Health Observances: 12 Months of Patient Engagement & Patient Education

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Health Observances: 12 Months of Patient Engagement & Patient Education

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Health observances create ample opportunities for your facility to reach patients, stay relevant, and both improve patient engagement and improve patient education.  Here is a month-by-month list of ideas to help get you started:

Prepare for 2018 with this month-by-month guide to health observances.

Prepare for the year with this month-by-month guide to health observances.

JANUARY is National Blood Donor Month.  There are fewer blood donors during the winter months due to inclement weather, illness, and the busy holiday season.  To help prevent blood shortages and include your patients in the cause, hold a blood drive at your facility.

FEBRUARY is National Children’s Dental Health Month.  Collaborate with a local dentist to create a presentation on the impact oral health has on overall well-being and invite your patients to attend.  Attending educational events can greatly improve patient engagement.  You can also download posters and fun dental health-related activity sheets for kids on the American Dental Association’s website.

MARCH is National Nutrition Month.  Offer healthy cooking classes as a fun way to improve patient education about nutrition.

APRIL is National Humor Month Improve patient education about the importance of humor for health and well-being with the Decorate-A-Smiley Project.  Children (and adults) can decorate smiley faces in the waiting room and you can display them for all patients to see.  Be sure to also post information about the benefits of humor (this poster can be downloaded for free).  You can provide funny books for kids to read as they wait as well!

MAY marks the start of National Run a Mile Days, which lasts through June 14th.  Consider partnering with a nearby elementary or middle school and helping them host a Run A Mile Days event!  Promote your facility and the idea that running is a fun way for kids and adults to stay healthy.

JUNE is Men’s Health Month.  Men are less likely than women to see a doctor, whether for a health concern or standard annual exam.  Improve patient engagement for the men in your community by hosting a health awareness event, health screening, or health fair.

JULY is UV Safety Month.  Post warnings about the harmful effects of the sun to the eyes and guidelines for proper eye protection from UV rays around your facility and in your newsletter.  Hand out sunglasses stickers to kids with a note attached that explains what factors to look for when purchasing sunglasses.

AUGUST is National Immunization Awareness Month.  Schedule a webinar to improve patient education about vaccine recommendations for each stage of life.

SEPTEMBER is Baby Safety Month, September 23rd-29th is Child Passenger Safety Week, and September 29th is National Seat Check Saturday.  Give parents and caregivers the chance to have their car seats checked for proper installation by a certified child passenger safety technician at your facility.  Offer free demonstrations on how to buckle children of all ages into car seats.

OCTOBER is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Send out reminders, via text, phone call, email, or postcard, to all female patients who may need to schedule a mammogram.

NOVEMBER 15th is the Great American Smokeout.  Organize an event where patients can make a public commitment to quit smoking with the support of their family and friends, the American Cancer Society, and your facility.

DECEMBER is Safe Toys and Gifts Month.  Why not conduct a toy drive for Toys for Tots?  Invite both employees and patients to participate and provide them with guidelines for which toys are considered acceptable donations according to safety standards.  This is a great charitable opportunity for your facility; plus, you’ll improve patient engagement by educating them about safe toys and giving them the chance to contribute a donation as well.

In addition to the ideas listed above, be sure to utilize the power of social media to spread awareness of these important health topics and to help your facility stay relevant.  Many of the organizations that sponsor these health observances even provide materials on their websites that you can share from your own social media accounts.  Most of the 2018 health observances also have their own hashtags.

Check out even more 2018 health observances here.  Perhaps there are others that your facility can use to improve patient engagement and improve patient education.


By Stephanie Salmich

#Thankful – Giving Thanks for Technology in Healthcare

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HealthWare Systems Blog

#Thankful – Giving Thanks for Technology in Healthcare

Posted on Wed, Nov 22, 2017

This week let’s take a moment to give thanks for technology in healthcare. No matter where we fall below, each of us has something to be grateful for thanks to the benefits of technology.

