The healthcare industry as a whole is frequently pressured to be as effective and efficient as possible. Yet, physicians in both general care and specialist facilities often spend more time on paperwork than they do on helping patients because of how convoluted and difficult the filing requirements for patient health information, health insurance payment data, and medical inventory management can be. At the 2019 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference, Microsoft revealed some features for their Office 365 and Teams software that could help streamline and improve these kinds of tedious healthcare processes.

Microsoft Teams is one of the most powerful business collaboration tools on the market. (Is Microsoft Teams right for your business?) By incorporating Office software and enabling collaborative editing on Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, Teams makes it easy for almost any organization to improve their efficiency. For healthcare organizations, the ability to collaborate is especially important, as physicians share their treatment plans and patient charts between departments in a multidisciplinary hospital setting.

Here are a few Microsoft Teams best practices to help multidisciplinary clinics get the most out of teams and maximize process improvement in healthcare.

Microsoft Teams for Healthcare Features

1. Custom Templates for Frequently-Diagnosed Conditions

In healthcare, little delays for generating paperwork can really add up. In particular, creating notes for frequently-diagnosed conditions can be a massive time sink for physicians in all specialties.

For example, say it takes you five minutes to write a note for a sprained ankle or torn meniscus in a sports clinic. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? However, if you see just twelve patients in a day, that’s an hour of paperwork right there.

To help save time on frequently-diagnosed conditions, it can help to create a custom note form where all you have to do is fill in a few blanks for the specific patient visit. This can help to minimize the time sucked away by paperwork so you can focus on helping more people.

2. Avoid Physician Burnout

Physician stress and burnout is a constant concern in the healthcare industry. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), there is, “An overall physician burnout rate of 44 percent, with 15 percent saying they experienced colloquial or clinical forms of depression.” When healthcare providers are overstressed to the point of burnout, their quality of care drops and healthcare processes suffer for it.

To help create and sustain process improvement in healthcare, hospitals need to give their physicians some well-earned time off. But, what happens to the doctor’s workload and responsibilities while they’re away? Patients may still need help and advice from their physician—or, their colleagues may need access to their specialist skills.

One Microsoft Teams feature that can be handy for giving your physicians a break without disrupting your clinic’s processes is message delegation. By leveraging message delegation in Microsoft Teams, you can set it up so that while specific physicians are on vacation, messages being sent to them are automatically sent to a designated substitute—such as someone else in the same specialty or an administrator.

3. Schedule Management Tool

Even the most reliable people can forget when they’re supposed to be on shift—especially if their schedules keep changing from one week to the next to accommodate the semi-chaotic availability of some specialists.

Microsoft Teams features a schedule management tool that makes it easy to both create and actively track everyone’s schedules within a multidisciplinary clinic. This way, administrators can rest easy knowing that all of their practice’s critical departments are properly filled at all times. Meanwhile, caregivers can check their schedules on a moment’s notice in the Microsoft Teams app on their computer or smartphone.

4. Custom Channels for Different Teams and Shifts

One of the most important Microsoft Teams benefits is the ability to create custom “channels” in Teams so that different groups of people in a clinic can easily communicate with one another. Healthcare facilities can create designated channels for individual team members to communicate with one another with ease. Channels can then be customized with team-specific apps and tab pins to make it easier for them to find and use frequently-needed tools. Leveraging these custom channels to their fullest potential is a key best practice for improving healthcare processes and workflows.

For example, you could create a custom channel just for nurses in your healthcare facility to allow senior personnel to share important updates to the entire nursing staff. Or, you could create a channel just for oncologists or pediatricians in your practice so they can easily communicate and collaborate with their team members about patient diagnoses.

Creating custom channels for specific teams in your healthcare facility can help ensure consistent communication and collaboration while improving healthcare processes.

5. Prioritize Notifications and Patients

Some notifications are more important than others—especially in healthcare. Priority notifications are a core Microsoft Teams feature for healthcare providers for a number of reasons.

First, and foremost, they can provide an alert for a patient that’s in critical condition. For example, say Doctor Ingvall has a heart patient who is being held for observation. If that patient goes into critical condition while the doctor is away, and that doctor has important knowledge that is crucial for the patient’s treatment, a priority notification from the Teams app can help alert Dr. Ingvall to the situation so he can respond quickly.

Second, they can be used to help prioritize important information requests between team members. Say a patient is due to go into surgery in a few days with a new physician who is in a different specialty from their usual care provider. Using Teams, the specialist can send a priority notification to the patient’s normal caregiver to request any details about the patient’s treatment plan that might not be in their documentation that may be pertinent to their upcoming surgery. This can help the new surgeon prepare a pre-treatment preparation plan for a faster post-op recovery and reduce the risk of complications during surgery.

6. Smart Camera Optimization

Doctors can take a picture on their smartphone and upload it through the Microsoft Teams for healthcare app. Teams can auto-crop the image to showcase only the most relevant data as needed. This helps save time and effort of image processing.

7. FHIR Electronic Health Record Integration

EHR systems are vital for sharing patient data in a multidisciplinary healthcare facility—ensuring that everyone knows what medications and treatment regimens each patient is undergoing. Microsoft 365 for healthcare now has an integration for FHIR-enabled EHRs to allow doctors to quickly and securely update patient information.

These are just a few Microsoft Teams best practices for streamlining and improving healthcare processes. For more info about using Teams and Office 365 for healthcare practices, schedule an introduction with the Protected Trust team today!

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