13 November 2015

Coordinated communications key to reducing wasted time and resources in healthcare

NurchatAs care and staffing budgets become stretched ever tighter, reducing wasted time and resources has become a critical priority for many in the healthcare sector. Coordinated communications between departments, services and patients could be key to reducing waste according to nurses in a recent #NurChat twitter discussion.

Both student and qualified nurses came together on #Nurchat to share the resources they have witnessed being wasted and to offer ideas on how to reduce it. Efficient and coordinated communication can solve a multitude of the wastage issues raised, which included poor management of consumables, costly equipment from a small range of supplies and patients missing appointments. 

The repetition of tasks through poor communication or a lack of appropriate information sharing within the MDT can not only cause wasted time and resources, it can also negatively impact the patient. They may not feel their care is properly coordinated and could feel disconnected from their care team. Even ward handovers could be made more efficient by ensuring key points in the care of every patient are communicated.

Delayed hospital charges could also be considered a waste of resources that could be used for other patients. If the individual has been assessed as well enough to be discharged, it’s also in their own interests to leave hospital as soon as possible.

Wasted consumables, medication and printing were also identified in the #NurChat as potential areas of wastage that could be reduced. It was suggested that out of date medication could be directed to the clinical trainers for educational purposes rather than simply destroyed. Reducing paper printing, or even the eventual paperless environment, could also save energy and improve the efficiency of communication. 

The methods of communication were also discussed at length. Many suggested that email is too frequently relied upon to deliver vital information, which can end up not being seen by the necessary people. It’s an issue that resonated with many of the #NurChat participants, some of whom also felt that the excessive copying of emails to colleagues created a vast amount of wasted time when sifting through them.

Patients themselves also cause resources to be wasted by failing to keep appointments. However, this could be improved by more effective communications including email or SMS reminders. One #NurChat participant remarked, "We're in 21st century where communication fast & easy but NHS still using 20th century technology”.

The next #NurChat discussion is on 24th November 2015 at 8pm GMT.