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

Text message and email examples for a patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.

Patient Outreach Amid a Pandemic: Bring Patients Back for Preventive Care

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Outreach Amid a Pandemic:

Bring Patients Back for Preventive Care

Posted on Friday, January 29, 2021

A robust patient outreach strategy may be the answer to healthcare’s latest problem resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic: Patients are missing preventive care visits at alarming rates.

Here are the statistics:

  • According to research released in May of 2020, at that point preventive screenings for cervical, colon, and breast cancer had dropped between 86% and 94% compared to the same time frame in 2017 to 2019.
  • Research reviewed by the CDC concluded 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%).”
  • A study conducted by the University of Oregon found that 28% of families missed a well-child visit since the pandemic started; and 12% of the 7,000+ caregivers surveyed said their child missed a scheduled vaccination.
  • In its analysis of health claims clearinghouse records, HCCI determined that through “September 2020, childhood immunizations declined about 23% for the year compared to 2019.”

There are many short- and long-term consequences of a decline in preventive care.

As the CDC states, avoiding routine care may mean missed “opportunities for management of chronic conditions, receipt of routine vaccinations, or early detection of new conditions, which might worsen outcomes.” Fewer immunizations can lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Children who skip check-ups miss out on social, emotional, and developmental screenings and abuse and neglect surveillance.

Financially, healthcare costs increase for patients, payers, and providers when preventive health services are not adequately utilized, and care gaps adversely affect hospitals’ reimbursement under value-based care models.

Using Patient Outreach to Bring Patients Back


It is essential that healthcare organizations communicate with their patients about the dangers of delaying or avoiding care. Potential messages may include:

  • Awareness campaigns educating patients on the recommendations for preventive care.
  • Statistics on better health outcomes for early detection of common cancers.
  • A list of preventive screenings that are covered by most health plans.
  • Appointment reminders and alerts for missed appointments.
Text message and email examples for a patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.

A patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.


Additionally, many COVID-related factors are contributing to patients’ avoidance of preventive care, and each of these could be addressed by a patient outreach program as well.

For example:

Bring patients back for preventive care with a patient outreach strategy.

  • Delays in care could be in response to stay-at-home orders and/or temporary healthcare facility closures. Create a patient outreach plan that notifies patients of your facility’s hours of operation for routine care so that they know you are both open and encouraging regular visits. This will help reduce any uncertainty they have about when to seek care.
  • Patients might be worried about possible exposure to COVID-19 if they visit a healthcare facility. A patient outreach strategy could include information on the measures your organization is taking to reduce this risk, such as your cleaning procedures, face mask requirements, social distancing rules for staff and patients, strict visitor limitations, and moving non-essential staff off site. Reassure patients of your efforts to keep them safe.
  • Patients may be experiencing unemployment, a loss of health insurance, and/or other financial hardship. Many are unaware of financial assistance programs that could help cover the cost of their medical bills or that they may qualify for another health plan. Start a patient outreach campaign that informs them of these options, especially if your health system can help them apply for financial assistance and/or health coverage!

As the pandemic continues to confuse patients about when to seek care and why, it is imperative that you reach out and communicate with them.

Patient Outreach: ActiveXCHANGE by HealthWare Systems


ActiveXCHANGE 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.

Request a live demo of ActiveXCHANGE to learn how we can help you build a patient outreach program to bring patients back to your facility and the critical preventive care they need.


By Stephanie Salmich

Various devices and forms of communication appear along with the words: Achieve Healthcare Interoperability with ActiveXCHANGE.

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

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HealthWare Systems Blog

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

Posted on Monday, October 12, 2020

ActiveXCHANGE is our solution for helping organizations achieve healthcare interoperability. Below you’ll find information on the basics of interoperability in healthcare, the challenges healthcare facilities face, and how we can help you solve them.

What Is Healthcare Interoperability?


According to HIMSS:

“In healthcare, interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged. Data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared across clinician, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of the application or application vendor.

Interoperability means the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.”

Why Is Achieving Interoperability Important?


  • Interoperability is vital to patient safety and public health and a lack of interoperability leads to poor health outcomes and higher healthcare costs.
  • Seamlessly sending, receiving, interpreting, and integrating data significantly improves the patient experience and patients often expect that their information will be readily available to them and their healthcare providers.
  • Federal efforts to achieve healthcare interoperability are aimed at giving patients access to and control over their own medical information.
  • Interoperable technology streamlines organizational workflows and increases efficiency, plus cuts costs, by eliminating manual and redundant steps in the process of exchanging data.
  • Better interoperability helps with reducing physician burnout, which is often tied to EMR frustrations and administrative burdens that can be traced back to interoperability problems (such as sifting through an overwhelming abundance of low-quality data to find the information they need and spending more time with the computer than with the patient).
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) states that “Seamless data flow will also accelerate progress on a range of national health priorities that include combatting the opioid epidemic, spurring clinical innovation, and accelerating science.”

