Well, more than a million patients are transferred between hospitals each year in the U.S. This process is challenging both for hospitals and patients and breakdowns in communication are common.

A recent University of Minnesota Medical School study showed that there is a lot of lost information, or changes in diagnosis, from the sending hospital to the receiving hospital.

Researchers found that 73% of patients gained a new diagnosis following transfer while 47% of patients lost a diagnosis, according to electronic records. Transfers where both hospitals participated in data sharing mechanisms such as a health information exchange, were associated with a lower rate of information loss and lower mortality

"Journal of General Internal Medicine" focuses on the patients transferring from one hospital to another and to highlight the importance of efficient communication between hospitals.

Data from more than 180,000 patients, 18 years or older, in 5 states over a 3-year period was studied. Researchers compared the chronic diagnosis before and after transfer, and the impact that data sharing had on information transfer and patient outcomes.

"In this population- which is the very high risk, the ability of two hospitals to talk to each other has the potential to improve patient safety, make care much more cost-effective, and reduce mortality," said author Michael Usher, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine.

Challenging Effective communication among healthcare professionals:

1. Healthcare is complex and unpredictable, with professionals from a variety of disciplines involved in providing care at various times throughout the day, often dispersed over several locations, creating spatial gaps with limited opportunities for regular synchronous interaction.

2. Care providers often have their disciplinary view of what the patient needs, with each provider prioritizing the activities in which he or she acts independently.

3. Healthcare facilities have historically had a hierarchical organizational structure, with significant power distances between physicians and other healthcare professionals. This frequently leads to a culture of inhibition and restraint in communication, rather than a sense of open, safe communication (psychological safety).

4. Differences in education and training among professions often result in different communication styles and methods that further complicate the scenario and render communications ineffective.

5. Although teamwork and effective communication are crucial for safe patient care, the educational curricula for most healthcare professions focus primarily on individual technical skills, neglecting teamwork and communication skills.