Male patient engagement: A doctor and male patient shake hands.

Male Patient Engagement: Improving Men’s Health Outcomes

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Male Patient Engagement: Improving Men’s Health Outcomes

Posted on Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Improving male patient engagement is a struggle for many providers who find that men are much less likely than women to seek care, whether it be for a specific health concern, preventive healthcare, or standard annual exam.

Consider the following alarming statistics concerning men’s health outcomes:

Men’s Health Network provides these explanations for “The Silent Health Crisis” men are experiencing:

  • “A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage.
  • Men make ½ as many physician visits for prevention.
  • Men are employed in the most dangerous occupations, such as mining, fire fighting, construction, and fishing.
  • Society discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys.
  • Research on male-specific diseases is under funded.
  • Men may have less healthy lifestyles including risk-taking at younger ages.”

Improving Male Patient Engagement

Male patient engagement: A doctor and male patient shake hands.

Improving male patient engagement is critical to improving men’s health outcomes. Start your commitment today.


June is Men’s Health Month.  Men’s Health Month presents an opportunity for healthcare facilities to address the epidemic of poor male patient engagement.  Men’s Health Network offers many ideas for promoting Men’s Health Month and improving male patient engagement and men’s health outcomes, including: 

In addition, hospitals should educate male patients about their payment options.  Costs may deter male patients from seeing a doctor, and they may not realize that they could be eligible for free or low-cost screenings through their insurance carrier, Medicare, or financial assistance programs.

Healthcare facilities should also make the issues of improving male patient engagement and men’s health outcomes top priorities all year long.  A great example for providers is the work of Dr. Paul Turek (an international leader in men’s health who boasts a 90+% patient engagement rate).  Dr. Turek’s blog lists his suggestions and rules for improving male patient engagement.

Men’s health outcomes affect not only the men and boys in all our lives, but also their families and the women who love them.  Through improving male patient engagement providers can benefit families and their community by improving men’s health outcomes, all while boosting revenue (in the form of more appointments kept by, and more preventive screening tests administered to, male patients).

You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, and a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here.


By Stephanie Salmich

A 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

Improve patient safety for patients like the family and newborn pictured here.

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018

In 2018, it can be easy to take patient safety for granted; however, studies show that we have a long way to go to truly improve patient safety:

According to a nationwide survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, 21% of patients report experience with medical errors.  The survey also found that these medical errors “often have lasting impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.”

With approximately 251,454 deaths in the U.S. per year due to medical errors, Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate that this is the third leading cause of death in the country.  (Research published in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates the number of premature deaths due to medical errors could be even higher – over 400,000 per year.)

Patient safety is of the utmost importance to any healthcare system, so how can these numbers be so high?

As the PatientSafe Network explains, there are many obstacles that thwart or diminish efforts to improve patient safety.  These include issues regarding cognitive dissonance, blame/pointing fingers, complexity, cost, and many more.  See their full list of (18!) obstacles here.

Improve Patient Safety

Improve patient safety for patients like the family and newborn pictured here.

Make the commitment to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety during National Patient Safety Awareness Week.

This week is National Patient Safety Awareness Week, an initiative of The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) “designed to mark a dedicated time and a platform to increase awareness about patient safety among health professionals and the public,” according to their website.  There will be two main issues highlighted this year – safety culture and patient engagement.

National Patient Safety Awareness Week offers an opportunity for both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers to come together to improve patient safety.  IHI and NPSF offer plenty of ideas for getting involved and a day-by-day guide to activities for the week, and invite you to join the conversation on social media (use the hashtag #PSAW in your posts).

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.

In order to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors and patient safety risks, it will take the work of all stakeholders (administrators, clinicians, staff, patients, family members, etc.) to raise awareness of this critical issue.  It will also take their commitment to making the changes necessary for lowering risks to patient safety.


By Stephanie Salmich

A doctor holds a tablet showing healthy food images representing the blog topic – reduce patient malnutrition.

Taking Steps to Reduce Patient Malnutrition is Critical to Health Outcomes

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Taking Steps to Reduce Patient Malnutrition is Critical to Health Outcomes

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When we look at the statistics, the importance of taking steps to reduce patient malnutrition becomes clear.  A study of 818 inpatients published in Clinical Nutrition found that up to one third were malnourished, resulting in “poor hospitalization outcomes” such as increased mortality rates and higher costs of care.

