Patient Retention: 4 Important Considerations for Greater Patient Satisfaction (Part 2)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Retention: 4 Important Considerations for Greater Patient Satisfaction (Part 2)

Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series.

In Part 1 of this topic, we examined two vital areas your healthcare facility will need to address to meet consumer demands: price transparency and corporate social responsibility.  In Part 2, we’ll explore two more areas and more healthcare solutions to help your facility improve patient satisfaction and patient retention.


Shorter Patient Wait Times

As healthcare consumers, patients are increasingly consulting online reviews before choosing a doctor.  According to a recent survey of over 4,500 U.S. patients, information about patient wait times ranks as one of the top three issues patients seek to address from online reviews.  And when it comes to seeking administrative information about a practice, patient wait times are the number one concern of online review users (with information about payment/billing coming in second; see Part 1 for ways to address price transparency).

There are many ways you can reduce patient wait times, thereby improving your facility’s online review scores.  For example, hospitals can significantly enhance the waiting experience with an effective patient tracking system that not only shortens their wait, but also keeps patients continuously updated on how long the rest of the wait will be.


Convenience

In addition to showing respect for your patients’ time, utilizing a patient tracking system like ActiveTRACK can help you satisfy the consumer’s attraction to convenience.  Here are just a few ways this technology can make a patient’s visit easier and help patient throughput run more smoothly:

  • Display Patient Wait Times- Help patients gauge their remaining wait time with a lobby display screen.
  • Text Alerts- Keep family members updated on a patient’s status with real-time notifications sent directly to their mobile phones.
  • Valet Service- Link your valet service to the discharge process, ensuring each patient’s car is immediately ready and waiting when he/she leaves the facility.

Another healthcare solution that makes a patient’s visit more convenient is bedside registration coupled with electronic signature.  This allows a patient to go directly to his/her room upon arrival and complete registration in the comfort of a bed, while signing consent forms electronically.

In today’s world, it is important for hospitals to provide both the personal care that patients need and the technology that consumers desire.  Not only will cutting-edge technology boost your customer appeal, but it will also increase patient satisfaction by making the patient experience more convenient and less stressful.

Higher patient satisfaction means better patient retention.  And if you can encourage your satisfied patients to leave positive online reviews, you may even recruit new patients to your practice.  Implementing healthcare solutions that deliver price transparency, corporate social responsibility, shorter patient wait times, and convenient, innovative technology can help you meet healthcare consumer demands and ensure that your facility is their first choice for treatment.


By Stephanie Salmich

Patient Retention: 4 Important Considerations for Greater Patient Satisfaction (Part 1)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Retention: 4 Important Considerations for Greater Patient Satisfaction (Part 1)

Posted on Wed, Nov 23, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

Current trends in the healthcare industry include the notion that patients are healthcare consumers, as well as the push to empower patients in making decisions regarding their healthcare.

While there is much debate concerning whether patients should be treated like consumers, it is clear that like consumers, patients often have choices regarding where to seek service.  It will be in a hospital’s best interest to keep this in mind when it comes to choosing healthcare solutions for greater patient retention.

So, what are patients looking for?  In Part 1 of this post, we’ll examine two key consumer concerns.

Price Transparency

In a recent Gallup poll, healthcare costs topped the list of U.S. families’ monetary concerns, with 15% listing this as their number one financial worry.  Adding to their anxiety is confusion about medical bills and how much money they actually owe.

Research conducted by Public Agenda and Social Science Research Solutions, Inc. revealed that 64% of patients would find it helpful if healthcare staff could provide an estimate of how much their bill would be for services provided; and 56% have attempted to find out how much their out-of-pocket costs would be before receiving care.

Fortunately, healthcare solutions like HealthWare Systems’ patient estimate tool can help you identify the potential out-of-pocket costs a patient may incur, providing patients with price transparency and increasing patient satisfaction with the billing procedures of your facility.

Additionally, it is important to ensure financial clearance for each patient before administering care, both for the patient’s and your facility’s own financial health.  Financial assistance screening technology can also help you address the growing monetary concerns of your patients.

Corporate Social Responsibility

While cost is often a factor in buyers’ decision making, today’s consumers are just as concerned with an organization’s propensity for social good as with the personal price they will pay to use a product or service.  In fact, 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for a brand they consider socially responsible, according to a report by The Nielsen Company.

