Failures in communication and coordination have largely been recognized as one of the most serious issues in healthcare today, but what are the exact costs and negative effects of such breakdowns? CRICO strategies, a division of the Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, published its comparative benchmarking report named “Malpractice Risks in Communication Failures” to study how specific weaknesses in healthcare communication affect patient safety. The report analyzed approximately 23,000 medical malpractice claims and lawsuits filed between 2009 and 2013. The study found that of the 23,000 cases, roughly one-third involved a communication breakdown somewhere along the healthcare spectrum. These communication failures came with hefty price tags: the total financial losses incurred by these cases were estimated to be $1.7 billion and approximately 1,700 of these cases involved a patient death.

Furthermore, the study found that errors in communication are common across all care encounters. 57% of cases reflected miscommunication between two or more healthcare providers, while 55% of cases involved patient-provider miscommunication. The communication breakdowns happen way too frequently to be simply attributed to providers’ lacking “people skills” or patients’ struggle to comprehend healthcare language. According to Heather Riah, the AVP of CRICO Strategies, “errors often occur because information is unrecorded, misdirected, never received, never retrieved, or ignored”. Put simply, miscommunication begets misinformation. Current modes and systems by which caregivers share information with patients are vulnerable and flawed.

Another study by the Ponemon Institute found that the use of fax, pagers and other outdated communication technologies cost U.S. hospitals more than $8.3 billion annually. Furthermore, a survey of 577 healthcare professionals revealed that caregivers waste more than 45 minutes per day due to inefficient communication systems, costing approximately $1 million annually for the average U.S. hospital and another $550,000 per year in lost revenue due to increased patient discharge time.

This is where Medssenger could help through an innovative healthcare IT platform that connects everyone involved in care delivery to promote better communication and coordination across all spectrums of healthcare. Medssenger utilizes action-oriented messages, tasks and workflows along with intelligent coordination and monitoring system to ensure efficient communication and prevent both patient-provider and provider-provider miscommunication. Such capability will help prevent avoidable financial costs for both providers and patients. More importantly, it will prevent avoidable negative consequences to health outcomes of patients in this increasingly value-based and patient-centered healthcare system.