Improve Patient Engagement in Older Patients

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Improve Patient Engagement in Older Patients

Posted on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

You can improve patient engagement in older patients by helping them view aging in a positive way.  This coming month, “September is Healthy Aging® Month,” offers a special opportunity to do just that!

You can improve patient engagement in older patients, like this doctor talking with his patient about her health.

Improve patient engagement in older patients by helping them view aging in a positive way.

 

Here are a few ways you can improve patient engagement in older patients:

 

Celebrate aging –September is Healthy Aging® Month” is meant to draw attention to the positive aspects of aging and to assure people that it’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes.  Older patients should be encouraged to take control of their health at any age.

You may also wish to celebrate grandparents this next month, as Grandparents Day falls in September as well.  Remind older patients of the need to maintain their health so that they can continue to benefit their grandchildren’s lives for many years to come!  And make sure they know that this special relationship can benefit their own health, too.

(Check out our previous blog on additional monthly health observances.)

 

Emphasize prevention, rather than reaction – Some of the most prevalent health issues affecting older patients, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, heart disease, malnutrition, and injuries from falls, are potentially preventable.  Yet, per the CDC, only 7% of older adults obtain all their recommended preventive health services.

Our blogs on increasing preventive screenings for men, improving male patient engagement, and increasing mammogram appointments can provide you with some excellent ideas for promoting preventive health services at your facility.

 

Improve family engagement – Family engagement can be especially important for older patients who may have family caregivers.  Family caregivers play a significant role in older patients’ safety and comfort.  Plus, patient and family satisfaction are related.

 

Address the social determinants of health – Some of the social determinants of health may affect older patients in different ways than younger patients.  For example, patient transportation needspatient housing needs, and dietary needs often change as patients age.

 

Provide technology information – A 2018 AARP survey found that 76% of U.S. adults age 50-plus want to stay in their own homes as they age.  Many older patients also want and believe they need access to health technology in order to manage their own healthcare.  Educate patients and their families about technology that can help them achieve these goals and keep them safe.

 

Implement the 4M Framework – The Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative encourages healthcare facilities to embrace the 4M’s when caring for older patients:

  • What Matters – Aligning care with the patient and family’s health goals.

  • Medication – Choosing age-friendly medications that don’t hinder the other three “M’s” of the framework.

  • Mentation – Addressing dementia, depression, and delirium.

  • Mobility – Ensuring patients move safely every day.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, there were 46 million Americans (15% of the population) aged 65 and older in 2016 and that number is expected to more than double by 2060, to over 98 million (24% of the population).

As the American Hospital Association pointed out in its publication “Creating Age-Friendly Health Systems,” improving care for older patients now can put your hospital “ahead of the curve” as the healthcare market shifts to accommodate our aging population.

September is the perfect time for exploring new policies that will improve patient engagement in older patients and ensure they have the best possible care at your facility all year round.


By Stephanie Salmich

Streamline Prior Authorizations with a Pre-Arrival Workflow Solution

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Streamline Prior Authorizations with a Pre-Arrival Workflow Solution

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019

The results of a recent survey conducted by the American Medical Association illustrate the importance of solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.


The 2018 AMA Prior Authorization Physician Survey found the following:

  • 91% The percentage of physicians who say the prior authorization process postpones patients’ access to necessary care.
  • 28% The percentage of physicians who say the prior authorization process has resulted in a serious adverse event for their patients (e.g., “death, hospitalization, disability/permanent bodily damage, or other life-threatening event”).
  • 86% The percentage of physicians who describe prior authorization burdens as high or extremely high.
  • Almost 2 Business Days (14.9 hours) The average length of physician/staff time that is devoted to prior authorization requirements per physician per week.
  • 36% The percentage of physicians who have employees who work solely on prior authorization tasks.

Clearly, health systems face many challenges related to preauthorization.  Patient safety is compromised when care is delayed.  Patient and physician satisfaction are at risk as patients endure frustrating waits for treatment and physicians deal with administrative duties that disengage them from their medical work.

And not only can each prior authorization be costly, but excess costs are also incurred in the forms of extra clerical staff and rework when prior authorizations are denied and must be resubmitted.


According to CAQH CORE, 88 percent of prior authorizations are completed either partially or completely manually; and, the majority of preauthorization issues are related to manual processes.

A pre-arrival workflow solution can automate manual processes and streamline prior authorizations.