Millennials are even more likely to make purchases with the issues they care about in mind; a Cone Communications study found that 91% of Millennials would switch brands for one associated with a cause.  As the consumers of our economy’s future, addressing the demands of this group will only become more significant for healthcare organizations looking to improve patient satisfaction and patient retention.

One aspect of social responsibility that any hospital can pursue is that of sustainability.  The Nielsen Company also reported that 58% of those willing to pay more for a socially responsible brand said they are influenced by how environmentally-friendly an organization may be.

Can your facility cut waste?  How much paper do you throw out over the course of a week, a month, or a year?  One solution is to implement an electronic healthcare forms system that can automate the selection, generation, and routing of forms wherever a patient presents and allows for form updates electronically and in real-time.  By printing forms on-demand rather than stockpiling them, you’ll save on costs and avoid the waste of old versions of forms that can no longer be used due to new revisions.


In Part 2 of this topic, we’ll explore two more areas that healthcare consumers consider important and more healthcare solutions to help your facility meet these demands and improve patient satisfaction and patient retention.


By Stephanie Salmich

Four Cutting Edge Healthcare Technologies to Drive Your Facility Forward & Improve the Patient Experience

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Four Cutting Edge Healthcare Technologies to Drive Your Facility Forward & Improve the Patient Experience

Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2016

What is the patient experience? An article featured in the Patient Experience Journal defines the patient experience as “the patient’s cumulative evaluation of the journey they have with you, starting when they first need you and based on their clinical and emotional interactions, which are shaped by your people, your processes and your physical setting, and shaped by their expectations of you.”

Hospitals are always looking to improve the patient experience with the latest and greatest healthcare technologies. Cutting edge technology sets healthcare facilities apart from their competitors. Facilities that implement modern solutions and technologies attract a certain customer as well as an elite job candidate. While impressing and satisfying physicians and hospital staff with easy to use, forward-thinking technology, you can also create a world class patient experience.

Wouldn’t you love to impress your patients, leaving them with a lasting impression and generating a larger patient return rate?

To meet the rising standards of competition within the healthcare industry, here are four cutting edge and innovative technologies to help drive your facility forward, improve patient experiences, and stay competitive in 2017 and beyond.


ADD MOBILE PHONE UPDATES & 
A REAL-TIME PATIENT TRACKING SYSTEM:

Waiting for a doctor or nurse to inform them that their loved one is out of surgery can be very nerve-wracking for waiting family members. Wouldn’t it be nice to provide them with real-time updates on their loved one’s visit sent directly to their mobile phones? Consider implementing a messaging and paging system like ActiveTRACK. A patient tracking system such as this, allows family members or visitors to receive real-time notifications regarding a patient’s entire visit, even while outside the facility.

Having a patient tracking system in place not only improves patient care within a facility, but staff members will also greatly benefit. Since patient updates are constantly communicated, interruptions to staff are virtually eliminated, such as phone calls asking where a patient is. Knowing where patients are, always, allows management to proactively direct staff and efficiently assign workers to any department in the facility that is short staffed – increasing staff efficiency drastically.



USE ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES & BEDSIDE REGISTRATION:

Putting the patient directly in a room and having the registrar go to the patient is much more customer-friendly. By offering bedside registration and the ability to sign forms via electronic signature, healthcare facilities improve the overall patient experience dramatically.

Not only are patients more satisfied, but staff can easily choose to display a consent form for the patient to sign on-demand. This is convenient and cost effective. As patients sign a digital signature device or mobile tablet, their signature is then applied to the electronic form in real-time – a paperless alternative to paper-based consents.


LINK VALET SERVICE TO DISCHARGE:

Every patient, after their trip to the hospital, looks forward to the time they get to go home. Yet the time between discharge and departure is a critical and often a tense time. By linking a valet service to the discharge process, hospitals can help patients leave on a positive, stress-free note. As patients begin the discharge process, porters will be notified with a garage number and valet ticket number ensuring the patient’s car will be waiting for them as they leave the facility.

IMPLEMENT WEB-BASED RADIOLOGY ORDERING SYSTEMS:

Radiology centers in need of eliminating re-scans and entry errors should consider a web-based ordering system that can automatically index orders and create a more accurate and efficient facility. Ordering systems allow users to submit imaging orders while simultaneously scheduling procedures with great speed and accuracy. A huge benefit of web-based ordering systems is that users can connect to multiple departments and different locations on one scheduling system. When shopping around for an ordering system, Radiology Centers should consider one that will have the greatest impact on their facility.

