A patient tracking system will improve the healthcare employee experience.

Improve the Healthcare Employee Experience with a Patient Tracking System

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Improve the Healthcare Employee Experience with a Patient Tracking System

Posted on Friday, November 15, 2019

Patient tracking systems are known for improving the patient experience… But did you know HealthWare’s patient tracking system, ActiveTRACK, can also improve the healthcare employee experience?

ActiveTRACK captures data in real-time. Its real-time dashboards improve the healthcare employee experience in the following ways:

Better Resource Allocation

Access to actionable, real-time data enables supervisors to proactively manage resources and staff based on actual patient flow. Workloads can be better balanced so that one group or individual is not needlessly or disproportionately overwhelmed, which can greatly reduce workplace stress.

Holds Everyone Accountable

ActiveTRACK monitors productivity, creating the opportunity to reward or recognize high achievers. It also allows managers to identify low performers and ensure that every employee pulls his/her weight.

It’s very frustrating for a team when one member brings the rest down. Without a tool like ActiveTRACK it’s hard for managers to hold everyone to the same productivity standard. With ActiveTRACK, managers can put low performers on a work improvement plan and improve team engagement.

Correctly Determines Responsibility

Management can also immediately and accurately pinpoint where any bottlenecks in patient throughput occur thanks to ActiveTRACK’s real-time data.

An acute care facility in the Chicago Suburbs used ActiveTRACK for this purpose, and discovered that patient delays had been incorrectly attributed to its Registration Department. Data from ActiveTRACK revealed that patients were actually being held up in other areas. (You can read the full case study here.)

When healthcare employees are mistakenly blamed for workflow issues, they will feel irritated at best and unjustly treated at worst. A patient tracking system can bring your healthcare employees the relief and security of knowing their good work will be properly credited to them and won’t go unnoticed.

You may also be interested in: “3 Healthcare Solutions for Improving Employee Satisfaction, Engagement, & Retention

Improves Communication & Patient Visibility

In addition to real-time data, ActiveTRACK also delivers real-time communication among departments. And, patient status is visible to all departments across the enterprise. This eliminates calls between clinical areas, to greatly improve the healthcare employee experience.

A patient tracking system will improve the healthcare employee experience.

You can improve the healthcare employee experience by providing the tools and resources healthcare employees need to do their jobs well.


Annette Franz (customer experience thought leader and founder/CEO of CX Journey Inc.) says when she interviews employees, “some of the biggest pain points of their experiences are most often about their inability to do a good job”:

“At the heart of it all, employees want to do their jobs and do them well. Unfortunately, they can’t if they aren’t provided with the tools, processes, and resources needed to do that.”

ActiveTRACK is the tool healthcare employees need to do their jobs well. And when healthcare employees are happy and engaged, so are patients!

Download our Product Sheet to learn more about how ActiveTRACK can improve the healthcare employee experience at your facility.


By Stephanie Salmich

Prescription for celebrating the holidays in the hospital.

Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

A nurse reads the HealthWare Systems blog to address nurse burnout.

How to Prevent and Address Nurse Burnout

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HealthWare Systems Blog

How to Prevent and Address Nurse Burnout

Posted on Friday, September 14, 2018

A nurse reads the HealthWare Systems blog to address nurse burnout.

Address nurse burnout to improve clinician well-being and reduce nurse turnover.

When hospitals address nurse burnout, they not only improve clinician well-being but also the well-being of their patients and revenue cycle.


As we discussed in our last post, the effects of nurse burnout have a critical impact on clinician well-being, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and the national nursing shortage.  Therefore, hospitals must address nurse burnout.


Here are a few ways health systems can prevent and address nurse burnout:


Maintain Adequate Staffing Levels – Understaffing contributes to nurse burnout because nurses become overworked in the form of longer shifts, more overtime, and heavier workloads.

Reduce Nurse Turnover Rates – High nurse turnover also places a heavier workload on your remaining nurses.  To reduce nurse turnover, many healthcare facilities are offering various incentives in exchange for a required minimum length of work from their nurses.

Millennial healthcare employees are especially drawn to organizations that invest in their education.  Offering educational or financial incentives like sign-on bonuses, scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and profit sharing is effective in retaining Millennial healthcare employees.

Another strategy is peer interviewing.  Allowing your nursing staff, who have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to succeed as a nurse at your facility, to interview applicants and contribute to hiring decisions can increase the likelihood the candidates you hire will be a good fit for your facility.  And, your staff may have an increased interest in helping those candidates adjust to their new positions if they helped choose them as new hires.

Create a Mentorship Program The nurse turnover rate for first-year nurses at Franciscan St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers in Indianapolis went from 31% to 10.3% thanks to its mentorship program.  A mentor can support his/her nurse mentee by acting as a role model and passing on skills, knowledge, and experience.  A mentor should also be a good listener, supportive and encouraging, and help build a mentee’s confidence.

