Healthcare communication issues are a thing of the present, not the past. Communication remains fragmented, with many healthcare organizations remaining reliant on landline phones, fax machines, and pagers. Furthermore, the adoption of modern communication technology is often happening in silos.

These findings are from technology company TigerConnect in its annual State of Healthcare Communications report, a survey of healthcare leaders and patients detailing the pervasive challenges in healthcare communications.

The research is an effort by the vendor to "better understand the state of healthcare communication today and how technology solutions can foster better communication and collaboration in healthcare."

The survey found 90% of healthcare organizations still use fax machines, and 39% still use pagers. Another 40% of health professionals say that it's challenging to communicate with care team members, which creates bottlenecks for patients moving through the healthcare system.

The majority of healthcare organizations — 52% — experience communication disconnects impacting patients daily or multiple times a week. Clinical staff members were nearly three times more likely than nonclinical staff to say communication disconnects impact patients daily.

“Adoption of modern communication solutions has occurred in every other industry but healthcare,” Brad Brooks, chief executive officer and co-founder of TigerConnect, said in a statement. "Even though quality healthcare is vital to the well-being of a society, the shocking lack of communication innovation comes at a steep price — resulting in delays, increased operational costs, preventable medical errors, and can even lead to death."

Survey findings suggest that healthcare technology remains legacy, fragmented, and non-mobile based. Additionally, communication is fragmented as groups across the health system all using different tools to communicate. Landlines are still used, and landline communication is the top choice of communication when secure messaging is not available — used 29% of the time.

The impacts of these modes of communication can impact care coordination, TigerConnect says, with 39% of healthcare professionals saying it’s complicated or challenging to communicate with one or more groups of care team members. The most problematic causes of delay in moving patients through the system include delayed discharge (50%), followed by consult delays (40%), and emergency department wait times (38%).

Non-synergistic communication means nonclinical staff are 68% less likely to say communication disconnects impact patients daily. Likewise, nonclinical staff members underestimate the impact communication disconnects have on throughput. Clinical respondents selected 3.2 out of five possible bottlenecks, while nonclinical respondents limited their concerns to 2.4 out of five on average.

For the study, TigerConnect conducted an online survey from July 15-31, 2019, with nearly 200 respondents who work in the healthcare industry. Healthcare employees were surveyed from a wide range of roles, including 28% clinical workers (nurses/doctors/ancillary providers), 22% C-level participants, 19% IT professionals, 18% administrative staff, 11% operations, and 2% other.