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

A doctor holds a smartphone showing online patient reviews.

Managing Online Patient Reviews: 5 Things to Avoid

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Managing Online Patient Reviews: 5 Things to Avoid

Posted on Monday, June 3, 2019

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


A doctor holds a smartphone showing online patient reviews.

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

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


1.)  Don’t ignore online patient reviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.)  Don’t leave a lengthy reply.

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

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

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

Thanks in advance for your help – Dr. Smith”

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

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

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

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


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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

A hospital visit full of patient and family satisfaction.

Improving Patient and Family Satisfaction

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Improving Patient and Family Satisfaction

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2019

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

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


Provide Extra Conveniences –

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

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

Make Comfort a Priority –

A hospital visit full of patient and family satisfaction.

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

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

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

Lower Waiting Room Anxiety

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


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


Support Family Engagement

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

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

Family Satisfaction Surveys –

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

Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) –

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


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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

Appealing to Millennial Patients

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Appealing to Millennial Patients

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


You may also be interested in: “Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 1)

In order to help ensure Millennials receive the care they need, heed the healthcare trends that are appealing to Millennial patients. The following are a few ideas to help get you started:

Don’t Waste Their Time

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

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

Simplify the Financial Aspects of Healthcare

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

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

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

Stay Technologically Relevant

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

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

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


You may also be interested in:  “Attracting and Retaining Millennial Healthcare Employees (Part 2)”

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

Creating a culture of patient advocacy: A healthcare employee holds a patient’s hand.

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

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

Posted on Wednesday, February 6, 2019

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

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


1.) Address The Social Determinants of Health

Creating a culture of patient advocacy: A healthcare employee holds a patient’s hand.

Create a culture of patient advocacy with Patient-First Technology like ActiveASSIST.

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

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

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

2.) Offer Financial Assistance Screening

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

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

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

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

3.)  Alleviate Stressors Surrounding Costs and Payment

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

Reducing patient uncertainty concerning the financial aspects of their care would help you foster a culture of patient advocacy.  Ensuring patients are financially cleared before arrival, generating estimates and identifying potential out-of-pocket costs, and setting up payment plans are all ways you can assist patients in this area.

4.) Provide Patient Education

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month!

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


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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment: A person holds a card that reads “Be Prepared.”

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment: 6 Tips for Your Patients

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment:

6 Tips for Your Patients

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Educating your patients and their caregivers about preparing for a doctor’s appointment can benefit all parties involved.  Patient preparation for doctor’s appointments improves patient engagement, produces better health outcomes, saves doctors time, keeps appointments on schedule, and improves the revenue cycle.

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment: A person holds a card that reads “Be Prepared.”

These tips for preparing for a doctor’s appointment will benefit both patients and providers.


Provide your patients with these tips for preparing for a doctor’s appointment:


1.      Complete all forms before you arrive. – Call ahead and find out if there are any forms you need to fill out before your appointment.  Instead of completing documentation in the waiting room, fill it out at home.  This ensures you have plenty of time to finish without delaying your appointment.  Plus, at home you will have access to any documents and information the forms ask for, which can be hard to remember on the spot.  Also, don’t forget to bring your photo ID and insurance card (especially if you have a new Medicare card).

2.      Bring a list of everything you are taking. – This includes any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, supplements, herbal remedies, and vitamins.  You may want to bring in the actual bottles or containers as well so that your doctor can quickly find the information he/she needs.

3.      Anticipate questions the doctor is likely to ask. – If you prepare answers ahead of time, you can conduct a more efficient appointment and avoid wasting precious minutes trying to recall when your symptoms started, for example.  You can find a list of common questions here.

4.      Write down your questions in order of priority. – It can be easy to forget questions if you haven’t created a list.  Start by asking the most important questions first, to make sure you get to them.  Bring a pen and paper to write down the doctor’s answers.

5.      Practice what you want to say. – Taking the time before your doctor’s appointment to state your concerns out loud can help you remember them and stick to the point.  It can also make you more comfortable discussing personal and potentially embarrassing matters with the doctor so that you can resist any temptation to stretch or withhold the truth, which will impede your care.