Consider an online ordering system that offers a point-and-click interface for physicians and staff members to easily complete online forms. Data-capture allows information to map on multiple forms at the same time for seamless indexing. An added advantage to an online ordering system is that physicians can review and complete orders created by their staff, then add their signatures electronically. Context sensitive test instructions are available for printing at the time of entry and procedure-specific information or patient instructions can also be printed directly from the order interface. Patients can then leave the office happily with their personal instructions, so they are prepared for their scheduled procedure.

New business can be generated by implementing an online radiology ordering system, by impressing and satisfying the users, setting you apart from competitors, all while helping generate more referrals.


At a time when technology is constantly advancing, it is important for healthcare facilities not to fall behind. Nowadays patients expect a certain level of sophistication in technology. The healthcare technologies you have in place can reflect on patients’ perceptions of your physicians’ competence in providing healthcare. By being on the cutting edge of technology, you can ensure a positive patient experience all while driving your facility forward!


By Samantha Willis

Revenue Cycle Management: Reducing Bad Debt & Avoiding Denials

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Revenue Cycle Management: Reducing Bad Debt & Avoiding Denials

Posted on Wed, Nov 09, 2016

Insured patients now bear more financial responsibility than they have in the past, and hospitals will need to keep this in mind when it comes to finding healthcare solutions for revenue cycle management, reducing bad debt, and avoiding denials.

Per the National Center for Health Statistics, of those with private health insurance, the percentage of people below age 65 with high-deductible health plans has increased from 25.3% in 2010 to 38.8% as of June 2016.  With the higher out-of-pocket costs of these plans, fewer patients are paying their co-payments and deductibles in full, leading to more bad debt for hospitals left with unpaid or underpaid bills.

Fortunately, there are healthcare solutions that can help hospitals better manage both self-pay and insured patient accounts.  Below are some areas in which technology can play a key role in revenue cycle management:

Pre-Arrival Solutions

It is not enough simply to pre-register a patient; you must ensure that all patients are clinically and financially cleared before they even arrive.

This process is vital to revenue cycle management and in order to complete it, healthcare workers in many facilities must bounce between multiple electronic and paper-based systems.  Not only is this inefficient, as these various systems must be checked and rechecked throughout the process to ensure all appropriate steps have been taken for every patient encounter, but also leaves too much room for error.

You can streamline the pre-arrival process by utilizing technology that captures all documentation (such as pre-authorizations, medical necessity, ABNs, insurance eligibility, and patient estimates) in a single repository, regardless of data source, and deficiency management tools that ensure all documentation is complete and accurate before the patient presents.


Error Prevention

Deficiency management is of the utmost importance when it comes to pre-arrival.  Completing the pre-arrival steps is futile if errors or incomplete data ultimately result in reimbursement denials and rework for staff down the road.

Technology like ActiveDEFENDER assists registrars with patient encounter accuracy and proactively prevents errors and fraud before these issues can snowball into problems that affect later stages in the encounter.  And HealthWare’s Coverage Finder will search the top regional payers to find potential coverage a patient may have failed to report.

Providing your staff with effective pre-arrival solutions can help them efficiently use the time prior to patient arrival to accurately gather all required information, which in turn will eliminate many of the back end surprises that affect payment delays, denials, underpayments, and bad debt.


Financial Assistance Screening

You can more effectively manage your self-pay patients’ accounts with financial assistance screening technology, like ActiveASSIST, which ensures the provider is payer of last resort by exhausting all other options first.  This system identifies the alternative funding sources a patient is most likely to qualify for and facilitates the application process.

Many patients don’t know financial assistance programs may be available to them.  By informing potentially eligible patients and helping them complete applications for multiple charity programs simultaneously, not only will you secure additional funds toward the payments you’re owed, but you will also gain your patients’ trust and appreciation as you work as an advocate on their behalf.


Workflow Automation

At some point, your facility may turn over a delinquent account to a third-party collections agency rather than continue wasting resources chasing down a patient and risk receiving no percentage of the balance owed at all. However, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, only 7.4% of medical collections are reported as settled (whether in full or for only part of the balance due).  Plus, once the agency takes its commission from accounts it is able to settle, your hospital is left with only a fraction of the percentage collected.

