Team Communication in Hospitals

And Why Chiefy is Not ‘Slack for Surgery’

Maya Ber Lerner
3 min readMay 5, 2022
illustration by pikisuperstar

This week I attended a fascinating webinar where a hospital executive described the implementation journey of a HIPAA-compliant chat tool in the hospital. In the age of Slack and WhatApp it’s a bit crazy that you need a 45 minutes’ webinar to explain the benefits of connecting groups of professionals through an asynchronous communication tool. But in healthcare, it’s the first harbingers of disruption.

A few interesting points:

Communication must be cross-functional

One of the lessons learned from the hospital’s experience was that cross-functional communication is critical. A chat tool in a hospital is not just ‘doctors talking to doctors’. There are thousands of employees that touch patients and need to be connected in order to provide the best care.

Communication needs to have a context

The hospital started the chat tool implementation with “let’s make this tool available to everyone in the hospital so they can communicate”. It took some time to realize that professionals needed context to communicate effectively. When the hospital finally implemented communication groups for specific use cases they started feeling the impact. They achieved good results when they created special teams for covid response, for infection control, for discussing patients that have stayed in the hospital for too long.

Culture changes first, quality KPIs follow

When asked “how do you measure quality improvement when implementing a communication tool?”, the suprising answer was that it was taken for granted that when professionals communicate, quality improvement will follow. The KPIs used were the monthly number of users and number of chat messages.

Communication needs to be easy

The hospital increased participation significantly when they decided to let all employees use the chat tool on their own phones — instead of mandating separate hospital-owned devices. This is an important trend in hospital tools.

Ad-hoc and workflow-specific communication

Chat tools are great for facilitating ad-hoc communication. But chat tools are generic — they aren’t suitable for workflow management.

Imagine a company that tries to use Slack or Microsoft Teams to digitize their product development workflow. Cross-functional team communication is a must. They need chat tools. But no one would try to manage their product development workflow with chat tools. Chat tools are obviously complementary to software that provides context and structure and is built for the job — like or Jira.

The same has to happen in the hospital. Health workers need tools that are built for the job. Tools that augment their skills and make it easier for them to do their jobs with their cross-functional teams. Tools that they choose.

Is Chiefy ‘Slack for surgery’?

No. Chiefy is more like for surgery. We built it for health workers in the perioperative workflow (i.e. pre-surgery to post-surgery). If you want to learn more on how it’s different than — and complementary to — a general chat tool like EpicChat, TigerConnect or WhatsApp, check out this comparison table.

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