6.      Bring someone with you to the appointment. – This is especially useful if you are preparing for a doctor’s appointment that involves a serious, emotionally difficult issue.  A friend or relative can remind you of the concerns you want to address, bring up appropriate follow-up questions, and remember the doctor’s answers and instructions, freeing you from these burdens during what can be an emotional time.


Patient preparation for doctor’s appointments is mutually beneficial for both providers and patients.  These tips for preparing for a doctor’s appointment can help your patients maximize their limited time with the doctor and ensure they cover everything they wanted to discuss.  Preparing for a doctor’s appointment also keeps patients on schedule, allowing providers to serve more patients and improve the revenue cycle.


By Stephanie Salmich

A doctor shows a patient a healthcare form on a tablet and the blog title appears: Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2018


A doctor shows a patient a healthcare form on a tablet and the blog title appears: Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

The benefits of electronic healthcare forms include reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation; both can significantly lower hospital costs.


There are numerous benefits of electronic healthcare forms that can help lower hospital costs related to the production and inefficiencies of paper forms.  Two of these, reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation, are outlined below:

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Reducing Paper Usage

Electronic healthcare forms greatly reduce the number of pages that need to be printed, which means providers can lower hospital costs related to all aspects of printing:

  • Besides the cost of the paper itself, facilities can save money on toner, ink, and printer maintenance and service fees.  A hospital may not even need as many printers, thanks to the benefits of electronic healthcare forms.
  • Electronic healthcare forms can easily be printed on-demand if a physical copy is necessary, so there is no need to stockpile pre-printed forms that may go unused.
  • Storage space and costs are no longer necessary since pre-printing is avoided.
  • Changes and updates to forms can be made electronically and in real-time, saving providers from the cost and waste of destroying old pre-printed versions that can no longer be used due to new revisions. (Read here how BJC Healthcare, which uses over 3,000 forms, utilized ActiveFORMS to solve this problem.)
  • The cost of blue cards and labels is also eliminated thanks to barcode automation.
  • Electronic healthcare forms enable healthcare facilities to use electronic signature instead of paper consent forms, significantly reducing paper usage.  Patients will also be impressed by, and enjoy the convenience of, an electronic signature option.

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Workflow Automation

Electronic healthcare forms allow providers to replace time-consuming and costly manual processes with workflow automation:

  • One of the benefits of electronic healthcare forms is that hospitals can automate the selection, generation, and routing of forms.  This ensures the correct, visit-specific documentation is produced every time (saving on costs associated with rework and denials due to missing paperwork/consents) and relieves the registrar from the burden of remembering selection criteria for every form used (saving on training costs and time spent searching for and gathering documents).
  • Standard patient demographic data and barcode identifiers on electronic healthcare forms prevent forms from being confused between different charts and save staff time from needing to label or handwrite the same patient data on every form.
  • Electronic healthcare forms that are barcoded, clean originals streamline the scan/capture process used by electronic document management systems (EDMS).  Separating multi-part forms or dealing with fourth generation copies that are barely legible can become issues of the past.
  • Improving workflow automation increases productivity and saves employees time, creating opportunities to reduce or repurpose FTEs(Read here how Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital grew its surgery department by 20% without an increase in FTEs, thanks to workflow automation and ActiveFORMS.)

The benefits of electronic healthcare forms are many; reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation will not only help providers to lower hospital costs, but also help hospitals to reduce or repurpose FTEs, increase efficiency, increase employee satisfaction and retention, reduce hospital waste, appeal to the healthcare consumer’s attraction to corporate social responsibility, improve accuracy and patient safety, and increase patient satisfaction.


By Stephanie Salmich

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reducing patient uncertainty should be a high priority item for healthcare providers.  Feelings of uncertainty can affect the patient experience and lower patient satisfaction.

Most of us are uncomfortable with uncertainty and many visits to healthcare facilities are made with the purpose of diminishing it.  Patients seek out your facility hoping to find answers to health questions; the last thing they are looking for is even more confusion.

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing patient uncertainty can vastly improve the patient experience.

Below are 6 areas that can either increase or decrease patient uncertainty.
By reducing patient uncertainty through addressing these areas, providers can greatly improve the patient experience:

1. – Online Presence:

A strong online presence and positive online reviews can aid in reducing patient uncertainty by helping patients become more familiar with your facility and organization before they even visit.  Utilize your website and social media accounts to their full advantage.

For example, a study published in the journal Health Communication found that video biographies for primary care physicians were more effective in reducing patient uncertainty than the standard text biographies that most providers post on their websites.

2. – Wayfinding:

Navigating their way around an unfamiliar building can increase patients’ anxiety over their hospital visit.  Wayfinding solutions (such as digital signage, mobile apps that guide patients around your campus, and touchscreen kiosks that print wayfinding maps) can ensure that patients and their visitors don’t get lost, all while reducing patient uncertainty about finding their destination.

3. – The Waiting Room:

The waiting room offers numerous opportunities for reducing patient uncertainty surrounding many topics.  In the waiting room, uncertainty about wait times can be just as frustrating as the actual waiting.  Patients’ family members face uncertainty as well, about how long they’ll be waiting, about the details of a procedure, and about the outcome for their family member.

A patient tracking board and real-time text updates can be instrumental in reducing patient uncertainty and lowering waiting room anxiety for patients’ family members.  Patients can better gauge how long they’ll be waiting, and patients’ family members know their loved one’s status at each stage (e.g. “in prep,” “in surgery,” “in recovery”) of the encounter.

4. – Interoperability:

Patients should not have to face uncertainty regarding whether their doctor has all the information he/she needs to properly care for them.  Yet, only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care according to research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

With odds like these, patient uncertainty about transfer of medical records or if a physician’s order/referral will be received in time is warranted.  Reducing patient uncertainty can be accomplished by ensuring your facility can electronically send, receive, find, and integrate/use all necessary health information.

5. – The Discharge Process:

Researchers have created a new tool called the Uncertainty Scale to measure patient uncertainty and predict hospital readmissions.  Some of the major themes they’ve found in their work include patients’:

  • “Lack of clarity regarding self-management, such that patients are unsure how to deal with symptoms at home”
  • “Lack of self-efficacy, manifesting as patients not knowing where to go for help for certain symptoms”
  • “Lack of clarity about the decision to seek care, meaning that patients do not know which symptoms are serious enough to warrant seeing a health professional”

Improving patient education during the discharge process can help in reducing patient uncertainty about self-care, where to seek help, and when it is necessary to seek help, as well as lower readmission rates.

6. – Payments:

Patients want price transparency and as wise healthcare consumers, they have the right to be informed about the use of their healthcare dollars.  Confusion about health insurance and how much money they owe for health services, even after they’ve received a bill, is a source of patient uncertainty.  Patients may have great clinical outcomes, yet, if they are surprised when the bill is larger than expected, their satisfaction surveys will reflect low scores.

Providing estimates for out-of-pocket costs upfront, helping patients with insurance issues, preventing insurance-related errors, and helping patients identify and apply for financial assistance opportunities can all help in reducing patient uncertainty about cost.


Uncertainty is unfortunately a common experience in healthcare for those with undiagnosed conditions and symptoms for which an explanation is unclear.  The six areas outlined here are within your control; by reducing patient uncertainty in these areas, your facility can greatly improve the patient experience.


By Stephanie Salmich

A doctor and patients smile behind the blog’s title: ADDRESS PATIENT TRANSPORTATION NEEDS TO CREATE BETTER HEALTH OUTCOMES.

Address Patient Transportation Needs to Create Better Health Outcomes

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Address Patient Transportation Needs to Create Better Health Outcomes

Posted on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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

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

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


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


A doctor and patients smile behind the blog’s title: ADDRESS PATIENT TRANSPORTATION NEEDS TO CREATE BETTER HEALTH OUTCOMES.

Educate Patients About Transportation Options


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

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

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

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

Create New Patient Transportation Options


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

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

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

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

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

Alleviate Patient Transportation Needs by Bringing Care to the Patients


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

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

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


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

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


By Stephanie Salmich