Indeed, according to an article published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

“Malnutrition is associated with many adverse outcomes, including an increased risk of pressure ulcers and impaired wound healing, immune suppression and increased infection rate, muscle wasting and functional loss increasing the risk of falls, longer length of hospital stay, higher readmission rates, higher treatment costs, and increased mortality.”

The authors of the article point out that malnutrition is often overlooked, despite its dire consequences and the startling number of patients who suffer from it.  Per research cited in the article, it is estimated that in developed countries at least one third of patients are malnourished to some degree at the point of admission; during their hospital stay, the nutrition of about two thirds of these patients will worsen if untreated; and about one third of patients who are not malnourished when admitted may become malnourished during their stay.

Fortunately, hospitals can prevent many of the negative effects of malnutrition.  The authors of the article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggest healthcare facilities apply the following six principles to nutrition care in order to reduce patient malnutrition:

Reduce Patient Malnutrition


1 – “Create an institutional culture where all stakeholders value nutrition” – Administrators and all healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, etc.) must collaborate.

2 – “Redefine clinicians’ roles to include nutrition care” – Provide clinicians with nutrition training and continuing education.

3 – “Recognize and diagnose all malnourished patients and those at risk” – Every hospitalized patient should be screened according to a standardized procedure.

4 – “Rapidly implement comprehensive nutrition interventions and continued monitoring” – Immediate nutrition interventions must be a high priority; consumption must be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

5 – “Communicate nutrition care plans” – Ensure patients’ nutrition care plans are updated in the EHR and all healthcare professionals are informed.

6 – “Develop a comprehensive discharge nutrition care and education plan” – Communicate the nutrition care plan to the patient and caregivers, provide them with nutrition education, and follow up to check adherence to the plan.


A doctor holds a tablet showing healthy food images representing the blog topic – reduce patient malnutrition.

Reduce patient malnutrition to improve health outcomes.

A piece featured on the Hospitals & Health Networks website proposes that “before implementing interventions, a hospital must first visualize food as medicine to realize the impact that food can make in the community.”  This article provides many ideas for hospitals looking to serve their communities and reduce patient malnutrition (such as establishing on-site gardens, healthy cooking classes, food pantries, and food pharmacies).

March is National Nutrition Month®, an education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This is the perfect time to start implementing the above principles at your facility and take steps to reduce patient malnutrition.  You can also promote healthy eating habits for your employees and patients using the tools the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides here.

Don’t forget to recognize the RDNs who serve and advance the health of your community by celebrating Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day (the second Wednesday in March) as well!


You can also find ideas for promoting other health observances throughout the year here, a detailed calendar of this year’s health observances and recognition days here, and information on the other social determinants of health here.


By Stephanie Salmich

A person presses a button on a fax machine and part of the blog title appears – Secure Healthcare Faxing and Information Exchange: Is Your Fax Machine Sabotaging Your HIPAA Compliance?

Secure Healthcare Faxing and Information Exchange: Is Your Fax Machine Sabotaging Your HIPAA Compliance?

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Secure Healthcare Faxing and Information Exchange

Is Your Fax Machine Sabotaging Your HIPAA Compliance?

Posted on Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Providers strive to protect patient privacy with secure healthcare faxing and information exchange. Unfortunately, the tool often used for the job is the outdated and unreliable fax machine. According to a national survey of physicians, 63% say they use fax machines as their primary way to communicate with other physicians.

While many would like this technology retired for good, for now it seems the fax machine may continue to be a necessary evil in the industry; therefore, it’s important for healthcare facilities to consider its effect on patient privacy and HIPAA compliance, as well as solutions for ensuring secure healthcare faxing and information exchange.

Security & HIPAA Compliance Issues


Here are just a few ways your fax machines may be putting your facility’s security at risk:

A person presses a button on a fax machine and part of the blog title appears – Secure Healthcare Faxing and Information Exchange: Is Your Fax Machine Sabotaging Your HIPAA Compliance?

Do you have tools in place that enable secure healthcare faxing and information exchange?

Wrong numbers – Fax machines are not immune to human error. All it takes is for an employee to press one incorrect button, and a patient’s identity and private health information are exposed to a random recipient whose trustworthiness is unknown.  Even if you provide a cover sheet that explains the fax is classified and for a specific recipient, you have no control over the actions of the person on the other end.

