Improving hospital care and collaborative communications for the 21st century : key recommendations for general internal medicine

Wu, Robert C, Lo, Vivian, Rossos, Peter, Kuziemsky, Craig, O'Leary, Kevin J, Cafazzo, Joseph A, Reeves, Scott, Wong, Brian M and Morra, Dante (2012) Improving hospital care and collaborative communications for the 21st century : key recommendations for general internal medicine. Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 1(2), e9. ISSN (online) 1929-073X


BACKGROUND: Communication and collaboration failures can have negative impacts on the efficiency of both individual clinicians and health care system delivery as well as on the quality of patient care. Recognizing the problems associated with clinical and collaboration communication, health care professionals and organizations alike have begun to look at alternative communication technologies to address some of these inefficiencies and to improve interprofessional collaboration. OBJECTIVE: To develop recommendations that assist health care organizations in improving communication and collaboration in order to develop effective methods for evaluation. METHODS: An interprofessional meeting was held in a large urban city in Canada with 19 nationally and internationally renowned experts to discuss suitable recommendations for an ideal communication and collaboration system as well as a research framework for general internal medicine (GIM) environments. RESULTS: In designing an ideal GIM communication and collaboration system, attendees believed that the new system should possess attributes that aim to: a) improve workflow through prioritization of information and detection of individuals' contextual situations; b) promote stronger interprofessional relationships with adequate exchange of information; c) enhance patient-centered care by allowing greater patient autonomy over their health care information; d) enable interoperability and scalability between and within institutions; and e) function across different platforms. In terms of evaluating the effects of technology in GIM settings, participants championed the use of rigorous scientific methods that span multiple perspectives and disciplines. Specifically, participants recommended that consistent measures and definitions need to be established so that these impacts can be examined across individual, group, and organizational levels. CONCLUSIONS: Discussions from our meeting demonstrated the complexities of technological implementations in GIM settings. Recommendations on the design principles and research paradigms for an improved communication system are described.

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