With a pre-arrival workflow solution that can streamline prior authorizations, you can address the issues mentioned above:
Physicians hold a thumbs up sign for solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.

A pre-arrival workflow solution can streamline prior authorizations and improve staff and physician satisfaction.


Support your physicians by utilizing solutions that make their jobs easier.  Implementing time-savers for physicians can go a long way toward reducing physician burnout, which is often related to stressful and time-consuming administrative workloads.

In addition to increasing physician and employee satisfaction, a pre-arrival workflow solution will improve your revenue cycle and patients’ access to care they need.

Hospitals can no longer afford to delay employing solutions that will streamline prior authorizations and benefit all stakeholders in their organizations.


By Stephanie Salmich

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Managing Online Patient Reviews: 5 Things to Avoid

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Managing Online Patient Reviews: 5 Things to Avoid

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2019

It’s important to monitor online patient reviews of your facility because first impressions in healthcare often begin online.  The majority of patients search online before making health appointments.  Are your providers and organization making a positive first impression when patients read reviews on third party sites like Google, Yelp, and Healthgrades?

A doctor holds a smartphone showing online patient reviews.

Managing online patient reviews can help you improve your online reputation.

 

When managing online patient reviews, here are 5 things you should avoid:

 

1.)  Don’t ignore online patient reviews.

Online patient reviews can feel stressful and unfair to providers and their validity is debated.  However, patients pay attention to these reviews, so you should too.

Some organizations reply to online reviews, but there are other actions you can take to manage them as well.  For example, you may appeal a negative review if it is in violation of the review site’s policies, and the site may remove it.  You should also encourage satisfied patients to leave positive reviews.  If you don’t have many online patient reviews, even one or two negative ones stand out.  But numerous positive reviews can outweigh a few negatives.

 

2.)  Don’t acknowledge that the reviewer is a patient at your facility.

If you choose to reply to a review, do not write anything that could signify the reviewer is (or was) your patient.  Even if a patient explicitly states that he/she received care from your organization in the review, you cannot confirm that fact in your reply or you will be in violation of HIPAA.

 

3.)  Don’t make any statements specific to the patient.

In an attempt to defend themselves against negative online patient reviews, many providers have inadvertently revealed private patient information in their replies.  Not only does this result in HIPAA violations, but also the loss of patients’ trust.

 

4.)  Don’t leave a lengthy reply.

Rather than diving into a long defense, keep your reply simple and professional.  Establish clear, HIPAA-compliant guidelines for staff who respond to reviews.  Digital Marketer Daryl Johnson provides this example for negative reviews:

“Dear John, thank you for your feedback. At Good Smiles Dentistry, we take patient satisfaction seriously. In order to protect our patients’ privacy, we prefer to handle situations like these offline.

Would you be willing to call my office at 555-555-1212 and ask to speak with me so I can better understand the situation?

Thanks in advance for your help – Dr. Smith”

Likewise, HIPAA expert Dr. Danika Brinda says you should “keep it brief, keep it general, and move the conversation offline.”

You can then work to resolve the complaint directly and privately.  If the patient is satisfied with your response after speaking with you, he/she may agree to remove the negative review or update it to reflect the positive outcome.  At the very least, other patients who view your reply online will see your attempt at remedying the situation and your commitment to patient satisfaction.

 

5.)  Don’t assume you can publish a patient’s positive review as a testimonial.

Although online patient reviews are public, your organization cannot share them on your own website or marketing materials without receiving written consent/authorization from the patient.  Again, doing so can result in HIPAA violations.


Your online presence plays a crucial role in reducing patient uncertainty about your facility and providers.  If you’re not monitoring your online reviews, patients may be getting the wrong idea about your organization.  Plus, these reviews can provide you with valuable insight into what matters most to patients and how you might improve your services.

Managing online patient reviews using the suggestions above (while avoiding HIPAA violations) can help you improve your online reputation and even mend relationships with patients who were previously unsatisfied.


By Stephanie Salmich

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Improving Patient and Family Satisfaction

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Improving Patient and Family Satisfaction

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2019

Patient and family satisfaction are related.  Patients’ family members can influence the patient experience and even health outcomes for the patient.

 

Here are a few ways you can improve both patient and family satisfaction at your facility:

 

Provide Extra Conveniences –

Trying to navigate through a large building full of many hallways and departments can add unnecessary stress to patients’ and families’ visits.  So can wandering around the parking lot looking for their car and carrying all of their belongings to it at the end of their stay.