Automating the monitoring of your accounts can prevent them from getting to this point and help you avoid sending unpaid bills to a collections agency.

For example, ActiveDEFENDER continuously monitors each patient encounter and flags deficiencies, routes them to staff for resolution, and escalates them to management if they are not resolved within an expected time frame. ActiveASSIST monitors specific documentation requirements for each assistance program and escalates accounts that are not progressing at an acceptable pace, and flags deficiencies and assigns them to associates for resolution.

The time it takes to complete applications and other forms, follow-up with patients, and complete rework related to technical denials is a needless contributor to bad debt.  Automating your workflow can reduce the time it takes to accomplish these tasks, and even eliminate the need for some of them.  By using technology for deficiency management and to monitor requirements, your facility can ensure that accounts don’t age unnecessarily due to neglect or ignorance and that collections remain under your own control.


Hospitals wishing to improve their revenue cycle management will need to focus on verifying that scheduled care is authorized by payers before care is administered, and that the care is documented and processed appropriately for reimbursement.  Technological healthcare solutions can aid you in the above areas and help you reach your goal of reducing bad debt and avoiding denials.

 By Stephanie Salmich

Avoiding Deadly Errors When It Comes to Patient Safety

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Avoiding Deadly Errors When It Comes to Patient Safety

Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hospitals need to work very hard every day to protect their patients from avoidable errors.

Research published in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that over 400,000 people die every year from hospital errors that could have been prevented.

Among these errors are medication mistakes, which are a leading cause of patient safety incidents around the world.  Consider one scenario in which a healthcare system had an excessive supply of pre-printed, paper forms in different versions floating around its multiple facilities. If new versions of forms were ordered, the older versions ended up stockpiled and still accessible to staff. With this system in place, a staff member could unknowingly grab an old version of a form that was not up-to-date with revised medication dosage amounts. If this happened, patient care could be affected.

Illegible handwriting can be avoided with electronic healthcare forms and forms automation.

Electronic healthcare forms and forms automation can prevent handwriting issues.

Handwritten instructions regarding medication or physician orders are also cause for concern.  Illegible physician handwriting can result in pharmacists misreading prescriptions, uncertain notes in patients’ medical records, and even death. And at the very least, the need for clarification can result in delayed treatment for the patient as healthcare staff waste valuable time contacting the physician who wrote the information.

One way to easily increase patient safety and avoid similar situations within your facility is by replacing your paper forms with an electronic healthcare forms solution.

ActiveFORMS, for example, ensures consistent documentation standards by electronically updating any changes to a facility’s forms in real-time. Plus, forms are only printed when needed, so hospitals save money on storage costs and the repurposing expense of replacing older versions. Going paperless also eliminates the potential for legibility issues to affect patient safety.

Another risk patients face is having their sensitive medical information confused with other patients’. Patient misidentification opportunities arise not only during registration, but can also occur at any time throughout the patient encounter. Believe it or not, being mistakenly told that you have cancer is not something that just happens in the movies. Even worse? Receiving an erroneous clean bill of health and missing out on precious treatment time for a serious disease.

Mistakes like these can be fatal and are more common than most patients know.  Imagine being responsible for a patient ingesting medicine to which he/she is severely allergic, receiving a blood transfusion for someone else’s blood type, or undergoing the incorrect surgical procedure, all because your medical staff reviewed the wrong patient’s data before providing treatment.

Again, going paperless and automating manual processes can help you avoid these problems, protecting your patients from harm and your facility from the costly legal consequences related to medical malpractice lawsuits.  Registration and patient encounter accuracy tools can help you proactively monitor and dramatically decrease registrar errors.  With forms automation of electronic healthcare forms, documents can be pre-populated with standard patient demographic data and barcode identifiers, reducing the potential for forms to be confused between different charts. Not only do these types of technology improve patient encounter accuracy, but they also enable facilities to easily pass required JCAHO audits and remain HIPAA compliant.

Electronic healthcare forms and forms automation can greatly improve patient safety.

Electronic healthcare forms and forms automation can greatly improve patient safety.

Patients expect to leave a hospital in better shape than when they arrived. Many are unaware of the dangers described above and certainly don’t expect a hospital’s mistake to cause more harm than the illness or health condition that brought them there in the first place. Therefore, it is up to the healthcare professionals in whom they place their trust to implement healthcare solutions that support patient encounter accuracy and ensure patient safety.


By Stephanie Salmich & Samantha Willis