A doctor wearing safety goggles and a face mask appears with the blog title: Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2021

Here are some of the patient safety challenges healthcare facilities are facing today, along with solutions for addressing these issues:

Patient Safety Challenge: Patients Delaying or Avoiding Medical Care

A doctor wearing safety goggles and a face mask appears with the blog title: Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

What are your patient safety challenges? Chances are, one or more of our ActiveWARE products can help.

Patients missed health visits at alarming rates last year.

Research reviewed by the CDC found that by “June 30, 2020, because of concerns about COVID-19, an estimated 41% of U.S. adults had delayed or avoided medical care including urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%).” Consequently, the Becker’s Clinical Leadership & Infection Control editorial team included “missed and delayed diagnoses” and “low vaccination coverage and disease resurgence” on its top ten list of patient safety issues for 2021.

Besides worry about the pandemic keeping patients away, other barriers to healthcare access include a lack of (or inadequate) health coverage.

Solutions: A patient outreach campaign can bring patients back for preventive health services and encourage them not to forgo urgent care when they need it. Patients may be confused about the guidelines for seeking medical care during a pandemic. Receiving clarification directly from your organization will reassure them of the importance of obtaining routine and emergency care for their own health and safety. You can find patient outreach messaging ideas here.

HealthWare SystemsActiveXCHANGE solution can be bundled with our messaging platform to add automated voice message (TTS), text, email, pagers, fax, and traditional mail to create a physician and patient outreach engine for alerts, reminders, requests for information, and post-acute care follow-up.

When it comes to your uninsured and underinsured patient population, you can improve their access to healthcare by finding alternative funding sources for their medical bills. ActiveASSIST is our financial assistance screening solution that identifies which charitable programs patients may qualify for and manages the application process for them. This patient advocacy tool helps remove financial obstacles to healthcare access.

Patient Safety Challenge: Potential Exposure to COVID-19

While it may not be in a patient’s best interest to evade medical care altogether due to COVID-19 fears, there is still a risk of exposure to the virus when visiting a health facility.

Solution: Most health systems are now enforcing visitor restrictions to limit the number of people on site at their facilities. But have you considered reducing the number of employees on site as well?

Healthcare organizations have historically been hesitant to offer remote work opportunities due to concerns over uncontrolled access to PHI. However, you can enable healthcare staff to work from home in a HIPAA-compliant, secure remote work environment. Our off-site print management workflow solutions provide:

  • Controlled access to PHI.
  • Complete audit trails.
  • Elimination of intermediate hard copies/storage of paper forms.
  • Encryption of all information at all times.
  • Full transparency and productivity monitoring for management.

With fewer people on site, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 will be lower for both patients and healthcare employees. Patients will also be more willing to come in for medical care if they know every possible measure has been taken to limit their risk.

Patient Safety Challenge: Data Integrity & Interoperability Issues

Healthcare organizations continue to experience problems electronically exchanging information both externally (between different health systems) and internally (between different units/departments). Individual patient safety, as well as public health, depends on a provider’s access to accurate and complete data for each patient.

Unfortunately, “patient matching in the EHR” and “fragmentation across care settings” were included on the ECRI Institute’s top ten list of patient safety concerns in 2020.

Solutions: Our integration capabilities can introduce universal master patient indexes across disparate systems. This makes it possible to link episodes of care and supporting documentation across fragmented systems. Our electronic forms solution, ActiveFORMS, protects patient safety by enhancing patient data accuracy. ActiveFORMS uses barcode automation to correctly match patients’ medical forms to their accounts and auto-populates patient data on forms to prevent human error from manual entry or illegibility issues from handwritten forms. It also improves clarity by converting raw data into easy-to-read reports and transforming legacy reports into user-friendly documents.

With ActiveFORMS, healthcare facilities can easily pass Joint Commission audits.

In addition, our ActiveXCHANGE platform helps achieve healthcare interoperability in many ways, including by:

  • Providing a bi-directional gateway for consolidating information from any source (e.g. multiple scheduling systems, custom interfaces, HL7, FHIR, XML, web-based requisition systems, EHRs/EMRs, faxes, direct messaging, e-mail, hard copies, scanned documents/images, and verbal appointments).
  • Routing information through business rules and account matching to the appropriate destination (e.g. EMR, physician portals, document management systems, other third-party applications) in virtually any format.

HealthWare Systems specializes in integrating proprietary and third-party patient access technologies and connecting disparate health IT systems and EMRs/EHRs.