• Physicians – Interoperability in Healthcare

Interoperability in healthcare allows physicians access to all relevant patient data from other providers in a useful format. When a facility has the ability to integrate healthcare data from outside sources, physicians can be confident they have the information they need to treat their patients safely, efficiently, and accurately.

• Hospital Employees – Workflow Automation

Technology in healthcare has reduced internal workloads through the automation of manual processes. Not only does it make life easier for staff, but it also increases efficiency.

• Healthcare Administrators – Improved Revenue Cycle

Technology can protect against bad debt, reimbursement denials, and costly rework by ensuring patient encounter accuracy and preventing registration and insurance errors. Workflow automation, increased efficiency, and a reduction in paper also contribute to an improved revenue cycle, and all are the result of the use of technology in healthcare.

• Patients – Enhanced Patient Experience & Improved Patient Engagement

From lowering wait times, to improving the valet service, to providing texting alerts and notifications, technology has truly created an enhanced patient experience. Health apps, social media, patient portals, digital medicine devices, and telemedicine have all improved patient engagement.

• Vendors – Patients & Clients Embracing New Technology

Not only do more and more people embrace new technology, many have come to expect it! Openness to learning how to use new technology in healthcare is always helpful towards its successful adoption.

What else are you thankful for? Give thanks with the hashtag #thankful and share this blog along with the benefits of technology in healthcare that make you thankful! Happy Thanksgiving!


By Stephanie Salmich

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on The Patient Experience

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on The Patient Experience

Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

They say today, we’re more connected than ever…  with the Internet, social media, and instant access to the latest news and data, this theory seems logical; yet, it’s a very different story when it comes to patient data and interoperability in healthcare.  How is it that in the Information Age, so many patients voice frustrations concerning access to and exchange of their medical information?

The constant stream of information sent to and from hospitals and third parties (including insurance companies and other providers) is never-ending, so the ability to integrate healthcare data is crucial to a facility’s workflow.

Unfortunately, the patient experience is full of delays and frustrations as hospitals continue to struggle with interoperability in healthcare.  In fact, research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology found that only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care.

Often, patients are forced to wait for care (sometimes while in pain) until certain documents are found, fill out new forms that ask for the same information for each new provider they see, re-explain their medical situation or symptoms over and over to each new doctor (and perhaps undergo the same tests they’ve already had done at another facility), and/or sort out insurance headaches before or after receiving care.

The patient experience is incredibly diminished when patients have to wait too long, repeat their situations to each provider they see, or deal with insurance hitches.  These aggravations are especially frustrating to patients who know that technology exists which can integrate healthcare data and achieve interoperability in healthcare, so that the patient experience need not suffer.

If you can effectively integrate healthcare data and ensure interoperability in healthcare, you will improve the patient experience.

If you can effectively integrate healthcare data and ensure interoperability in healthcare, you will improve the patient experience.

In fact, more and more patients are coming to this realization: better interoperability in healthcare could vastly improve the patient experience.  And this trend is sure to continue; considering their affinity for and familiarity with technology, Millennials and any generations that follow will come to expect interoperability in healthcare.  If they can instantaneously transfer information online with the click of a button, why can’t their hospital integrate healthcare data?  Maybe it’s not that simple from the healthcare industry’s perspective, but from the patients’, it should be.

When patients are dealing with pain or other health concerns, the last thing they should have to worry about is whether or not their providers have the ability to integrate healthcare data or share it effectively with another site.  Guarantee that interoperability is not an issue, and you are sure to improve the patient experience.


By Stephanie Salmich

3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians

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HealthWare Systems Blog

3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Share these 3 simple time-savers for physicians with your doctors.

Share these 3 simple time-savers for physicians with your doctors.

 

The following time-savers for physicians can help busy doctors who don’t always have as much time to meet with each patient as they’d like.

Provide your doctors with these three simple time-savers for physicians to help them more efficiently use the time they do have, generate better health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce physician burnout.

 

1. Set an Agenda with Your Patient 

Begin the appointment by agreeing on your expectations and priority items for the visit. Determine what your patient’s primary concerns are and list your own, then make sure you cover these first; then if there’s time you can focus on any others.

