatr Qual Saf. Feb 2018 6; 3(1): e053.

14. Hillrom Customer (Central). Nurse Call interview. 2016. Data on file.

15. Hillrom Customer Interview (GC) 2016. Data on File.

16. Hillrom 2019. Scotland Memorial Hospital improves safety and satisfaction with clinical communications platform solution 209858 rev 1. Data on file.

17. SMH HCAHPS reports. 2016-2018. Customer data on file with Hillrom.