What Are the Challenges to Achieving Interoperability in Healthcare?


Various devices and forms of communication appear along with the words: Achieve Healthcare Interoperability with ActiveXCHANGE.

Achieve healthcare interoperability with ActiveXCHANGE.

  • Disparate Technology Systems – there are numerous distinct EMRs in use today by different health providers and organizations, and most were not made for the purpose of integrating with others.
  • No Standardization – there has been no uniform method of identifying patients or shared clinical terminology used among different EMRs, resulting in inaccuracies when matching individuals to their health data, duplicate medical records/patient accounts, and costly repeat testing.
  • Fragmented Data & Information Delays – variations between systems in the way they handle information also leads to incomplete medical records and slows down the transmission of data.
  • Unstructured Data – information may be exchanged in a myriad of different formats, including fax, scanned images/documents, hard copies, and other non-electronic forms of unstructured data; many facilities are only able to integrate this information through manual work.
  • Design and Usability – the ONC found that barriers to interoperability identified by healthcare providers and other stakeholders include “the differences in user-interface design across developers variations in the design that make day-to-day use complicated when a health care provider uses multiple systems and the lack of developer engagement with end users of health IT regarding design needs.”
  • Cost of Replacing Technology – providers have made large investments in their EMRs and other health IT systems and may be unable or hesitant to purchase new solutions.
  • Security Concerns – providers are also cautious of maintaining patient privacy and HIPAA compliance when considering new solutions.
  • Information Blocking* – due to “legal and business incentives,” health “information networks and their participants often treat individuals’ electronic health information as an asset that can be restricted to obtain or maintain competitive advantage,” per the ONC.
  • Third Party Integration – challenges extend beyond the internal solutions used by the healthcare provider. Third party solution providers and service vendors introduce additional challenges for sharing information between systems.

*In accordance with the Cures Act and Interoperability and Patient Access final rule (CMS-9115-F), in late 2020 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start publicly reporting “eligible clinicians, hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that may be information blocking” and “those providers who do not list or update their digital contact information in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES).”

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Solve These Challenges to Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?


ActiveXCHANGE helps facilities achieve healthcare interoperability in the following ways:

  • Provides a bi-directional gateway for consolidating information from any source (this includes 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).
  • Interprets all information and makes it actionable, regardless of the structured or unstructured format in which it’s received.
  • Automatically transforms all incoming information into an electronic format.
  • Performs “image cleanup” (e.g. corrects alignment issues, discards blank or irrelevant pages, “de-speckles” to remove unwanted marks) on graphic images and scanned documents and extracts key data from each page.
  • Intelligently manages information objects by using business rules to find and make usable relevant data, determining what to do with that information, and flagging errors and exceptions (for example, detecting missing signatures or required forms/documentation) for resolution.
  • Drives and automates processes and workflows based on business rules and triggered by incoming information objects.
  • Routes 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 and in a user-friendly form that the destination system can accept.
  • Operates bi-directionally to manage incoming and outgoing communication (e.g. automated voice message (TTS), text, e-mail, pagers, fax, traditional mail) between healthcare facilities, patients, physicians, affiliated organizations, remote workers, payers, and vendors – whether the recipient has an ActiveXCHANGE server or not.
  • Ensures the secure, HIPAA-compliant exchange of information.
  • Supports custom workflows and can be configured to meet the unique needs of each department across a client enterprise.
  • HealthWare Systems specializes in integrating proprietary and third-party patient access technologies and provides the platform for connecting disparate health IT systems and EMRs/EHRs, so there is no need to replace your investment in your current technology.
  • All costs (e.g. software, implementation, training, transaction fees, hardware) for our solutions are included in one monthly subscription payment and there are NO upfront fees, creating a more immediate return on investment for our clients.

As the ONC wrote, “Improved interoperability can strengthen market competition, result in greater quality, safety, and value for the healthcare system, and enable patients, health care providers, and payers to experience the benefits of health IT.”

Contact us today to learn more about how ActiveXCHANGE can help you achieve healthcare interoperability or schedule a live demo of our solution.


By Stephanie Salmich

This woman taking her daughter to see a doctor represents one of the responsibilities of some women as healthcare decision makers.

The Crucial Role of Women as Healthcare Decision Makers

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HealthWare Systems Blog

The Crucial Role of Women as Healthcare Decision Makers

Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2020

In order to attract and retain the loyalty of an extremely important demographic, health facilities must recognize women as healthcare decision makers.  Many women determine not only where they will receive care, but where their family members will as well.

This woman taking her daughter to see a doctor represents one of the responsibilities of some women as healthcare decision makers.

Hospitals must recognize women as healthcare decision makers.