Implementing a wayfinding solution and a patient tracking system that can link the valet service to the discharge process can remove these stressors.  These details will stand out in patients’ and family members’ minds as ways in which your facility goes the extra mile.

 

Make Comfort a Priority –

Patients’ family members will be spending a lot of time in your waiting area or in patients’ hospital rooms.  The waiting area should be clean and hospitable in order to make a good first impression.  For example, you might offer refreshments like coffee and water, current issues of magazines, games, puzzles, and/or free Wi-Fi to help them pass the time in comfort.

: A hospital visit full of patient and family satisfaction.

Considering the family’s perspective can help you increase both patient and family satisfaction.

An article published by the journal Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) studied patients’ and family members’ opinions of different hospital room prototypes.  The study found that privacy (having control over a curtain that blocks the room door; using the bathroom without visitors seeing or hearing), security (a safe to hold valuables; the ability to independently reach their own belongings), and a sense of connection to people (the capacity for visitors to sit close and have eye level conversations with patients; easy access to cell phones and outlets for charging them) are all appreciated room elements.

 

Lower Waiting Room Anxiety

Families often feel worried while their loved one is undergoing a medical procedure.  Much of their anxiety stems from uncertainty.  A patient tracking board in the waiting area or real-time text updates can ease their nerves by informing them of their family member’s status at each stage (e.g. “in prep,” “in surgery,” “in recovery”) of the encounter.

Read our case study to learn how a New York hospital increased patient and family satisfaction with ActiveTRACK and its patient tracking board feature.

 

Support Family Engagement

It’s important to recognize the effects family members can have on a patient’s comfort and safety.  After receiving a diagnosis or undergoing a procedure, patients are not always in the best frame of mind to absorb a clinician’s instructions.  Family members can offer support during a difficult time and help ensure directions are followed and medicine is taken correctly.

Improving the discharge process is one way you can better engage family members.  Allow adequate time for discharge instructions and questions from patients and family members.  It’s vital to patient and family satisfaction that they do not feel rushed or abandoned as they prepare to leave the security of the hospital.  Plus, including informal family caregivers in the discharge process can lower readmissions by 25 percent.

 

Family Satisfaction Surveys –

In addition to the typical patient satisfaction surveys, collect feedback specific to the experience of patients’ family members.  Ask family members to complete a satisfaction survey and post your scores on your website to attract new patients.

 

Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) –

Go one step further and invite patients and family members to actively participate in improving the patient and family experience at your facility by joining a PFAC.  PFACs include administrators, clinicians, and staff; but at least 50% of the members are patients, and family members of patients, who have received care from your organization.  They offer a unique perspective for improvements.

 

Each of these ideas shows patients’ family members that your organization values them and the role they play in the care and recovery of the patient.  These strategies also give you the opportunity to make a positive impression on family members who may choose your facility for their own health needs in the future.

Focusing on the family’s perspective can help you attract new patients, improve patient safety and health outcomes, reduce hospital readmission rates, and increase both patient and family satisfaction.


By Stephanie Salmich

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Spring Cleaning! The Health Benefits of a Clean Home

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Spring Cleaning! The Health Benefits of a Clean Home

Posted on Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring cleaning season is here!  This is a great time to educate your patients on the health benefits of a clean home and encourage them in their spring cleaning goals.

A daughter and mother celebrate the health benefits of a clean home.

The health benefits of a clean home are both mental and physical.

 

Promote the Health Benefits of a Clean Home

A clean home is beneficial to both your patients’ physical and mental health!

 

Here are a few of the health benefits of a clean home:

Improves respiration – Common asthma triggers include dust, pet dander, mold, and mildew.  Decluttering, dusting, and vacuuming can all help asthma and allergy symptoms.

Prevents sickness – In order to stop the spread of an illness after someone in their home has been sick, it’s important that patients thoroughly clean and disinfect (especially areas of the house that are frequently touched, like doorknobs, counters, and cellphones).

Better sleep – A National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll found that “respondents who say they make their bed every day are 19% more likely to say they get a good night’s sleep every night than those who don’t.”  Furthermore, at least two thirds of respondents believed clean, allergen-free air and a clean bedroom are important for a good night’s sleep and 71% of respondents said “they get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent.”