You will increase patient satisfaction if you ensure their most pressing concerns are addressed, even if that means scheduling another appointment for the lesser concerns that you didn’t get to in one meeting.  The Language of Caring for Physicians® can guide you through how to “establish the concept of time limits upfront.”

 

2. Practice Physician Empathy

Another way to make certain you address your patients’ most important concerns is through empathic behaviors, such as refraining from interrupting when patients explain what’s bothering them and consistently asking “what else?” to prompt patients to divulge more.

Physician empathy produces better health outcomes, can increase patient satisfaction with their provider, and will save you time by getting straight to the critical details that may not otherwise be revealed until the “Doorknob Moment,” when you’re about to leave but the patient says, “oh, one more thing…”

Physician empathy is a learned skill that you can hone through physician empathy training programs.

 

3. Write Legibly & Proofread 

Although it may seem like it saves time to scribble out a prescription as quickly as possible or speed-type instructions into a patient’s record and skip reading them over, these behaviors actually slow doctors down in the long run (and lead to patient safety errors).

Write carefully and legibly and proofread your typed notes.  This will help you avoid the time-consuming rework that consists of answering phone calls and messages from other providers or pharmacists looking for clarification on any confusing or incorrectly recorded information.  Better health outcomes are also much more likely when mistakes and miscommunication are prevented.  


Each of these tips will benefit your doctors and patients.  Setting an agenda will result in more productive visits; physician empathy will improve patient-physician relationships; double-checking their own notes will decrease frustration for your doctors later.

These simple time-savers for physicians will not only increase patient satisfaction and generate better health outcomes, but also help in reducing physician burnout because your doctors (and their time) will no longer be spread so thin.


By Stephanie Salmich

Real-Time Text Updates Boost Satisfaction of Patients AND Family Members

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Real-Time Text Updates Boost Satisfaction of Patients AND Family Members

Posted on Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A simple change, such as utilizing HIPAA compliant text messaging and real-time text updates, is an extremely effective way to improve how patients feel a provider is treating them.

 

Here are three benefits that will come from introducing real-time text updates:

 

1. Reduced Anxiety & Improved Family Experience:

Usually, when a patient undergoes a surgical procedure, there is a support system of family or friends present and waiting throughout the entire process. More often than not, ineffective communication between the support system and physician can leave a negative lasting impression.  When patients’ family members are left waiting for hours not knowing how a surgery is progressing and not receiving any updates, they are left frustrated and in a state of panic. By providing real-time text updates to patients’ family members throughout the surgery, physicians can communicate more efficiently and hopefully lower waiting room anxiety.

 

Real-time text updates can boost patient and family satisfaction.

Real-time text updates can boost patient and family satisfaction.

 

2. Increased Patient Satisfaction & Loyalty to the Hospital:

When patients feel well taken care of and supported, they don’t feel like just another room number. And when patients’ family members feel engaged and updated throughout the entire process, they will always associate a positive patient experience with that healthcare facility. Enhancing the patient experience with real-time text alerts will in return increase their loyalty to the hospital. With these real-time text updates, family and friends no longer need to sit around in the waiting room for hours on end. A hospital waiting room can be emotionally and physically draining, so the ability to leave and not miss out on any valuable information regarding a loved one is a huge benefit. And a positive experience for patients’ family members makes a big difference in boosting patient satisfaction scores.

 

3. Improved Clinical Workflow:

If patients’ family members are left in the waiting room with no updates, this can lead to questioning directed towards a receptionist or nurse passing by, disrupting the facility’s current workflow. By implementing HIPAA compliant text messaging, patients’ family members will receive real-time text updates not just in the waiting room, but virtually in any location, allowing fewer interruptions and for clinical workflow to run smoothly.

 

Improved patient-provider communication is important for enhancing the patient experience and boosting patient satisfaction scores. Adding secure, HIPAA compliant text messaging and real-time text updates will ensure better communication and equal happy patients.


By Samantha Willis