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Outmoded methods of communication between caregivers may be responsible for significant amounts of wasted time during shifts, resulting in inefficient patient transfers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year, according to a new survey.  

Conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of healthcare communication firm Imprivata, the survey found that the use of pagers in healthcare is a primary factor in delays during patient transfers, admissions and emergency response coordination. Slightly more than half of respondents said pagers are not efficient. Another 39% indicated that text messaging — something the study found could save time and money — is not allowed at their facility. 

Other reasons given for poor communication at healthcare facilities included a lack of Wi-Fi and the “inefficiency” of email and faxing. Respondents reported working in multiple settings: 81% in acute care hospitals, 37% with skilled nursing, 29% at urgent care facilities and 28% at long-term care facilities. 

Transferring patients from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility, home care, hospice or other setting takes slightly less than 56 minutes, the survey found. Of this, 35 minutes is wasted through inefficient communications. 

Nearly half of respondents indicated that communication delays occur when trying to coordinate with either a clinical liaison to external facilities, or when trying to work directly with clinical, administrative or operational staff at the other facility. By using secure text messaging, nearly 20 minutes could be saved during patient transfers, report authors said. 

The average number of patient transfers per day based on responses to the survey was 99.2. Assuming a combined rate of $35.35 per hour for clinical and medical administration personnel, facilities are wasting $735,755 per year through inefficient communication, researchers asserted.