Address Patient Transportation Needs to Create Better Health Outcomes

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Address Patient Transportation Needs to Create Better Health Outcomes

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Patient transportation needs can critically affect access to care and health outcomes; approximately 3.6 million Americans miss or postpone medical care due to transportation issues.

Improved access to transportation benefits patients, health facilities, and communities.  Health systems that address patient transportation needs are advocates for their patients, produce better health outcomes, lower readmission rates, reduce no-show appointments, and improve the general health of the community.

Efforts to address patient transportation needs should begin with screening patients to determine their need/eligibility for transportation or other financial assistance.

Here are some specific ways your facility can then help those patients and create better health outcomes:

Providers can address patient transportation needs by educating patients about transportation options, creating new patient transportation options, and bringing care to patients.

Providers can address patient transportation needs by educating patients about transportation options, creating new patient transportation options, and bringing care to patients.

 

Educate Patients About Patient Transportation Options

Compile a resource list of patient transportation options available in your area.  For example, many senior centers and churches provide free or low-cost transportation and Pace offers a “Call-n-Ride” service in the Chicago suburbs for as little as $2.00.  What affordable local transportation options could you suggest to your patients?

Promote patient transportation options through flyers, posters, or digital signage at your facility.  If you use a lobby display screen or patient notification board, include notices for patient transportation options that appear throughout your rotation of announcements.

Assign staff members to address patient transportation needs, one-on-one.  These employees can help patients determine which transportation assistance programs they may be eligible for (e.g. Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program), help them apply or sign up for assistance, and help them understand their existing benefits or coverage (e.g. how ambulance transportation may or may not be covered under Medicare).

Promote patient transportation options through your hospital’s social media accounts.

 

Create New Patient Transportation Options

Institute a driver volunteer program to provide rides to eligible patients, as Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital and Green Mountain RSVP have done.

Start a hospital van service, like the one Taylor Regional Hospital created to deliver prescriptions and bring patients to and from the hospital.

Partner with an on-demand transportation service, like Maryland Health System has with Uber and Denver Health has with Lyft, to offer free or discounted transportation to qualifying patients.

Provide shuttle, bus, or taxi travel vouchers.  Create an incentive program for eligible patients who keep their appointments.

Participate in local government and community planning projects.  The American Hospital Association suggests hospital representatives “participate in local or regional transportation planning initiatives and educate decision-makers about how health can be affected by transportation” to encourage the development of new patient transportation options (such as more walkable routes, bike lanes, bike-sharing programs, bus or shuttle services, etc.).

 

Alleviate Patient Transportation Needs by Bringing Care to the Patients

Invest in a mobile health center, as Calvert Health System has; the Calvert Health System Mobile Health Center brings primary and preventive health services to patients by visiting churches and community centers.

Create a prescription delivery or mail service, or provide pharmacy services onsite to cut travel for patients, as the American Hospital Association advises here (p. 12).

Provide more telehealth opportunities and encourage use of the patient portal for minor questions.

 

Make a commitment to address patient transportation needs using the suggestions above, and your patients, community, and facility will all enjoy the benefits of better health outcomes.

You can read in further detail how the health systems mentioned above (Grace Cottage, Taylor Regional, Denver Health, and Calvert Health) address patient transportation needs in the case studies provided by the American Hospital Association.


By Stephanie Salmich

scl-shortcode-cleaner-clean-content-end-->

Lowering Waiting Room Anxiety for Patients’ Family Members with a Patient Tracking Board

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Lowering Waiting Room Anxiety for Patients’ Family Members with a Patient Tracking Board

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Waiting room anxiety is a common experience for patients’ family members.

Waiting room anxiety is a common experience for patients’ family members.

Waiting Room Anxiety

Waiting room anxiety is a very real, very negative, experience for patients’ family members who accompany patients to the hospital. Much of waiting room anxiety stems from uncertainty: uncertainty about how long they’ll be waiting, uncertainty about the details of a procedure, and, most stressful, uncertainty about the outcome for their family member.