Consider the following statistics that illustrate the significant role of women as healthcare decision makers for their families:

  • Seventy-nine percent of mothers report that they usually choose their children’s healthcare provider, compared to 22% of fathers who report responsibility for this decision.
  • Seventy-seven percent of mothers report that they usually take their children to doctor’s appointments, compared to 24% of fathers who report responsibility for this.
  • Whether or not they are married or have children, 94% of women make healthcare decisions for themselves and 59% make healthcare decisions for others.
  • According to the CDC, 58% of family caregivers are women (although other estimates range from 53 to 68 percent).
  • In its study on women and healthcare decisions, the Center for Talent Innovation found that 58% of women who make healthcare decisions for others lack confidence in their ability to do so.

Based on the results of its study, the CTI report suggests ways in which healthcare professionals and organizations like doctors, pharmacists, and insurance and pharmaceutical companies could build more trusting relationships with their female patients and consequently improve their confidence.

Additionally, the authors recommend viewing women as the “Chief Medical Officers” of their families to ensure their roles as healthcare decision makers get the “notice or respect” they deserve.

When a hospital recognizes women as healthcare decision makers, focusing on appealing to female healthcare consumers makes sense.  Ideally, once you’ve earned the loyalty of your female patients, they will book their family members’ appointments with your organization as well.


Here are a few ways some facilities are appealing to female healthcare consumers:

Hospitals can’t afford to ignore the large influence women have over the health and healthcare decisions of their partners/spouses, children, elderly parents, and other relatives.  Recognizing and appealing to women as healthcare decision makers can help you gain more female patients and, importantly, numerous other patients related to them.


By Stephanie Salmich

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

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, 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.

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!

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

Physicians hold a thumbs up sign for solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.

Streamline Prior Authorizations with a Pre-Arrival Workflow Solution

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

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

Spring Cleaning! The Health Benefits of a Clean Home

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

This doctor talking to his patient is taking proactive steps toward increasing preventive screenings for men!

Increasing Preventive Screenings for Men at Your Facility

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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.

This doctor talking to his patient is taking proactive steps toward increasing preventive screenings for men!

Take proactive steps toward increasing preventive screenings for men!


By Stephanie Salmich

Increasing mammogram appointments… a woman holds a sign reading “Have YOU scheduled your annual MAMMOGRAM?”

Ideas for Increasing Mammogram Appointments

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Ideas for Increasing Mammogram Appointments

Posted on Monday, October 1, 2018

Increasing mammogram appointments… a woman holds a sign reading “Have YOU scheduled your annual MAMMOGRAM?”

Take proactive steps toward increasing mammogram appointments!

October is the perfect time to focus on increasing mammogram appointments.  During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, prioritize preventive care using the suggestions below.


Consider these ideas for increasing mammogram appointments at your facility:


Educate your patients on breast cancer prevention.  Patients may be unclear on the correct or most-up-to-date recommendations for mammography screening or may have heard conflicting instructions from different organizations.  Make sure your clinicians clarify.

“Current guidelines from the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging recommend that women receive annual mammograms starting at age 40 — even if they have no symptoms or family history of breast cancer.”

Ensure patients are aware that most health plans are required to cover the cost of a breast cancer mammography screening for women over 40 every 1 to 2 years (when performed by an in-network provider).  Highlight the fact that most plans also cannot charge a copayment or coinsurance for this service even if the patient has not met her yearly deductible yet.  Some states even require insurers to cover 3D mammograms.  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.

Send mammogram reminders through texts, emails, letters, postcards, and/or phone calls. A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente found mammogram reminders to be very effective in increasing mammogram appointments, especially when sent to patients whose mammogram appointments were coming due.

When patients check in, instruct registrars to ask them if they’ve scheduled their annual mammogram exam yet; and if not, have registrars try to schedule one with them.  Additionally, registrars should confirm they have the correct mailing address and phone number for the patient in the system used to send mammogram reminders.

Use their time in the waiting room as an opportunity to reach your patients.  For example, print mammogram reminders on the back of wayfinding maps.  If you use a lobby display screen or patient notification board, include mammogram reminders and breast cancer prevention facts that appear periodically throughout your rotation of announcements.  Or, use a mammogram reminder as the full-time backdrop of your screen.

(Read here how one acute care facility used ActiveTRACK to promote customizable messages, including encouragement of mammogram appointments during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to patients in their waiting area.)

Improve patient engagement with preventive health by utilizing social media in healthcare.  Share mammogram reminders, educational materials, and powerful statistics demonstrating the importance of early detection.  For instance, according to the American College of Radiology, “mammography has helped reduce breast cancer mortality in the U.S. by nearly 40% since 1990” and “skipping a mammogram every other year would miss up to 30% of cancers.”

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

Emphasize your goal of increasing mammogram appointments to your staff. Stratis Health suggests providing your clinicians and registrars with “missed opportunity” reports, which would demonstrate the number of patients who visited throughout the month who were due/overdue for their mammogram appointments but did not get scheduled.


October is the opportune time to launch a breast cancer awareness campaign!  Of course, the suggestions above are best used throughout the entire year to help you in your goal of increasing mammogram appointments and improving your rates of early detection to save lives.


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