Report: Inefficient Communication Tools Are Costly for Hospitals
U.S. hospitals lose a total of $8.3 billion annually due to inefficient communications technology, according to a new report from the Ponemon Institute, the Wall Street Journal's "CIO Journal" reports (Boulton, "CIO Journal," Wall Street Journal, 5/7).
About the Report
The report was sponsored by Imprivata, a provider of health care security software and services.
For the report, Ponemon surveyed 577 health care and health IT professionals at medical facilities that ranged in size from having fewer than 100 beds to having more than 500 beds (Mearian, Computerworld, 5/7). The survey was conducted in March and April (Kavilanz, CNN Money, 5/7).
Findings on Communications Tools
The survey asked participants about the challenges they encounter in using communications tools, finding that:
- 52% of respondents said that pagers are inefficient;
- 39% said that Wi-Fi is not available;
- 38% said that their email system is inefficient;
- 36% said that text messaging is not allowed; and
- 28% said that personal mobile devices are not allowed.
Findings on HIPAA's Effects
The survey also asked participants about the effects of complying with HIPAA, finding that:
- 85% of respondents said that HIPAA reduces the amount of time available for delivering care;
- 79% said that HIPAA makes accessing electronic patient data difficult;
- 59% said that the complexity of HIPAA requirements were a major barrier to modernizing the health care system; and
- 56% said that HIPAA restricts the use of electronic communications.
Findings on Time Spent Communicating
Survey participants also answered questions related to time spent communicating. The survey found that:
- Clinicians said they waste an average of 46 minutes daily as a result of using outdated communications technology;
- Clinicians estimated that only 45% of each workday is spent with patients, with the remaining 55% being spent communicating and collaborating with other clinicians, as well as using electronic health record systems and other IT tools; and
- 65% of respondents said that they believe that secure text messaging could cut patients' discharge time by 50 minutes (Computerworld, 5/7).
Findings on Costs
The report estimated that inefficient communications technology causes the U.S. hospital industry to lose:
- More than $5.1 billion annually as a result of decreased physician productivity and the decreased time that physicians have available to spend with patients ("CIO Journal," Wall Street Journal, 5/7); and
- About $3.2 billion annually as a result of lengthy patient discharge times (Computerworld, 5/7).
Comments on Findings
Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute, said that HIPAA is hindering hospitals' adoption of advanced communications technology.
He said that HIPAA places strict requirements on electronic hospital communications, such as information shared through tablets and smartphones. Such requirements are a major reason why pagers -- which are one-way communications tools -- still are heavily used by hospitals, he said ("CIO Journal," Wall Street Journal, 5/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.