Your Guide to Understanding the Clinical Communication & Collaboration Market

10.24.18 TigerConnect Healthcare
Your Guide to Understanding the Clinical Communication & Collaboration Market

Yesterday’s HIPAA-Compliant texting apps have evolved into fully-integrated Clinical Communication and Collaboration (CC&C) solutions, but they’re not all created equal. When you’re looking for the right solution for your healthcare facility, do you know the important questions to ask?

These clinical communication tools are evolving rapidly and there are many factors to consider, making it difficult for IT decision-makers to be confident with their vendor selection.

To help pick the best system for your organization, we put together a Technical Buyer’s Guide for understanding the CC&C market and provided questions you should be asking potential vendors throughout the vetting process.

The Difference Between Secure Texting and Clinical Communication Solutions

Let’s start with the basics. It’s difficult to discern the differences between a simple secure texting application and a CC&C platform. You may think they’re pretty much the same tool, but you’ll quickly realize how advanced these solutions have become over the last few years.

Think of it this way… secure, HIPAA-compliant texting is like a screwdriver and CC&C solutions are like a multi-tool. One has a single purpose, and the other offers a wide set of capabilities to get the job done faster and more efficiently.

While secure texting does exactly what it says it does, CC&C platforms build on that functionality and provide users with the most advanced communication tool in healthcare.

Question 1: Security

Pick any news source on any given day, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a story breaking about a security breach that involves sensitive data. By now, every clinician and administrator in a healthcare setting understands the importance of protecting patient information. And yet, rampant use of unsecured short message service (SMS) apps still persists.

Today’s advanced clinical communication systems resolve these risks, keeping your organization out of harm’s way. All communications within the app itself conform to HIPAA guidelines, and administrators can set specific protocols such as pin lock and message lifespan to customize security controls.

Another point of differentiation is HITRUST certification. HITRUST is an acronym for the Health Information Trust (HITRUST) Alliance, an independent testing organization that issues the Certified Security Framework (CSF) certification to vendors who successfully pass their rigorous security evaluation. Certification indicates that an organization has met industry-defined requirements and is appropriately managing risk when protecting patient data.

Questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • Does your system support customizable levels of security?
  • Describe your system’s approach to HIPAA and other security standards compliance.
  • How do you prevent users from seeing patient data if the user is not part of the care team?
  • Does your product have HITRUST CSF certification?

Question 2: Integrations

It’s pretty simple, the more you can integrate your clinical communications with your existing systems, the easier it is to make critical data instantly accessible to anyone working at your facility. CC&C solutions do just that and more.

Open API interfaces make it easy to break down silos at your facility by allowing information to flow. This includes the EHR, nurse call, scheduling solutions, labs and answering services. You can finally empower your care teams with actionable, relevant, real-time data at their fingertips.

Questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • Does your solution integrate with electronic health records?
  • What other popular hospital systems does your platform integrate with?
  • Do you support Web SSO? How about Desktop SSO?
  • Does your product allow communication outside of those managed in our own active directory?

Question 3: Stability

If your organization has already deployed a secure texting app to support patient care, it may be time to graduate to an integrated CC&C system that your clinicians can come to depend on as much as (or more than) your EHR. But for that to happen, the system MUST be highly available. Any downtime puts your patients at risk for delays in receiving timely patient care, filling prescriptions, and routing results.

Fortunately, most CC&C systems leverage proven technologies and enjoy weeks upon weeks of uninterrupted uptime. Still, some systems will serve your organization better than others.

Questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • What’s your track record of system uptime? Is this information publicly available?
  • Is your proposed solution a cloud-based app? If so, does it run on an industry-standard infrastructure like Amazon Web Services (AWS)?
  • Describe your system backup approach in terms of frequency and completeness of the backup. Why do you use this method? Are there other options?
  • Do you offer the ability to set unique backup and retention/archiving policies?

Question 4: Connecting the Entire Health Facility

Introducing a CC&C solution into a siloed healthcare facility can be a strenuous undertaking. Depending on the vendor, an implementation can flop and further hinder communication, or thoroughly unify your facility and connect your care teams.

Selecting a seasoned vendor is crucial to assess your specific workflows and come up with a comprehensive plan to improve your communications.

TigerConnect was built with all health facility employees in mind. Both clinical and non-clinical staff can communicate and coordinate care efforts across different facility types. With the entire health system instantly accessible by text, phone or video, your care teams can deliver faster, higher quality patient care with a much lower risk of medical errors…keeping patients safe, happy, and on the road to recovery.

Questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • In what types of healthcare facilities have you implemented your solution?
  • Does your system work equally well on iOS systems and Android systems?
  • Do you work with your customers post-implementation to track user adoption, and then look for ways to increase adoption and engagement?
  • How can I access messages from different facilities if I work for more than one practice or hospital?

Question 5: Training & Support

CC&C solutions can be impressively comprehensive, especially if they offer the most advanced features, reporting tools, and integration options. Which means you’ll want to consider training and support in your purchase decision to take full advantage of the extra functionality.

If you’re considering a full-featured CC&C system, then your organization should consider training and support in order to get the highest return on investment possible. And it’s not just the end-users who will need training and support. Your technical staff will need information to help with implementation and system support.

Questions to ask a potential vendor:

  • How do you train our end-users and system administrators? Is it live and onsite? Remote and online?
  • Are there instructional videos, slide decks, and written user guides?
  • Do you provide train-the-trainer services? If so, please describe the process.
  • What level of project management support do you provide for implementation?

To better understand the Clinical Communication and Collaboration market and see more questions you should be asking vendors, download our Technical Buyer’s Guide here.