Enhances concentration – Both children and adults can have trouble focusing on tasks when surrounded by clutter and mess.

Boosts mood – A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin analyzed couples’ descriptions of their homes.  Women who described their homes as “stressful” (cluttered, with unfinished projects) “had increased depressed mood over the course of the day.”  Women who described their homes as “restorative” “had decreased depressed mood over the day.”

Lowers stress – Not only can having a clean home lower stress, but so can the cleaning process itself.  Some people practice meditation or gratitude exercises while cleaning.  Cleaning can also give us a sense of control over our environment.  Plus, cleaning is a physical activity, which is a de-stressor.

Provides exercise – While not recommended as a patient’s only form of physical activity, household chores can burn some extra calories and even stretch and tone muscles.

Prevents injuries – According to the CDC, more than one out of four people aged 65 and older falls each year and one out of five falls results in serious injury.  Patients can reduce some risk factors by keeping floors and stairs clear of clutter.

 

Provide Patient Education for Safe Spring Cleaning

Along with the health benefits of a clean home, advise your patients about cleaning safety.  Unsafe cleaning practices can lead to health risks and injury.

For example, direct them to guidelines for poison prevention (particularly related to ventilation and handling and storage of cleaning products that contain chemicals).  Or, perhaps your doctors have recommendations for chemical-free products.

Other cleaning safety considerations include proper indoor and outdoor ladder usage and appropriate disposal of expired items (such as paint, medicine, and batteries).

Equipped with this knowledge, your patients can pursue the health benefits of a clean home without putting patient safety at risk.


The social determinants of health include patient housing and living conditions.  One way to address these is to arm your patients with the knowledge they need to keep their homes safe and clean.

Many of us are extra motivated to get our homes in order when spring cleaning season rolls around.  Foster this enthusiasm in your patients now, but encourage them to also maintain adequate cleaning (and cleaning safety!) habits throughout the year.  Your patients will be grateful to enjoy the health benefits of a clean home all year round, and you can enjoy the benefits of better health outcomes for patients at your facility.


By Stephanie Salmich

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Appealing to Millennial Patients

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Appealing to Millennial Patients

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Appealing to Millennial patients: Millennials gathered at a table with smart phones and coffee.

Appealing to Millennial patients can help your facility keep up on the latest healthcare trends.

Appealing to Millennial patients is becoming increasingly important to a healthcare facility’s revenue cycle.  Not only do they number 83.1 million and make up over 25 percent of the U.S. population, but Millennials are also driving new healthcare trends.

One alarming trend is that many Millennials do not have a primary care physician or keep up on regular health appointments and exams.  Instead, a growing trend is their use of urgent care facilities.  As Dr. Niket Sonpal (speaking with CBS) explained:

“We found that Millennials tend to want to have access to care right away, they want it immediately and they want to be able to see a doctor quickly . . . When they feel well, they don’t want to go to the doctors, and they don’t.  So then when they feel unwell, they’re like I want to see a doctor right away and not wait for weeks for an appointment.”

Unfortunately, this trend has serious consequences.  While many Millennials are health-conscious, they may be missing out on recommended eye exams, blood pressure screenings, PAP smears, STD/STI screenings, mental health screenings, and IBS/digestive exams, as well as failing to get vaccinations on time.

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In order to help ensure Millennials receive the care they need, heed the healthcare trends that are appealing to Millennial patients.

The following are a few ideas to help get you started:

 

Don’t Waste Their Time

Wait times – As noted, Millennials don’t want to wait for care.  The following common scenario is definitely not appealing to Millennial patients:  first waiting days or weeks for an appointment, then waiting 20-30 minutes in the waiting room, THEN waiting in the exam room even longer before the doctor actually shows up.  To prevent this situation from occurring, implement a solution like ActiveTRACK, which can lower wait times by 75%.

Telehealth – Offering telemedicine appointments is another way to help Millennial patients save time, something they highly value.  Millennials are technologically savvy and accustomed to immediacy and convenience, so telehealth options may be attractive to them.

 

Simplify the Financial Aspects of Healthcare

Payment plans – One factor that may be keeping Millennials from accessing healthcare is the high cost.  Offering payment plan options so that they don’t have to cover the cost of a large bill all at once can help Millennial patients afford the care they need.

Price transparency – Millennial patients want to compare costs between providers and obtain out-of-pocket estimates before receiving care.  They also want to understand their bills before they pay them.