Some of this uncertainty is due to a lack of or inadequate information from the clinicians or healthcare facility. Of course hospitals must adhere to HIPAA guidelines concerning patient confidentiality, but there are areas in which communication with patients’ family members can be improved.

For example, a study published by The Permanente Journal revealed that patients’ family members are often mistaken about how long a surgical procedure will take because they fail to factor in preoperative preparation and postoperative recovery times. When they don’t get to see their family member as soon as they anticipated, their anxiety increases and they can become confused, scared, and upset (emotions you’d like to keep out of your waiting room).


Lowering Waiting Room Anxiety with a Patient Tracking Board

A patient tracking board can go a long way in curbing these emotions because it provides those waiting with their family member’s status at each stage (e.g. “in prep,” “in surgery,” “in recovery”) of the encounter. Confidentiality is maintained with alphanumeric identifiers.

Healthcare facilities can reduce waiting room anxiety for patients’ family members with a patient tracking board.

A patient tracking board can reduce waiting room anxiety for patients’ family members.

Family members can get information in real-time, keeping their waiting room anxiety at bay in between face-to-face updates from clinicians which can become too infrequent (or non-existent) in a busy facility. Plus, it eliminates any added anxiety patients’ family members may face if they must leave the waiting area and worry about missing their chance to hear from a clinician; the patient tracking board is continuously available to them when they return.

Improving the patient experience includes helping patients’ family members feel as comfortable as possible; what better way to begin than by lowering their waiting room anxiety? Besides, if family members leave your hospital having had a positive experience, they will be more likely to choose your facility for their own medical needs in the future.

Read here how a New York teaching hospital used a patient tracking board and patient tracking system to create a better experience for patients’ family members, reduce wait times, and increase patient satisfaction scores to 4.5 out of 5 points.


By Stephanie Salmich

scl-shortcode-cleaner-clean-content-end-->

Promoting the Health Benefits of Laughter at Your Facility

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Promoting the Health Benefits of Laughter at Your Facility

Posted on Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Awareness of and appreciation for the health benefits of laughter can make a huge difference to the lives of both your employees and patients.  There are ample science-based short-term and long-term health benefits of laughter.  Harnessing the power of these benefits may help you reduce physician burnout and employee stress, improve employees’ and patients’ moods and lift their spirits, and produce better health outcomes.

Some of the physical health benefits of laughter:

Promote the health benefits of laughter at your facility during National Humor Month.

Happy National Humor Month!

  • Boosts the immune system
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Protects the heart
  • Reduces pain
  • Burns calories!

Some of the mental health benefits of laughter:

  • Releases endorphins
  • Relieves stress* and anxiety
  • Eases anger
  • Enriches social relationships
  • Helps us cope with difficult situations
  • Improves mood

*For more stress relief ideas, check out this Stress Management Guide. 

 

National Humor Month

April is National Humor MonthNational Humor Month was established with the purpose of promoting the therapeutic value of humor and the many health benefits of laughter and joy.  Fittingly, National Humor Month kicked off on April Fool’s Day.

This is a great time to consider how you might incorporate the healing power of humor into your operation and educate your patients and employees about the health benefits of laughter.

For example:

  • If you use a lobby display screen or patient notification board, include a “Joke of the Day” that appears periodically throughout your rotation of announcements.
  • Print a list of the health benefits of laughter on the other side of any wayfinding maps or other informational materials you offer to patients.
  • Play comedy shows or funny movies on any TVs you may have in your waiting areas.
  • Provide funny books, humorous magazines, and newspaper comics in your waiting rooms.
  • Foster a love of humor, and reading, early on in your youngest patients by partnering with the local library to sponsor a FUNNY LITERACY program for kids!  Click here for more information on creating a custom program for your community.

Additionally, the National Humor Month website has plenty of ideas and resources for promoting the health benefits of laughter throughout April and all year long, such as the Decorate-A-Smiley Project.


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

Image by Samantha Willis

scl-shortcode-cleaner-clean-content-end-->