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Talking it out

Published in the July 2012 issue of Today's Hospitalist

Several stories in this month’s issue take a look at the power—and perils—of hospital communication.

Take our article that looks at research that claims that better communication can do more to improve AMI outcomes than a new cath lab. Researchers found that bolstering communication—encouraging cardiologists to talk to EMS techs, for example—made a bigger dent in AMI mortality than expensive high-tech strategies.

While talking things out is almost always a good approach, the trick is that communication in the hospital can backfire or escalate. That’s the point of another one of this month's stories that looks at a hospitalist group in Miami and its efforts to help physicians with the difficult conversations they have not only with patients, but other physicians.

By developing and practicing scripts to navigate tough talks, the group took some of the variability—and stress—out of in-hospital communications. Hospitalists say that the scripts helped make them less defensive, while patients seemed to perceive doctors as being more compassionate.

Finally, with computers fully entrenched in hospitals, no discussion of communication would be complete without a look at the growing role of technology. This month’s cover story examines the benefits—and challenges—of integrating tablet computers into the hospital setting.

Tablets like the iPad have a tremendous potential to change how physicians communicate with patients and team members and use clinical data. But not all hospitals are welcoming tablets with open arms. Some face technical issues integrating mobile computers with large information systems; others are concerned about data security.

As a result, some hospitalists have less than full access to information via their tablet—which physicians see as only a temporary setback. Hospitalists, after all, are used to overcoming communication challenges in the hospital, and the glitches they’re encountering with tablet computers may be no different.

Edward Doyle
Editor & Publisher

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