Health insurance confusion – Many Millennials are confused about their health benefit options and medical bills.  Clearing up their health insurance confusion can really help you stand out from your competition.  An easy place to start is by educating patients that many plans cover annual physicals at no cost.

 

Stay Technologically Relevant

Online payment options – Millennials are more likely than older generations to pay their bills using technology or mobile devices and may see paper bills as inconvenient and outdated.

Maintain a mobile and online presence – Use social media in healthcare to improve patient engagement.  To help attract new patients, monitor online reviews of your facility and respond to any negative feedback.  (Over 75 percent of Millennials check online reviews before choosing a doctor.)

Interoperability – It is hard for a generation that grew up with constant technological progress to understand how healthcare has been unable to keep up.  In other aspects of Millennials’ lives, data can be instantaneously transferred with a click of a button.  Interoperability in healthcare will be expected too, and there is technology that can help you achieve it.

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In other industries, Millennials are used to having many choices.  They expect companies to offer convenience and respect their time, provide competitive and transparent pricing, and keep pace with changes in technology.  Health systems can learn from these consumer-centered practices that are standard in other markets.  Plus, these practices are becoming more attractive to other generations as well.

Appealing to Millennial patients will help your facility keep up on the latest healthcare trends, attract a large group of potential patients, and boost your revenue cycle.


By Stephanie Salmich

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4 Ways to Build a Culture of Patient Advocacy at Your Facility

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4 Ways to Build a Culture of Patient Advocacy at Your Facility

Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

How can a healthcare facility practice patient advocacy?  Of course, patient advocates offer wonderful support to patients. But providers can create a larger culture of patient advocacy at their facility as well by tackling a few key areas.

 

Here are 4 ways hospitals can support their patients and build a culture of patient advocacy:

 

1.      Address The Social Determinants of Health

The American College of Physicians states that addressing the social determinants of health “is a critical step forward in solidifying physicians’ roles as advocates for patients.”  You can supply your physicians with screening tools and training to help them identify patients’ social needs and how these may be affecting their health.

Additionally, your organization can do its part in addressing the social determinants of health in your community.  For example, you may be able to reduce patient malnutrition, ease patient transportation needs, or assist with patient housing needs.

Supporting your patients’ social needs is an incredible form of patient advocacy.  It can also lead to better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs for your facility.

 

2.      Offer Financial Assistance Screening
Creating a culture of patient advocacy: A healthcare employee helps a patient.

You can create a culture of patient advocacy with ‘Patient First’ technology.

A lot of patients don’t realize that financial assistance may be available to them. Many hospitals have changed their financial assistance policies to include not only the uninsured, but the underinsured as well.

Notifying patients of which programs they could qualify for demonstrates a great deal of patient advocacy.  What really goes above and beyond, though, is facilitating the entire financial assistance process on behalf of your patients!

Technology like HealthWare SystemsActiveASSIST and Facilitator can both identify programs applicable to specific patients AND manage the financial assistance workflow.

By exhausting all other payment options first, you also ensure the provider is payer of last resort.

 

3.      Alleviate Stressors Surrounding Costs and Payment

Larger-than-expected or difficult-to-decipher medical bills, as well as health insurance confusion, are major sources of frustration for patients.  They can also result in unpaid medical bills and medical debt, or cause patients to forgo some health services altogether.

Reducing patient uncertainty concerning the financial aspects of their care would help you foster a culture of patient advocacy.

Ensuring patients are financially cleared before arrival, generating estimates and identifying potential out-of-pocket costs, and setting up payment plans are all ways you can assist patients in this area.

 

4.      Provide Patient Education

February is National Wise Healthcare Consumer Month!

What a perfect time to share educational materials and classes related to health insurance and financial assistance with your patients.  Perhaps the best way to advocate for your patients is to help them develop the skills they need to advocate for themselves!

 

Each of these areas provides you with excellent opportunities for patient advocacy.  Plus, there is a bonus: supporting any of these endeavors can ultimately improve your bottom line as well.

Practicing patient advocacy will help you support your patients, improve the patient experience, and offers financial benefits for all parties involved.  Developing a culture of patient advocacy can truly pay dividends.


