Healthcare experts agree that coping with the pandemic requires effective communication among those working in hospitals and clinics.
How One Healthcare System Responded
An example of this occurred in the initial stages of the pandemic when hydroxychloroquine demand soared. To ensure that the drug was administered properly and to maintain adequate supplies, one healthcare system formed a treatment task force that developed general treatment and policy regulations, including guidelines for hydroxychloroquine.
A pharmacist whose focus is infectious disease took the lead in assembling the task force, assisted by intensive care specialists and other pharmacists. As more information about hydroxychloroquine surfaced and the drug’s risks became more apparent, specifically with QT prolongation, the task force communicated with providers who were prescribing the drug and informed them about the risks.
The healthcare system eventually scaled back the drug’s use, giving it only to Covid-19 patients in clinical trials and people with an approved indication. They incorporated alerts into electronic health records so that the drug would only be prescribed for these situations. Pharmacists also checked the orders to make sure the directives were being followed.
Pharmacy leaders in the 15-hospital system, including outpatient pharmacists and supply chain managers, met every day. They discussed issues with therapy and changes to therapy guidelines and presented updates to others in the group.
Their directives were then given to other pharmacy and nursing managers for review and then passed on to a central command center for distribution. Involving as many people as possible in the process created better cooperation and implementation.
Another 11-hospital healthcare system set up a central command center that became indispensable in facilitating communication among different system areas. The command center staff developed policies for how to handle emergencies and other treatment guidelines for the system.
By creating the command center, the system was able to streamline the process of setting guidelines and disseminating information and avoiding a lot of red tape.
Without effective communication, healthcare workers are sometimes left without any clear direction on handling problems, forcing them to improvise. For example, at some hospitals, when the staff had little information about the supply of personal protective equipment, they began limiting the number of times they went into patients’ rooms, moving infusion pumps into hallways, and using fewer people to move patients.
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