Hospital Budgets Exposed: Analysis Reveals an Easy Savings Opportunity

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Hospital Budgets Exposed: Analysis Reveals an Easy Savings Opportunity

Posted on Fri, Jan 22, 2016

Hospital budgets are notoriously complex. So, like any large organization, the average hospital or health system is wasting money—usually in hundreds of small, inconspicuous ways.

Food waste, for example, makes up about 10 percent of a hospital’s overall waste stream, according to the American Hospital Association. With better menu planning and preparation techniques, much of it can be eliminated. Similarly, improper waste management can cost a typical hospital tens of thousands each year—as biohazard waste costs an estimated $963 per ton to process, compared to $121 per ton for regular waste.

Why does so much avoidable spending persist? Part of the problem is that healthcare “waste” (examples above notwithstanding) isn’t always so clearly defined. Another challenge is trying to assign concrete dollar amounts to suspected inefficiencies. Leaders can’t easily quantify the line item expenditure or the slice of revenue that’s lost when patient wait times, for example, go unchecked.

But there is one type of healthcare cost that’s easy to measure and completely unnecessary in today’s hospital budgets: manual processing of faxes/physician orders.

Yes, some referring physicians still rely on fax. And yes, many health system facilities—even those with the latest hospital information systems—can’t readily exchange documents like physician orders, insurance papers, or third-party test results. Instead, they’re gathering these physical files from disparate fax trays; making copies to be shared with other departments; scanning and saving files individually—usually without any consistent naming conventions or audit trails…

It’s not difficult to add up the volume and cost associated with all this manual processing. So that’s exactly what we did.

In partnership with one of our newest clients, we created an ROI analysis to show exactly how much could be trimmed from even small hospital budgets (75 beds in this case), thanks to a paperless document management solution. Take a look at fax processing costs for the Lab alone:

Next, we explained how to leverage ActiveXCHANGE, our leading-edge fax management solution, which eliminates manual processing, streamlines time-consuming follow-ups and order rejections, and puts an end to lost or misfiled records.

Finally, here’s the bottom line, which equates to a 2.83x ROI. (Keep in mind, these figures don’t include the additional savings on fax consumables and fax machine maintenance. They also don’t include “soft” savings that come with greater patient satisfaction—the result of faster, more efficient encounters from registration to discharge.)

Surprised? Now it’s time to see how much your facility or health system could save…

Click the button below, and in 15 minutes we’ll demonstrate how you can be a hero to your boss, your staff, and your hospital budget.

Patient Tracking Advice Every Hospital Leader Should Read

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Tracking Advice Every Hospital Leader Should Read

Posted on Thu, Jan 14, 2016

Patient tracking and patient flow solutions are known for helping hospitals increase their service capacity and improve patient experiences.

According to the California HealthCare Foundation, “the benefits of implementing patient flow solutions are fairly well documented. They include increased throughput, decreased average length of stay, improved recording of treatment costs (charge capture)…and higher patient satisfaction ratings.”

In addition to the immediate, tangible payoffs for registration/RCM teams, one HIMSS official, quoted in BizTech Magazine, calls patient tracking technology “the Holy Grail for clinicians,” too.

This month, we spoke to Amanda Hayes, Regional Director of Patient Access for the South Suburban region of the Presence Health system. Hayes outlined her experience with patient tracking solutions—from the improvements her facilities have gained thanks to (shameless plug) HealthWare Systems tools, to the misconceptions some hospitals have about EHR adoption and functionality.

Which HealthWare products are you using?

We use ActiveXCHANGE (formerly ActiveFAX) across all our facilities. We use ActiveFORMS and ActiveQ at about half of our facilities. Right now we’re using ActiveTRACK at St. Joseph Medical Center, but we’ll probably expand on that in 2016.

Where have you seen the biggest improvements?

ActiveXCHANGE allows us to be more efficient across the entire health system, because all sites now have eyes on faxes.  Everything is in our central repository. It’s led to much better physician and patient experiences.

With ActiveTRACK , we’re now able to tell patients in real time how long they’ve been waiting, how long before the exam, etc. We can offer a higher level of service by putting information in the hands of a concierge person, who can then have a conversation.  They know who’s waiting, why they’re waiting, how long the wait will be… After a threshold of 10-15 minutes, we go tell the patient what’s going on. In the old world, it was really dependent on a patient to come up and ask. Now we can be proactive in explaining and asking if there’s anything we can do. We have a much better rapport with patients now.

In addition to providing incredibly effective solutions, how does HealthWare Systems stand apart as a healthcare software vendor?

They really work with us on training. They trained our entire workforce on site. The HealthWare team is very respectful of our busy operations, offering multiple classes to accommodate different schedules. On  the day we go live , they are right there to help us make any changes and avoid delays.

Were any of HealthWare’s products customized to suit your unique needs/workflows? How has that process been?

Yes, and they’ve been extremely helpful. Our  women’s clinic offers a good example. Within that clinic we offer many different services that need to be coordinated with multiple physicians. HWS helped us customize the workflow of a patient who is coming for breast cancer treatment specifically, to flow the process all the way from check-in to midday—or possibly a full day of procedures.  Prior to ActiveTRACK, we literally lost patients within the clinic while they were waiting on something. That had to be fixed. These patients are going through a lot as it is.  Now we can check in with them at regular intervals. puts their anxiety at bay.

Why do you think more hospitals and health systems haven’t discovered the benefits of ActiveTRACK and HealthWare’s other patient experience/revenue cycle solutions?

A lot of hospitals are moving to Epic, and Epic sells itself as a one-stop shop. In reality, their patient waiting module doesn’t do patient paging between hospital departments, or when a patient is waiting for a registrar. It doesn’t do threshold management. There’s no display board or patient-friendly view of what’s going on…

Meditech doesn’t have any comparable feature, as far as outpatient tracking is concerned. It doesn’t page out any thresholds or issue alerts. You would literally have to have eyes on the board at all times.

When some EHRs are saying, “we have patient tracking,” it makes it much more difficult for a revenue cycle person to get signoff on an outside solution.

So would you say some hospitals aren’t clear on what exactly EHRs can do, and what they can’t do?

I think most facilities are evaluating EHR options purely from a clinical perspective. They don’t evaluate RCM functions or patient experience; all are very poor on the frontend.

How do you approach senior management when you want to buy this kind of solution? What do they want to know?  How do you overcome their objections?

Usually I work with the vendor to compile an ROI statement that I can present to executive leaders.  HealthWare Systems was helpful, by the way, in putting that together. They have clear return-on-investment projections, and they’re willing to work with you to show what those could mean for your revenue. They gave me all the data to present to my executive team.

Want more real-world information in patient tracking? Listen to this recorded webinar/case study.