By Stephanie Salmich

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11 Statistics That Reveal the Importance of Preventive Health Services

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11 Statistics That Reveal the Importance of Preventive Health Services

Posted on Monday, January 7, 2019

Improving patients’ use of preventive health services can save lives and lower healthcare costs.  The CDC’s website states:

“Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75% of the nation’s health spending. These chronic diseases can be largely preventable through close partnership with your healthcare team, or can be detected through appropriate screenings, when treatment works best.

 

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and receiving preventive services such as cancer screenings, preventive visits and vaccinations are just a few examples of ways people can stay healthy . . . And yet, despite the benefits of many preventive health services, too many Americans go without needed preventive care.”


Consider the following 11 alarming statistics regarding potentially preventable health issues:

  1. The greatest preventable cause of death in the U.S. is tobacco use.
  2. As of 2015, 15% of U.S. adults smoke.
  3. The percentage of adults in the U.S. who do not partake in leisure time physical activity is now above 30 percent.
  4. Only about 27.1 percent of high schoolers get the AHA’s recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day.
  5. In the U.S., over one-third of adults and 17 percent of youth are obese.
  6. Over 102 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher and over 35 million of these are at 240 mg/dL or above.
  7. Nearly 50% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.
  8. In 2015, 9.4% of the U.S. population (30.3 million people) had diabetes.  Of these, 7.2 million were undiagnosed.
  9. Despite its connection to skin cancer, over 3 in 10 white women aged 18-21 years old, and over 2 in 10 high school girls, still use indoor tanning.
  10. Skin cancer rates for Hispanics in the U.S. have increased by almost 20% over the last two decades.  Hispanics are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages and some may believe the myth that people with darker skin don’t get skin cancer.
  11. According to the CDC, Americans use preventive health services “at about half the recommended rate.”

A patient receiving preventive health services.

Preventive health services and screenings can save lives.

The most common type of cancer (skin cancer) and most of the top causes of death in the U.S. are potentially preventable through lifestyle changes and preventive health services.  Yet as these statistics reveal, many U.S. citizens remain at risk of developing these health issues (or already have).

Some of these conditions have no symptoms or mild symptoms and many people go undiagnosed.  Or, they discover they’ve developed an issue at a later stage when it is harder and/or more expensive to treat.

Having a primary healthcare provider and adequate health insurance tends to increase a patient’s use of preventive health services and screenings.  The social determinants of health (e.g. patient transportation needs, patient housing needs, patient malnutrition, income, geographic location) also affect preventive care use and lifestyle choices.  Addressing these issues can help your facility increase patients’ use of preventive health services.

New Year’s resolutions often involve health goals, so January is the perfect time to revamp your efforts for promoting preventive health services and healthy life choices.  Check out our blogs on increasing mammogram appointments, increasing preventive screenings for men, and improving male patient engagement for some great ideas to help get you started.

Make 2019 the year your facility improves patient outcomes and your bottom line through an increased use of preventive health services!


By Stephanie Salmich

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Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital

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Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital

Posted on Monday, December 3, 2018

Celebrating the holidays in the hospital can be tough for patients, their families, and your staff who take care of them this time of year.


Follow this prescription to help make celebrating the holidays in the hospital happier for patients, their families, and healthcare employees!

Help make the holidays happier for patients, their families, and healthcare employees!

 

The following ideas can make celebrating the holidays in the hospital happier for both your patients and employees:

Deck the halls! 

Put together a team of volunteers to decorate your facility.  Ask people to donate old Christmas and Hanukkah decorations – everyone usually gets a few new decorations each year and probably has some old ones to spare.  Better yet, display homemade decorations created by your pediatric patients!

 

Provide patients and their families with a list of hospital-approved ways they can bring the holiday spirit to their stay.

For example, candles may be prohibited so perhaps an electric menorah is the best option.  Can they bring in their own small Christmas tree or hang a few strands of lights?  What about playing seasonal music (at a reasonable noise level) and watching holiday movies?

Passing out a list of ideas is a proactive way to clarify any questions about what is/is not permitted up front.  In fact, patients may be pleasantly surprised that your facility allows quite a bit more than they expected.  And you are less likely to have to act as The Grinch later if they are reminded about a few rules before they have a chance to break them!

 

Set up a time for pediatric patients (who are able) to go caroling around the hospital.

This will brighten their day as well as bring joy to the other patients who get a visit!  Or, schedule a time for volunteer carolers to come in.

 

Plan a visit from Santa Claus!

Who better to lift everyone’s spirits than Old Saint Nick?  Invite children to write letters to Santa as well.

