Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

Posted on Friday, March 30, 2018

Examine how you support your physicians on National Doctors' Day.

Examine how well you support your physicians on National Doctors’ Day.

National Doctors’ Day (March 30th) provides a great opportunity to reevaluate the steps your facility is taking to support your physicians who work so hard for you and your patients.

 

Here are a few questions to consider when assessing how well you support your physicians:

 

Are You Fueling Your Physicians’ Sense of Purpose?

One of the best ways you can support your physicians is by encouraging their passion, whether it be for medicine, for helping patients and their families, for serving the community, or any other meaningful reason they have for doing the work they do.

Fostering a sense of meaning in work can improve employee engagement, reduce physician burnout, and lower employee turnover.  According to Forbes contributor David K. Williams, the secret to helping employees find meaning in work is communication:

“f leaders focus on communicating the company’s mission, and the employee’s place in the success of that mission, they can have a significant impact on the overall level of fulfillment of their employees.”

He suggests that leaders “frequently discuss the meaning of the organization” and recognize employees for their personal contribution to that meaning.

 

Are You Making Your Physicians’ Jobs Easier or More Difficult?

Physicians are extremely busy.  Is the technology you provide them helping or hindering their time management?

Time-consuming and cumbersome administrative tasks and paperwork can overwhelm physicians and distract them from the reason they became doctors in the first place:  to help patients.

Alleviate physician stress by implementing solutions that:

1. Eliminate lost physician orders

2. Facilitate the sending, receiving, finding, and integrating of critical data to achieve interoperability

3. Prevent reimbursement issues

4. Provide real-time communication across departments

 

Are You Investing in Your Physicians?

Do you provide opportunities for your valuable physicians to learn and grow in the vital roles they fill for your organization?  Millennial healthcare employees may especially appreciate opportunities for growth and development, continued training, and education at work.  You can also support your physicians by offering or funding mindfulness training, empathy training, and emotional support programs to help prevent or reduce physician burnout.

 

Again, National Doctors’ Day is TODAY (March 30th)!  Now is the perfect time to rejuvenate your commitment to support your physicians with these suggestions.  And remember to celebrate the physicians who have made a difference for you and your family by personally thanking them and honoring them each March 30th for the hard work they do all year long.


You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

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Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week 2018: An Interview with Joyce Bryant

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Ideas for Celebrating Patient Access Week 2018: An Interview with Joyce Bryant

Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Joyce Bryant provided creative ideas for celebrating patient access employees during Patient Access Week.

Joyce Bryant provides creative ideas for celebrating patient access employees during Patient Access Week.

Next week is Patient Access Week 2018 (April 1st – 7th)!

Many managers may be looking for ways to recognize their hard-working patient access employees.

HealthWare Systems recently spoke with Joyce Bryant, who served over 8 years managing a centralized high volume call center consisting of 50+ Patient Access Specialists for four hospitals and five outpatient facilities as a Regional Director of PreAccess.

Joyce explained that it can be difficult to come up with activities for 60+ people, especially with budget obligations.  But she and her managers were able to find creative ways to celebrate their patient access employees during Patient Access Week, and each was a big hit!

Check out her ideas below!

Work Station Bingo

“You can’t shut down your call center to play games and do get-togethers.  So, I came up with the idea of playing Bingo at their desk.  I had a manager go buy a Bingo game (we reused it every year).  We made copies of the Bingo Cards and handed them out to the staff.  The manager would then pull a Bingo number and email the number out in the subject line of the email.  The email pops up on everyone’s screen, with the number in the subject line, and they mark their sheet.  It’s not disruptive to patient scheduling and the verifiers can play while they’re on hold with insurance companies.  If they are busy, the numbers are all in their email and they can easily catch up.  The first one to email back ‘Bingo!’ wins.  As far as prizes, we planted succulents in dollar store pots, gave out movie theater-sized boxes of candy, or water bottles or mugs filled with M&M’s.”

Nacho Cart

“I went to Gordon’s Foods and bought a large can of nacho cheese, paper holders and several bags of taco chips.  It cost me around 16 dollars for 60 people.  What makes it special is, I put the slow cooker with the cheese in a cart and walked around the department serving it to my staff.  It gave me the opportunity to thank each staff member and let them know how much I appreciate the work they do for our patients.”

