Doctors, nurses, and health professionals are like monoliths of information and experience when it comes to how the human body functions and heals. As impressive as these meticulously trained healers can be and despite technological advances in EHRs and medical computers, they’re still only human. Even medical professionals can overlook or lack knowledge on a niche field of medical science. And in cases like these, clinical collaboration and a second, sometimes third pair of eyes can go a long way! 

What is Clinical Collaboration?

Clinical Collaboration is exactly what it sounds like: the collaboration of different specialists and physicians from different healthcare facilities towards better patient care. 

Collaboration between multiple facilities can be immensely helpful in cases where a specialist’s experienced opinion is necessary to crack the case of an elusive diagnosis. Of course, it’s not as simple as one doctor simply grabbing their cell phone and ringing up a friend in a facility just one town over. There is a myriad of considerations that need to be made when choosing to collaborate with different healthcare providers. 

That said, when patient data security, timely care, and accuracy are all equally pressing, what hardware and software is needed for facilities ready to set up their own clinical collaboration system?  

Telehealth Devices

Telehealth isn’t just a means of communication between patients and physicians, healthcare providers can employ it to speak to specialists hundreds of miles away for help with difficult patients. In emergency cases where speed is key, shortening the distance between specialists who need to collaborate towards a patient’s care is very much appreciated. 

Take, for example, a patient suffering from a stroke. Treatment in the case of a stroke needs to be administered almost immediately, meaning any doctor on hand needs to be able to help. Fortunately, if a neurologist isn’t available, doctors who are can quickly communicate with one in real time using the appropriate telehealth hardware. 

“Tumor Boards,” or meetings between groups of doctors for the purpose of discussing and sharing information on cancer cases, also stand to benefit with the inclusion of telehealth devices. Bringing a multitude of specialists such as radiologists, pathologists, surgeons, and more together into one room becomes as simple as entering a secure teleconferencing chat room. 

As far as necessary tech, high resolution screens are a must. This holds especially true if physicians are sharing MRI and CTI scans where a single missed pixel could spell the difference between an accurate diagnosis and an inaccurate one. Aside from that, having computers that are mobile and easy to transport can make moving into a conference room for telecommunicating much simpler. To that end, having multiple peripherals such as RFID scanners and webcams outfitted onto the computer or medical tablet can make transferring the device a breeze.

HIPAA Compliant Messaging Apps

When we talk about clinical collaboration, we aren’t talking about any old information being shared between physicians. What’s being shared is immensely sensitive and personal patient healthcare data. And it’s never been a better time to invest in proper patient data protection. According to the Protenus Breach Barometer, breached patient records tripled from 2017 to 2018 and have only increased in 2019 as well.  

Naturally, you can’t just slap a patient’s information into an email and send it off to a professional for a second opinion. You’re going to want to ensure your facility’s cybersecurity practices are up to snuff. More specifically, you’ll want to make sure your messaging is HIPAA compliant.   

Fortunately, HIPAA compliant texting apps are out there that protect electronic health information without hindering communication between healthcare facilities. Many of them include protective features designed to safeguard patient information against cybercriminals and attacks. Certain features include automatic deletion of messages after a set period of time or forced identity authorization in order to reach sent information. Some even include remote wiping, meaning lost phones, computers, and tablets can have all sensitive data wiped clean regardless of location and without hassle.     

Digital Pathology 

Pathology is a very common and incredibly useful practice for both the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Digital pathology takes this process of studying tissue slides and samples and completely digitizes it. Not only does this allow for much quicker and more streamlined sharing of findings due to the ease with which digital slides can be transferred electronically, it also greatly improves the accuracy of diagnosis. 

This ease of sharing becomes very applicable for a physician who needs a specialist’s expert opinion on biopsy slides in a timely manner. Better yet, using the secure messaging infrastructures we mentioned above, sharing these findings and insights becomes as secure as it is accurate. 

Of course, whether your facility plans on taking or receiving digital pathology scans, having the right hardware will help immensely. To start, special attention should be paid to the kind of scanners that are being used in your facility. Digital scanners can ensure your facility is taking as high quality a scan of biopsied tissue as possible. This goes a long way towards improving diagnosis accuracy within your own facility. Furthermore, it makes clinical collaboration noticeably less stunted since physicians will have higher res images with which to provide their own more accurate care predictions. 

Furthermore, a 4K medical display works in tandem with a high quality digital scanner to improve the accuracy of diagnoses made with digital pathology. Having a high def screen will ensure slides that your team is looking over won’t be muddied by poor resolution. As if that wasn’t reason enough, the right monitor can also be armed with antimicrobial properties and sealed against outside contaminants, meaning the device will aid clinical collaboration efforts while also adding to the overall safety and sanitation of your facility. A real win-win.         

Better Care Through Collaboration 

Two heads are better than one, and three or four more aren’t necessarily a bad thing either! Unfortunately, much like the act of clinical collaboration itself, preparing for healthy communication between healthcare facilities is a team effort. Each provider needs to do their part to ensure they are technologically equipped to share, receive, and protect critical patient data. To learn more about the necessary hardware, contact an expert at Cybernet today.