 

Conduct a Toys for Tots drive and fill your facility with the spirit of giving.

Did you know the December health observances include Safe Toys and Gifts Month?  Provide participants with guidelines for which toys are considered acceptable donations according to safety standards.  A Toys for Tots drive presents a timely opportunity to be charitable AND improve patient safety.

 

Add a personal touch.

You can really brighten a patient’s holiday with personalized decorations or gifts.  A former Regional Director of PreAccess, Joyce Bryant, shared her experience while working in hospice:

“Our hospice foundation gave us money to make small Christmas trees for each patient.  My Patient Access department made 150 eight-inch trees.  We hot-glued small ornaments we bought at Michaels.  We also had employees donate ribbon and broken jewelry that we took apart.  We decorated some in line with some of the patients’ hobbies – fishing, sewing, cats, etc.  We did blue and white for our Jewish patients.  We glued a small gold bell on each tree for those patients who didn’t have sight but could hear the tree.”

Joyce recommended hospitals “look at what their non-clinical, support staff can do.  Some are just waiting to jump in and help!”  What a special way to bring joy to both patients and staff.


As noted by Becker’s Hospital Review, it may be increasingly important for healthcare facilities to improve the experience of holidays in the hospital due to crucial patient satisfaction scores.

Plus, the holidays bring feelings of gratitude, happiness, love, contentment, and joy.  Spurring those emotions in your patients will not only benefit their mental health, but perhaps their physical health as well.  Each of these feelings has been studied for positive physical effects.

We hope these tips will help your patients and employees in many ways this holiday season.  Happy holidays to all patients, families, clinicians, and staff celebrating the holidays in the hospital!


By Stephanie Salmich

Take proactive steps toward increasing preventive screenings for men!

Increasing Preventive Screenings for Men at Your Facility

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Increasing Preventive Screenings for Men at Your Facility

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2018

Increasing preventive screenings for men at your facility can save patients’ lives.  “Movember” is the perfect time to start working toward this goal.


Consider these ideas for increasing preventive screenings for men at your facility:

 

Educate your patients.  Patients may be unclear on the correct or most-up-to-date recommendations for preventive screenings and may not realize when it is time for them to start discussing these topics with their doctor.  Make sure your clinicians initiate the conversation when patients reach the proper age to begin making decisions about testing in case patients forget.

 

Improve patient engagement with preventive health by utilizing social media in healthcare.  Share preventive health tips, educational materials, and powerful statistics demonstrating the importance of early detection of male health issues.

(Check out our previous blog for more information on male patient engagement.)

 

Ensure patients are aware that most health plans are required to cover the cost of many preventive screenings (when performed by an in-network provider).  Highlight the fact that most plans cannot charge a copayment or coinsurance for these services even if the patient has not met his yearly deductible yet.  Instruct patients to check with their insurance company.  Additionally, help patients find out if they qualify for financial assistance and facilitate the application process for them.

 

Use their time in the waiting room as an opportunity to reach your patients.  For example, print educational materials on the back of wayfinding maps.  If you use a lobby display screen or patient notification board, feature male preventive health facts periodically throughout your rotation of announcements.  Or, incorporate moustaches into the backdrop of your screen to draw more attention to Movember and male health issues.

(Read here how one acute care facility used ActiveTRACK to promote customizable messages to patients in their waiting area.)

 

Accommodate your patients.  Allow for evening and weekend appointments.  Besides providing interpreters and educational materials in various languages, train staff to understand how culture affects health and healthcare decisions.  Don’t let inconvenience or cultural barriers stand in the way of accessing preventive health care.

 

Talk to female patients about preventive screenings for men.  Women make approximately 80% of household healthcare decisions.  Since women can have such a large impact on male health, clinicians may want to bring up the topic when meeting with female patients.  This could trigger a reminder for female patients to schedule appointments for their loved ones, or simply provide them with pertinent preventive health information to pass on to the men in their lives.

 

Start the Movember Healthcare Challenge at your facility.  Compete against others in your industry to raise money to improve male health through the Movember Foundation.  Raise awareness by growing a (or wearing a fake) moustache!  Use the hashtag #Movember when you share the pictures on social media.

(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.)

 

Most of the above ideas can be implemented all year long!  Increasing preventive screenings for men is an important goal to strive toward and November is a great time to start.

Take proactive steps toward increasing preventive screenings for men!


By Stephanie Salmich