Pancake Day

“I brought in pancake mix, syrup, oranges and bananas.  It cost 25 to 30 dollars for 60 people.  I put on my apron and started serving up pancakes.  I started with the early shift and ended with the 10:30 (late shift).  Again, it’s not just the food they appreciated.  It’s the fact that we managers were thanking everyone as they walked in.  It was a great way to connect.”

Cupcakes

“I’m a baker and like to make Cupcake Wars types of cupcakes.  Not everyone’s a baker, but you can tap into the skills of your managers as well.”

Employee of the Month Board

“Appreciation doesn’t need to be just for a week.  Each team had a monthly employee appreciation bulletin board (Employee of the Month).  The team members post notes of appreciation to their teammates when they find that they’re going above and beyond.  On the first of the month, the manager takes down the notes and puts them in a hat and pulls out one.  She then sends an email to the team with that employee’s name and what they did to be nominated for “Employee of the Month.”  That employee got a small prize (a plant, $10 gift card to the cafeteria, etc.).”

In addition to the ideas Joyce provided, you can find other fun activities on NAHAM’s website.  If you’re looking for more prize options, visit NAHAM’s online store featuring promotional items for Patient Access Week 2018.  And don’t forget to share your activities and recognize your patient access employees on social media using this hashtag:  #AccessWeek18


You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees using strategies such as gamification & social media in healthcare.

In Part 1 of our 2-part blog about attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees, we discussed two strategies to help you improve employee engagement and employee retention among the ever-increasing largest share of the U.S. workforce: promoting your mission and investing in education.

Here are two more suggestions for attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees:

 

Embrace Social Media in Healthcare

Social media in healthcare can be invaluable for attracting Millennial healthcare employees.  For example, Hospitals & Health Networks reports that All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida uses social media to engage potential new hires with stories, images, and videos that highlight what it’s like to work at their facility and live in their city:

“At All Children’s, a new nurse blogs about her experiences behind the scenes. The transport team writes a periodic series about their adventures. The hospital home page features ‘Shift Change,’ a one-minute video with action music that includes fast-paced scenes from a single day at All Children’s mixed with shots of Central Florida night life and beach sunsets.”

Exceptional internal communication is also essential for retaining Millennial healthcare employees.  Many Millennials desire more feedback from their managers at work and are accustomed to instantaneous communication.  Commit to increasing the amount of feedback you provide in order to improve employee engagement, and ensure you have a system in place that enables real-time communication among employees and departments.

 

Utilize Gamification Strategies

Millennial speaker Ryan Jenkins describes gamification as “the use of game design techniques and mechanics in a non-game context to solve problems and engage users.”  He provides the gamification examples of tracking frequent flyer miles, credit card points, and fantasy football scores and explains the attraction:

“When humans achieve new levels in games, the brain releases dopamine which prompts excitement, encourages exploration to try new things, and helps combat the stagnation caused by failure. The reward-motivated behavior induced by dopamine is the key to increased employee engagement, overcoming challenges, and increased innovation through exploration.”

Incorporating gamification features like competition, rewards and incentives, point scoring, and real-time, instant feedback into the workplace may appeal to Millennial healthcare employees (who grew up playing video games and games on their mobile phones) and can improve employee engagement for all generations.

For instance, try implementing tools that monitor registrars’ patient encounter accuracy relative to their peers, and provide performance incentives to improve employee engagement and recognize accomplishments.  This will create a fun, competitive atmosphere and provide Millennial healthcare employees with the feedback they crave.

As noted in Part 1 of this blog, most Millennials want the opportunity to learn at work.  Gamification can be used to improve employee engagement with training and online learning as well.


Many Millennials want to work in healthcare; according to a survey of 18,000 Millennials, about 40% plan on working in medicine or health-related fields.  Healthcare facilities that consider the values of this generation of workers in their efforts to improve employee engagement and employee retention will have the most success in attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

These strategies, embracing social media in healthcare and utilizing gamification, along with those outlined in Part 1 of this 2-part blog (promoting your mission and investing in education), will appeal to Millennial healthcare employees and lower your turnover rates for this group of workers.

Editor’s Note:  This is Part 2 in a 2-part blog series.


By Stephanie Salmich

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Promoting your mission and investing in education will help you in attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

Attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees should be a major priority for health systems. 

