Q&A: Real-time chat functionality
Q: How can real-time chat function in an electronic health record (EHR) be used? Are CDI specialists and physicians receptive to a real-time chat?
A: Generally, real-time chat functionality within the EHR is best used for specific reminders or notifications, not queries. Real-time chat can be used for alerting a provider to a certain chart, asking them to review for a specific diagnosis, and to call the CDI specialist when a verbal query can be performed. This type of chat does not interrupt patient/family conversations with the providers like a pager or phone likely will.
Real-time chat functionality can also be used for reminders that a query is still outstanding, to alert providers to a glaring typo on their documentation, setting up a time to meet and discuss a current patient, or for general education (reminders of new phrases or processes they can use). Real-time chat can also be used for communication with other team members, such as dietitians and nursing staff.
For those providers who embrace real-time chat functionality, it can work well. It can help decrease query response time and increase overall response and agree rate, and overall provider responsiveness may increase. However, as with any change in the EHR, there is always the chance that some providers will be slow to accept or acclimate to it.
For providers who do embrace it, they may find they prefer a real-time chat to a phone call or page from the CDI team. It also helps differentiate a typical CDI query from an urgent notification that requires an immediate response.