Provide Emotional Support Research published in the journal Medical Care studied “compassion practices,” which “recognize and reward compassion in the workplace as well as provide compassionate support to health care employees.”  The study found that compassion practices positively affected nurse well-being and resulted in less emotional exhaustion and more psychological vitality.

Offering spiritual/emotional support services on your campus is one way you might support clinician well-being.

Alleviate Administrative Burdens In a national study conducted by RNnetwork, one of the top three reasons nurses gave for wanting to leave the profession was “spending too much time on paperwork.”  Having the right technology in place can help ensure your nurses get to spend more time with patients and less time doing clerical work.

Get Feedback Communicate with your nurses.  Find out which of these strategies are working and how you can improve upon them.


Hospitals that work to prevent and address nurse burnout using the strategies above can protect their clinicians, patients, and revenue cycle from the dire effects of nurse burnout.

Health systems interested in how to address nurse burnout may also wish to visit our other blogs on these topics related to clinician well-being:  reducing physician burnout, physician empathy, time-savers for physicians, support your physicians.


By Stephanie Salmich

The effects of nurse burnout: A nurse crossing her arms experiences nurse burnout.

The Effects of Nurse Burnout

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HealthWare Systems Blog

The Effects of Nurse Burnout

Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The effects of nurse burnout: A nurse crossing her arms experiences nurse burnout.

The effects of nurse burnout reach your nurses, patients, and bottom line.

The effects of nurse burnout are far-reaching.  Everyone, from your patients and their families to your nurses and the entire facility, can be affected by nurse burnout.


The Effects of Nurse Burnout Reach Your Nurses, Patients, and Bottom Line…


Here are some of the effects of nurse burnout:

Nurse Well-Being Nurse burnout can lead to feelings of dread about work, mental and physical exhaustion, sleep issues, and depression for your nurses.  The effects of nurse burnout also include compassion fatigue, causing your nurses to disengage from your patients.

Patient & Family Satisfaction Interactions between your nurses and patients and their family members are crucial to the patient experience and patient satisfaction scores.

A study published in the journal Medical Care found the following relationship between nurse work environment, nurse burnout, and patient satisfaction with nursing care:

“Patients cared for on units that nurses characterized as having adequate staff, good administrative support for nursing care, and good relations between doctors and nurses were more than twice likely as other patients to report high satisfaction with their care, and their nurses reported significantly lower burnout. The overall level of nurse burnout on hospital units also affected patient satisfaction.”

Patient Safety Clinicians suffering from burnout may be less motivated and/or may experience lower cognitive functioning due to emotional exhaustion, putting patient safety at risk.

An article published in the American Journal of Infection Control found a significant association between nurse burnout and UTIs and surgical site infection.  According to the researchers, “hospitals in which burnout was reduced by 30% had a total of 6,239 fewer infections, for an annual cost saving of up to $68 million.”

Reducing nurse burnout can decrease the likelihood of medical errors and improve patient safety at your facility.

Turnover & Nursing Shortage According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, factors contributing to the national nursing shortage include insufficient nursing school enrollment and faculty, high retirement numbers, the aging population’s need for more healthcare workers, and high turnover/number of nurses leaving the profession altogether.

Almost 1 in 5 new nurses leaves his/her first job within the first year, and about 1 in 3 leaves within the second year.  In a national study conducted by RNnetwork, “half of the nurses surveyed have considered leaving nursing.”  According to the survey, “the number one reason for wanting to leave is feeling overworked (27 percent), followed by not enjoying their job anymore (16 percent) and spending too much time on paperwork (15 percent).”

Unfortunately, there is a cyclical relationship at work here: the national nursing shortage increases nurse burnout for those who are working in the profession as their workloads consequently grow.


As you can see, the effects of nurse burnout have a critical impact on nurse well-being, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and the national nursing shortage.  Please read our next post on how to prevent and address nurse burnout to ensure your health system can avoid the dire effects of nurse burnout mentioned above.


By Stephanie Salmich

Joyce Bryant, our Patient Access Week interviewee.

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

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Joyce Bryant, our Patient Access Week interviewee.

Joyce Bryant provides Patient Access Week ideas.

Patient Access Week is here!

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 for celebrating Patient Access Week!

 

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.).”

On top of 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.  And don’t forget to share your activities and recognize your patient access employees on social media!


In addition to celebrating Patient Access Week, you can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of the year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

A healthcare employee helps a patient during National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

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HealthWare Systems Blog

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2018

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine designated February as National Wise Health Care Consumer Month with the goals of empowering patients to understand their health care options and make wise health care decisions, promoting consumer wellness, and reducing health care costs.