This group now makes up the largest share of the U.S. workforce and is projected to make up 75% of it by 2025.  Hospitals must improve employee retention when it comes to Millennials in order to avoid costly employee turnover from this increasing majority in the workplace.

Here are some suggestions for attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees:

 

Promote Your Mission

Many Millennials have a desire to find purpose in their work.  Research conducted by Great Place to Work found Millennials are six times more likely to plan to remain with their employer when they find “special meaning” in their work, and that “leading employers use different ‘meaning archetypes’ to help employees connect to their work and feel part of something significant.”

For example, Millennials tend to care about corporate social responsibility.  An organization that prioritizes “going green,” charitable giving, or service opportunities may appeal to a Millennial job seeker.  Jennifer Thew, a nurse and editor for HealthLeaders Media, suggests:

“Perhaps an opportunity to work at an organization that helps improve the health of patient populations who are dealing with poverty, poor health incomes, unemployment, or are part of an immigrant population could be attractive to a millennial nurse.”

The healthcare industry naturally fits into this category of meaningful work as most healthcare workers pursue this field with the desire to help others.  But, it’s not enough to rely on that convenience; a facility must actively communicate its mission.  As Benjamin Anderson, CEO of Kearny County Hospital, stated in an interview with HealthLeaders Media:

“If you don’t know your mission, then the default mission becomes to stay open another day, and I don’t know very many mission-hearted, bright medical providers or clinicians that get excited working for an organization whose goal is to stay open another day.”

Furthermore, he points out the importance of the employee’s and organization’s goals aligning:

“It really is about understanding each recruit’s motivations, and knowing the mission and purpose of the organization, and matching the two.  If they don’t match, the person is not going to stay.  If they do, it’s a very good thing.”

Prioritizing and nurturing your clinicians’ passion for helping patients and making a difference will improve employee engagement with their work and may also help prevent the burnout that often results from emotionally exhausting work, which is another major cause of turnover.

 

Invest in Education

Millennials are set to be the most educated generation thus far, and polls indicate that this generation of workers values continued learning.  According to a recent Gallup report:

  • 59% of Millennials “say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.”
  • 87% of Millennials “rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important to them in a job.”
  • Only 39% of Millennials “strongly agree that they learned something new in the past 30 days that they can use to do their jobs better.”
  • Less than one in two Millennials “strongly agree that they have had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year.”
  • Only one-third of Millennials “strongly agree that their most recent learning opportunity at work was ‘well worth’ their time.”

HealthLeaders Media describes how Fairview Health Services improves employee retention through its internal perioperative nurse training program, which it developed in response to serious perioperative nursing vacancies it was facing.  The organization invests in its employees’ education by paying for the cost of the training and paying the nurses a salary while they learn.  In return, hired nurses commit to work at their accepted position for at least two years.

In the article, Laura Beeth (Fairview’s System Vice President of Talent Acquisition) explains that “‘perioperative skills are not part of the prelicensure nursing curriculum while they attend college, so it is critical we have pipelines in place to teach these additional skills.’”

Additionally, partnering with nearby colleges can offer a mutually beneficial opportunity to fill any skills gap you may be experiencing with new hires.  Hospitals & Health Networks reports that four Cleveland health systems are collaborating with a consultant to create a report “on what the future health care needs of the region will be and what the existing resources are at area colleges.”  The colleges who participate will make curriculum changes accordingly.

Investing in education by offering Millennial healthcare employees plenty of opportunities to grow and learn will not only improve employee engagement, but also supply you with superior, skilled employees.


Promoting your mission and investing in education are two excellent ways you can improve employee engagement for Millennial healthcare employees.  Be sure to check out Part 2 of our 2-part blog about attracting and retaining Millennial healthcare employees in which we will outline two more strategies to help you improve employee retention for this generation of workers.

Editor’s Note:  This is Part 1 in a 2-part blog series.


By Stephanie Salmich

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018

In 2018, it can be easy to take patient safety for granted; however, studies show that we have a long way to go to truly improve patient safety:

According to a nationwide survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, 21% of patients report experience with medical errors.  The survey also found that these medical errors “often have lasting impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.”

With approximately 251,454 deaths in the U.S. per year due to medical errors, Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate that this is the third leading cause of death in the country.  (Research published in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates the number of premature deaths due to medical errors could be even higher – over 400,000 per year.)

