Helping Clinicians Gain More Control Over Their Time

For Rishi Sarna, MD, Chief Clinical Officer at Backline, communication is central. He points out that communications have lagged behind everything else in medicine, and are holding back progress in patient care and the physician experience.  In the video interview below, we sat down with Dr. Sarna and Jackie Rice, VP and CIO at Frederick Health, to discuss these challenges and Frederick Health’s work with the Backline team to address them.

Dr. Sarna admitted that, traditionally, doctors have routinely sent photos over unprotected message channels to get consultations. This was a violation of HIPAA, but the doctors on both sides of the communication recognized it as crucial to patient care. With Backline, such transmissions can still continue, but they can be done in a HIPAA-compliant manner that doesn’t put the doctor or organization at risk.

In addition to the compliance benefits, a qualitative improvement that messaging offers, over the traditional use of phones and pagers, is the ability to share tasks across teams. Instead of sending an urgent message to a single doctor, who may be busy with a procedure, a service such as Backline can notify whoever is on call at the time, and the recipient can find the person best suited to handle the problem at that moment.

Phone calls can still be used for emergencies and for informal consultations. But Dr. Sarna explains how the secure messaging service can transmit large amounts of useful data efficiently.  Plus, it’s worth noting that Rice has not heard of problems with message overload since deploying the service.

A “care continuum” might range from the initial visit through referrals, imaging, surgery, post-op, and rehab. Dr. Sarna points out that this chain is not “linear,” because specialists can detect the need to change the treatment plan at various points, and the changes must be communicated back to others on the team. Backline can make sure all are “on the same page.”

Ultimately, a service such as Backline puts doctors more in charge of their time. They don’t have to interrupt a patient interview, for instance, to take a phone call about another clinical matter. This has positive effects on burn-out, mental health, and effectiveness.

Check out our interview with Dr. Sarna from Backline and Rice from Frederick Health to learn more about how they’re helping to improve communication and improve the clinician experience.

Learn more about Frederick Health:

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