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Q&A with Terry Edwards, CEO of PerfectServe

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | August 01, 2015
Terry Edwards
Health reform is all about better, cheaper, and faster. For Terry Edwards, CEO of PerfectServe, 'faster' has been a point of particular interest. HCB News spoke to him recently about the ways that health care systems are being slowed down — and what can be done to make things more efficient.

HCB News: Why is there a lack of communication between healthcare professionals?

Terry Edwards:
As our recent survey illustrated, it’s a challenge for healthcare professionals to communicate easily, securely and quickly with one another. One of the major reasons is that clinicians often don’t know who they need to contact or how to reach them. In our survey, more than half of clinicians (52 percent) said they don’t always know the correct care team member to contact in a given situation.

This finding did not surprise us, as, in our experience working with leading health systems, much of communication is role based. This can make it difficult to know who is in a role at any given moment in time because it changes. Second, clinicians are members of workgroups, e.g., hospital departments or physician practices, and each workgroup may have an algorithm that defines how it should receive communication. This complexity creates uncertainty and can delay patient care. In fact, 69 percent of clinicians responded that patient care is often delayed while waiting for important information about the patient.

In addition to complex schedules and communication preferences, clinicians are also dealing with a mishmash of communication technologies, all while worrying about privacy and security challenges. There’s also a financial aspect to all of this, and until very recently, providers weren’t paid for their time coordinating care.

HCB News: What role do HIPAA regulations play in this issue?

HIPAA plays a big role in this communication challenge. In our survey, about three in five respondents (61 percent) said HIPAA regulations pose an obstacle to communication and collaboration within the care team.

For most other industries, collaboration is as simple as sending an email or text, firing up a WebEx session, sharing a DropBox folder, or even using a collaborative app like Slack. But in healthcare, HIPAA requirements mean that healthcare professionals can’t just shoot off a quick email or send a file over through the cloud without jeopardizing protected patient health information. So, communication and collaboration become much more challenging.

HCB News: Why is good communication essential to improving population health?

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