Patient safety is of the utmost importance to any healthcare system, so how can these numbers be so high?

As the PatientSafe Network explains, there are many obstacles that thwart or diminish efforts to improve patient safety.  These include issues regarding cognitive dissonance, blame/pointing fingers, complexity, cost, and many more.  See their full list of (18!) obstacles here.

Improve Patient Safety

 

Make the commitment to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety during National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

Make the commitment to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety during National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

This week is National Patient Safety Awareness Week, an initiative of The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) “designed to mark a dedicated time and a platform to increase awareness about patient safety among health professionals and the public,” according to their website.  There will be two main issues highlighted this year – safety culture and patient engagement.

National Patient Safety Awareness Week offers an opportunity for both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers to come together to improve patient safety.  IHI and NPSF offer plenty of ideas for getting involved and a day-by-day guide to activities for the week, and invite you to join the conversation on social media (use the hashtag #PSAW18 in your posts).

You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.

In order to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors and patient safety risks, it will take the work of all stakeholders (administrators, clinicians, staff, patients, family members, etc.) to raise awareness of this critical issue.  It will also take their commitment to making the changes necessary for lowering risks to patient safety.


By Stephanie Salmich

Taking Steps to Reduce Patient Malnutrition is Critical to Health Outcomes

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Taking Steps to Reduce Patient Malnutrition is Critical to Health Outcomes

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When we look at the statistics, the importance of taking steps to reduce patient malnutrition becomes clear.  A study of 818 inpatients published in Clinical Nutrition found that up to one third were malnourished, resulting in “poor hospitalization outcomes” such as increased mortality rates and higher costs of care.

Indeed, according to an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

“alnutrition is associated with many adverse outcomes, including an increased risk of pressure ulcers and impaired wound healing, immune suppression and increased infection rate, muscle wasting and functional loss increasing the risk of falls, longer length of hospital stay, higher readmission rates, higher treatment costs, and increased mortality.”

The authors of the article point out that malnutrition is often overlooked, despite its dire consequences and the startling number of patients who suffer from it.  Per research cited in the article, it is estimated that in developed countries at least one third of patients are malnourished to some degree at the point of admission; during their hospital stay, the nutrition of about two thirds of these patients will worsen if untreated; and about one third of patients who are not malnourished when admitted may become malnourished during their stay.

Fortunately, hospitals can prevent many of the negative effects of malnutrition.  The authors of the article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest healthcare facilities apply the following six principles to nutrition care in order to reduce patient malnutrition:

Reduce Patient Malnutrition

1 – “Create an institutional culture where all stakeholders value nutrition” – Administrators and all healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, etc.) must collaborate.

2 – “Redefine clinicians’ roles to include nutrition care” – Provide clinicians with nutrition training and continuing education.

3 – “Recognize and diagnose all malnourished patients and those at risk” – Every hospitalized patient should be screened according to a standardized procedure.

4 – “Rapidly implement comprehensive nutrition interventions and continued monitoring” – Immediate nutrition interventions must be a high priority; consumption must be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

5 – “Communicate nutrition care plans” – Ensure patients’ nutrition care plans are updated in the EHR and all healthcare professionals are informed.

6 – “Develop a comprehensive discharge nutrition care and education plan” – Communicate the nutrition care plan to the patient and caregivers, provide them with nutrition education, and follow up to check adherence to the plan.

 

Taking steps to reduce patient malnutrition with nutrition care and nutrition interventions for malnourished patients is critical to health outcomes.

Reduce patient malnutrition with nutrition care and nutrition interventions.

A piece featured on the Hospitals & Health Networks website proposes that “before implementing interventions, a hospital must first visualize food as medicine to realize the impact that food can make in the community.”  This article provides many ideas for hospitals looking to serve their communities and reduce patient malnutrition (such as establishing on-site gardens, healthy cooking classes, food pantries, and food pharmacies).

March is National Nutrition Month®, an education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This is the perfect time to start implementing the above principles at your facility and take steps to reduce patient malnutrition.  You can also promote healthy eating habits for your employees and patients using the tools the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides here.

Don’t forget to recognize the RDNs who serve and advance the health of your community by celebrating Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day (the second Wednesday in March – March 14, 2018) as well!


You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich