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

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

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 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

Touchscreen kiosks are a great wayfinding solution.

Improve Hospital Navigation and the Patient Experience with a Wayfinding Solution

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Improve Hospital Navigation and the Patient Experience with a Wayfinding Solution

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Navigating their way through a large hospital building full of many different hallways and departments can add an extra layer of anxiety to an already stressful experience for patients, their families and friends.  Adding a wayfinding solution dramatically improves hospital navigation and the patient experience.

Here are three different technological wayfinding solutions hospitals are adding to their facilities:


1. Mobile Apps

Hospitals have been developing their own apps to help patients navigate through their facility. By adding this type of technology-driven wayfinding solution, visitors are easily guided to their destination and this adds to a more enjoyable hospital visit. After all, cell phones and mobile technology are constantly around us (most of the time in our hands); why not use a smartphone app to help patients direct their way through the facility? Some mobile apps even include interior maps with turn-by-turn directions to any destination on campus!

Touchscreen kiosks are a great wayfinding solution.

Wayfinding solution: ActiveTRACK Touchscreen Kiosk

2. Touchscreen Kiosks

Some hospitals have created a wayfinding solution through touchscreen kiosks installed in their lobbies for patients to check-in. These “greeter stations” provide the ability to not only check-in without the assistance of a greeter, but the patient can also scan any needed documentation (e.g. driver’s license, insurance card). Any captured documents are delivered to the registrar electronically.

Touchscreen kiosks can print physical wayfinding maps as well as registration packets for the visitor to review while he/she waits. This helps expedite the final registration step and provides patients with something to do while they are waiting, enhancing the patient experience.

3. Digital Signage

A patient notification board is a great wayfinding solution.

Wayfinding solution: ActiveTRACK Patient Notification Board

 

Having digital signs throughout a hospital is very helpful for wandering visitors. With maps and announcements being displayed, guests won’t get lost while visiting loved ones and hospital staff won’t miss important messages.

One specific type of digital signage used in some hospitals is a patient notification board. A patient notification board informs patients when to proceed to a registration booth. It provides an audible tone and/or message when a registrar is available and ready to serve them. Between these notifications, the patient notification board can be set up to display marketing and informational messages to patients while they are waiting (e.g. wellness programs, hospital services).

 


True, these current wayfinding solutions for hospital navigation cater to a younger, more tech-savvy hospital visitor, but keeping up with the current trends and technology takes a facility to the next level.  Implementing a wayfinding solution from the list above can leave an extremely impressive and lasting impression on the patient experience.


By Samantha Willis

A woman and her daughter forming their first impressions in healthcare at the reception desk.

First Impressions in Healthcare: 3 Critical Moments to Consider

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HealthWare Systems Blog

First Impressions in Healthcare: 3 Critical Moments to Consider

Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Forming positive first impressions in healthcare starts before your patient’s appointment even begins.

Here are three critical moments to consider:

Choosing the Facility – Online Presence

Before a patient decides to utilize your services, he/she may seek information about your organization online.  Patients visit your website, check out your Facebook page or other social media accounts, and read online reviews about your facility and clinicians.  Is your website easy to use and up to date?  How does it compare to your competition’s?  Are you leveraging the power of social media in healthcare and monitoring online reviews related to your facility?

Creating positive first impressions in healthcare begins with managing your online reputation.

Setting the Appointment – Over the Phone or Online

How complicated is it for a patient to set an appointment with your facility?  When patients call, how long is it before they talk to a real, live human being (and is that person pleasant to speak with)?  Negative first impressions in healthcare can easily form when patients become frustrated by rudeness, long holds, and uncertainty about how long they’ll be waiting on hold or for a call to be returned.  Train your staff to practice strategic telephone etiquette that will boost efficiency and increase patient satisfaction.

You can further improve the patient experience by providing the option to set appointments online, through a patient portal or mobile app, for example.  These resources (which are available 24/7, outside of normal calling hours) can make setting an appointment more convenient for some patients, plus they won’t have to worry about being placed on hold during busy calling times.

Arriving at the Facility – Be a Hospitable Hospital

When patients arrive at your facility for the first time, they should feel welcome.  Create an inviting atmosphere that begins with the lobby, waiting room, and greeting.

The lobby and waiting area must look neat and professional.  Guests feel welcomed when they can see that their hosts have taken great care to prepare for their visit by cleaning, organizing, and providing provisions just for them.  Consider offering refreshments, like coffee and water, and stocking the waiting area with items to occupy your guests’ time (e.g. CURRENT issues of magazines, games, puzzles, free Wi-Fi).  Make their wait as comfortable as possible, which will greatly improve the patient experience.

Just as important to creating positive first impressions in healthcare is the greeting your guests receive as they enter your facility.  Staff should exhibit a friendly, positive, calm attitude that sets the tone for the rest of the patient experience.  A rude or visibly agitated greeter can completely negate your other efforts to create positive first impressions in healthcare.

A woman and her daughter forming their first impressions in healthcare at the reception desk.

First impressions in healthcare start before the patient’s appointment even begins.


First impressions in healthcare affect patients’ perceptions of the rest of their experience with your facility.  When you improve the patient experience throughout these three critical moments that shape first impressions in healthcare, you will greatly increase patient satisfaction overall.


By Stephanie Salmich

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.

5 Revealing Statistics Concerning the Need for Better Interoperability in Healthcare

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HealthWare Systems Blog

5 Revealing Statistics Concerning the Need for Better Interoperability in Healthcare

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In today’s world, interoperability is more important than ever as patients may see multiple providers or receive care from multiple health systems in order to address a single health issue.  In the interest of increasing patient safety and improving the patient experience, health systems must be able to communicate with one another regarding important patient health information.  Information that one provider sends to another could save a life or, at the very least, take the burden of tracking and providing information off the patient.

Even though the technology exists to meet this need, many hospitals are still struggling with interoperability in healthcare as the following revealing statistics demonstrate.

According to research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology concerning non-federal acute care hospitals in the U.S.:

1.  Only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care.

2. Only 18% of hospitals reported that their providers “often” used electronically received patient health information from outside sources when treating their patients; 35% said they “sometimes” did, 20% said “rarely,” 16% said “never,” and 11% did not know.

The top reasons for rarely or never using electronically received patient health information from outside sources were:  the information is not available in the EHR as part of the clinician’s workflow (53%), it’s difficult to integrate healthcare data in the EHR (45%), the information isn’t always available when needed (40%), and the information is not accessible in a useful format (29%).

3. 55% of hospitals named their exchange partners’ EHR systems’ lack of ability to receive data as a barrier to interoperability.

4. Only 38% of hospitals had the ability to use or integrate healthcare data from outside sources into their own EHRs without manual entry.

5. Only 26% of hospitals conducted all 4 core domains (electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using key clinical information) of interoperability in healthcare.

The number of hospitals that have achieved interoperability in healthcare is simply too low to guarantee patient safety and the continuity of care that patients deserve.  Improving the patient experience will depend on hospitals’ ability to integrate healthcare data and IT systems with the use of solutions that create complete (sending, receiving, finding, AND integrating/using data), rather than partial, interoperability in healthcare.

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.


By Stephanie Salmich

A scattered pile of papers that contribute to health insurance confusion.

Addressing Health Insurance Confusion to Improve the Patient Experience

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Addressing Health Insurance Confusion to Improve the Patient Experience

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A scattered pile of papers that contribute to health insurance confusion.

Patients can become overwhelmed by health insurance.

Health insurance confusion is a major barrier to a good patient experience.

Hospitals are no strangers to the headaches that come with insurance reimbursement issues. Dealing with health insurance is hard enough for staff trained in the subject.  Imagine the confusion your patients must face when they receive a medical bill or attempt to estimate what a medical service will cost them.

Unfortunately, health insurance illiteracy is becoming an increasing problem in our country; a 2013 American Institute of CPAs survey estimates that over half (51%) of U.S. adults cannot correctly identify at least one of three basic insurance terms (“premium,” “deductible,” and “copay”) and the U.S. Department of Education finds only 12% of adults proficiently health literate.

Addressing Health Insurance Confusion

Acknowledging health insurance confusion and making this aspect of a patient’s visit easier can improve the patient experience and has many advantages for your facility, too.

In fact, a recent study by Lavidge had consumers rank healthcare marketing phrases by preference, with the phrase “We will handle all insurance matters for you” coming in second place. If you can make and fulfill this claim, you’ll attract and keep more patients and increase patient satisfaction.

But don’t stop there; consider going a step further by helping your patients apply for financial assistance as well. Many patients are unaware of the programs available to them, or that they may qualify for assistance. Think of how much more you can improve the patient experience if you simplify insurance AND the financial assistance application process for your patients. (HealthWare’s ActiveASSIST is a great tool for managing and tracking the entire financial assistance process.)

Patient satisfaction is not all that’s at stake, however; health insurance confusion can also cause patients to avoid medical care in the first place or lead them into medical debt. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a major reason that 42.9 million Americans have unpaid medical bills is that they are confused about what they owe and why.

Alleviating patients’ health insurance confusion will vastly improve the patient experience at your facility, encourage patients to seek the care they need, and ultimately help you get paid.


By Stephanie Salmich