Patient Safety Challenge: Clinician Burnout

Physician burnout is tied to more medical errors, lower quality of care, and reduced patient compliance. Not only does it affect patient safety, but provider safety and health as well. This problem was on the rise before the pandemic and has understandably increased since it began.

Clinician burnout also appears on the Becker’s patient safety issues list for 2021.

Solutions: Major causes of clinician burnout include too much paperwork, administrative burdens, spending excessive time on EHR tasks, and working long hours.

Many EMR frustrations and administrative burdens can be traced back to interoperability issues (e.g. sifting through an overwhelming abundance of low-quality data to find relevant information, spending more time with the computer than with the patient).

ActiveXCHANGE increases physician satisfaction by:

  • Improving interoperability.
  • Intelligently managing information objects by using business rules to find and create actionable data, determining what to do with that information, and flagging errors and exceptions (e.g. detecting missing signatures or required forms/documentation) for resolution.
  • Handling incoming physician orders/third party documentation to greatly reduce physician complaints related to lost or incomplete orders.

ActiveXCHANGE also does not require referring physicians to change their behavior or learn new software.

You can further reduce providers’ workloads by outsourcing credentialing, which is another time-consuming and exhausting clerical responsibility for clinicians.

Solve Your Patient Safety Challenges with ActiveWARE by HealthWare Systems

Which patient safety challenges are you facing? Chances are, one or more of our ActiveWARE products can help. Contact us today to learn more, request a live demo, or schedule a free consultation – together, we can improve patient safety and enhance the patient experience at your healthcare facility.

By Stephanie Salmich

A healthcare employee working in a secure remote work environment.

Creating a Secure Remote Work Environment for Healthcare Staff

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Creating a Secure Remote Work Environment for Healthcare Staff

Posted on Friday, May 1, 2020

Ensuring a secure remote work environment is a top concern of healthcare organizations that are looking to move workers off site.

While remote work is increasingly common, organizations within highly regulated industries like healthcare have been slower to offer work from home opportunities. This is understandable, as you may worry about protecting your patients’ PHI and maintaining HIPAA compliance.

However, it is absolutely possible to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff with remote work solutions that address these issues. There are many benefits of allowing healthcare staff to work from home, and the COVID-19 crisis adds one more significant reason to transition some employees to secure remote work.

In order to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff, look for remote work solutions that offer the following:

A healthcare employee working in a secure remote work environment.

HealthWare Systems’ remote work solutions enable healthcare staff to securely work from home.

Controlled Access to PHIlimits users’ access to only the minimum information necessary to perform their job duties.

Full Transparencyprovides management with real-time oversight and review of employees’ work, which highly discourages inappropriate behavior.

Complete Audit Trailsalways know who accessed data, what they did, and when.

Workflow Automationautomating redundant, manual tasks through robotic process automation means fewer employees must handle each information object and data will automatically be routed to its proper destination with little to no human intervention. Plus, it greatly reduces paper usage…

Paper Reductionsolutions that eliminate hard copies remove the need to commit PHI to paper or to store paper forms containing sensitive information, and they make proper disposal of physical documents a non-issue.

Off-Site Exception Handlingremote employees should be able to handle individual exceptions manually with the same level of security, controlled access to PHI, and paperless processes in place.

Encryption of Dataall information must be encrypted at all times.

HealthWare Systems’ remote work solutions cover all the above. By providing each of these features, our solutions create a HIPAA-compliant, secure remote work environment that will enable healthcare staff to work from home.

Additional Guidelines for a Secure Remote Work Environment

In addition to choosing remote work solutions that address the security concerns listed above, it’s crucial that you communicate with remote workers about their responsibilities regarding the protection of PHI.

Many of these guidelines apply to all healthcare staff – whether they work remotely or on site:

  • Adhere to strict password rules.
  • Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Complete periodic cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance training.
  • Only work on approved devices and only access the Internet through approved methods, such as the organization’s virtual private network (VPN).
  • Do not use work devices for personal activity.
  • Do not copy PHI to other devices.
  • Keep software updated.
  • Always lock your screen when not in use.
  • Be aware of common forms of cyber attack and know the warnings signs for email scams, such as phishing emails or suspicious attachments.

Implement a Remote Work Policy and after confirming employees understand what’s expected of them, have them sign an agreement stating they will abide by all rules and regulations in place. Just like you would for on-site employees, remind remote workers of the civil and criminal penalties for negligent or illicit handling of PHI and of their duty to protect it.

For more information on creating a secure remote work environment for healthcare staff, contact us today. Through a consultative phone call review, we can analyze your workflows to help you determine which areas to transition to a secure remote work environment.

By Stephanie Salmich