Wise Health Care Consumers

According to their Wise Health Care Consumer Toolkit:

“Wise health care consumers:

  • Know how to choose a health care plan
  • Choose their care providers carefully and thoughtfully
  • Communicate with their health care providers
  • Are comfortable asking questions, sharing concerns and negotiating costs
  • Analyze and evaluate sources of health information
  • Practice preventive care
  • Know when to treat themselves at home
  • Understand their prescriptions and take them as directed”

National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

This month presents an opportunity to promote the ideals of a wise health care consumer to each patient and employee at your facility.

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine’s toolkit, which contains resources to help employers promote wise health consumerism, can be downloaded here.  They also provide a free Well-Being Activity Planner to help you plan wellness events.

Additionally, some of the ways you can appeal to the patient as health care consumer and help empower your patients to make wise health care decisions include:

A healthcare employee helps a patient during National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

Empower your patients and employees to practice preventive medicine and make wise health care decisions.

This February, celebrate National Wise Health Care Consumer Month by empowering your patients and employees using the suggestions above and the resources provided by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine.

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

A calendar showing a month-by-month guide to health observances.

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:

A calendar showing a month-by-month guide to health observances.

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

 

Health Observances Throughout the Year


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

Celebrate Patient Access Professionals!

Happy Patient Access Week & Thank You to All Patient Access Professionals!

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Happy Patient Access Week & Thank You to All Patient Access Professionals!

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Celebrate Patient Access Professionals!

Celebrate Patient Access Week!

Patient Access professionals are extremely important to healthy revenue cycle management and are often the first people patients encounter at any healthcare facility. During Patient Access Week we celebrate their hard work and great value to the healthcare industry.

Not only are Patient Access staff responsible for many crucial aspects of healthy revenue cycle management (including scheduling, registration, insurance verification, document scanning and retrieval, knowledge of government compliance forms and regulations, and much more), but they also must execute their vital roles while providing exceptional customer service to patients.

HealthWare Systems would like to thank all Patient Access professionals for everything you do to improve the patient experience and your facility’s financial health every day!

Enjoy Patient Access Week!


By Stephanie Salmich

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic, 54.4% of physicians in the U.S. report experiencing at least one symptom of professional burnout, a growing problem in healthcare.

The Maslach Burnout Inventory, an instrument used to measure burnout, defines it as “a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.”  Doctors suffering from physician burnout feel drained emotionally, grow cynical toward their patients, and view their work as meaningless.  These physicians may provide a lower quality of care, commit more medical errors, and develop an increased desire to leave a practice.

Not only does physician burnout and its ensuing turnover create significant consequences for doctors and patients, but also for healthcare facilities.  A study featured in the American Journal of Medical Quality found that physician turnover can affect an organization’s finances, patient satisfaction, other healthcare providers, and institutional public relations.

How Can You Help?

It’s in the best interests of everyone (doctors, patients, and the entire organization) when hospitals take steps toward preventing and/or reducing physician burnout:

Show Them You Care

The fact that you are searching for information on reducing physician burnout already shows you care about your physicians.  It’s important to make sure they are aware of your efforts so that they feel their work is valued and appreciated.

Investing in the well being of your doctors can pay huge dividends for your facility.  Many facilities are seeing substantial improvements in their attempts to increase physician satisfaction after introducing mindfulness training and on-the-job emotional support programs.  An added benefit of these is that they increase patient satisfaction with doctors as well.

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing physician burnout will help you increase physician satisfaction.

Help Them Rediscover Their Passion

Your physicians probably pursued a career in medicine because they wanted to make a difference in people’s lives; they didn’t become doctors for the administrative duties.  Yet, research highlighted in the Canadian Family Physician journal found that two contributing factors to physician burnout and stress are too much paperwork and long waits for specialists and tests.

You can make it easier for your doctors to focus on the aspects of their job that bring them the most meaning by implementing solutions that simplify administrative tasks.  A solution like ActiveXCHANGE, for example, can help you manage incoming physician orders and third party documentation and greatly reduces physician complaints related to lost or incomplete orders.  In fact, this system is known to increase physician satisfaction.

Eliminate Financial Stressors

In a Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, frustration with reimbursement issues was among the reasons physicians surveyed planned to reduce their working hours or leave medicine altogether.

You can limit payment glitches, and improve physician retention, by ensuring patients are financially cleared before they even present.  Read here about solutions that can verify treatment is authorized by payers before it is administered, how to prevent errors that result in payment delays and denials, and financial assistance screening tools that can help your self-pay patients.


Reducing physician burnout is crucial for both your organization and the health of the people who serve your patients.  If you can help your physicians find joy in their work, you will increase physician satisfaction and physician retention; this in turn will lead you to increase patient satisfaction with their happier, more emotionally-present physicians.


By Stephanie Salmich