Improving Interdisciplinary Provider Communication Through a Unified Paging System

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Abstract

Objectives

Interdisciplinary communication at a Veterans Affairs (VA) academic teaching hospital is largely dependent on alphanumeric paging, which has limitations as a result of one-way communication and lack of reliable physician identification. Adverse patient outcomes related to difficulty contacting the correct consulting provider in a timely manner have been reported.

Methods

House officers were surveyed on the level of satisfaction with the current VA communication system and the rate of perceived adverse patient outcomes caused by potential delays within this system. Respondents were then asked to identify the ideal paging system. These results were used to develop and deploy a new Web site. A postimplementation survey was repeated 1 year later. This study was conducted as a quality improvement project.

Results

House officer satisfaction with the preintervention system was 3%. The majority used more than four modalities to identify consultants, with 59% stating that word of mouth was a typical source. The preferred mode of paging was the university hospital paging system, a Web-based program that is used at the partnering academic institution. Following integration of VA consulting services within the university hospital paging system, the level of satisfaction improved to 87%. Significant decreases were seen in perceived adverse patient outcomes (from 16% to 2%), delays in patient care (from 90% to 16%), and extended hospitalizations (from 46% to 4%).

Conclusions

Our study demonstrates significant improvement in physician satisfaction with a newly implemented paging system that was associated with a decreased perceived number of adverse patient events and delays in care.

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