Lost or incomplete documents – With numerous, multi-page documents coming in at the same time, pages can get mixed up and sorted into the wrong pile.  Someone without the proper authorization can unintentionally gain access to confidential material, jeopardizing patient privacy.

Physical location – Where do you keep your fax machines?  Have you placed them in busy areas where everyone can easily access them, like many organizations have?  While this may be convenient, anyone could walk by and read, or even steal, sensitive documents.  A fax can also be received outside of regular office hours, when there are even fewer workers around to notice potential theft. 

Physical disposal – Are you certain your staff members dispose of every single sensitive paper document in the proper shred box, and that they are never placed in a regular garbage can? (And how much money are you spending on a HIPAA-compliant document shredding company?)  Additionally, thermal fax machines contain a carbon copy of every fax they’ve ever sent or received.  If this type of machine is not properly discarded, it can end up unsecured in a landfill or sold to anyone who could effortlessly retrieve all the information that ever passed through the device.

Inadequate audit trails – Fax machines can confirm that a document was received by another fax machine, but cannot guarantee that the intended person at that organization picked up the document or that no one else read it. They also don’t keep track of which individual sent each fax.

The Solution for Secure Healthcare Faxing and Information Exchange


Fortunately, it is possible to utilize fax communication while also protecting patient privacy and avoiding a HIPAA violation that must be reported, requires you to implement a costly corrective action plan, and could lead to being placed on the CMS compliance watchlist.  Here is how an electronic document management solution can save your facility from the concerns listed above when it comes to secure healthcare faxing and information exchange:

Restricted transmission – Correspondence is limited to only those recipients on your pre-programmed, approved list of destinations; wrong number entries simply don’t happen.

Electronic access – There is no need to worry about physical paperwork disappearing; physician orders and other forms are electronically routed to appropriate departments using paperless workflow for all data. Different authorized departments or users can access the same documents simultaneously, so printing hardcopies is unnecessary.

Encrypted storage – Documents can be indexed for permanent, encrypted storage and future retrieval using the search function; lost orders are eliminated.

Audit trails – HIPAA-compliant audit trails are assigned to each document.

IT systems integration – An electronic document management solution like ActiveXCHANGE can be seamlessly integrated with most existing hospital information systems and technologies, including RightFax.


HIPAA compliance requires healthcare facilities to apply “reasonable safeguards” when communicating about patients’ medical information, which is a bit of a subjective phrase.

Why not eliminate the ambiguity surrounding HIPAA compliance with an electronic document management solution that protects your facility from the above risks and ensures secure healthcare faxing and information exchange?


By Stephanie Salmich

A pharmacist fills prescriptions: Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect public health and patient safety.

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on Patient Safety and Public Health

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Interoperability in Healthcare and Its Effect on Patient Safety and Public Health

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Interoperability in healthcare is becoming increasingly important to the patient experience, public health, and patient safety.  Patients should be able to trust that when they see multiple providers at various doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, labs and imaging facilities, and other locations, their health information is protected, accessible, and actionable.

Yet, research posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found that only 26% of hospitals successfully conduct all 4 core domains (electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using key clinical information) of interoperability in healthcare.

Improving this percentage is absolutely vital to patient safety and public health.  Consider how these two categories of patient safety are affected by inadequate levels of interoperability in healthcare:

Individual Patient Safety


According to the ONC’s study, only 46% of hospitals had required patient information from outside providers or sources available electronically at the point of care and only 18% reported that their providers “often” used electronically received patient health information from outside sources when treating their patients.

Tragically, treating a patient without all necessary medical information can result in adverse drug events due to inaccurate medication reconciliation, preventable pain and suffering, life-threatening medical errors, and even death.

A pharmacist fills prescriptions: Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect public health and patient safety.

Improving interoperability in healthcare can help prevent adverse drug events that affect patient safety.

At the very least, delays in access to relevant health data mean delays in treatment and extra discomfort, pain, or worry for patients and their family members as they wait.

Public Health & Safety


Public health reporting is critical for preventing/containing outbreaks of disease, preparing for health emergencies, investigating population health trends, educating communities, promoting healthy lifestyles, and informing and monitoring health policies.  Public health reporting, to local, state, and federal organizations like the CDC, is also hindered by poor interoperability in healthcare.

The ONC explains in an Issue Brief that for public health reporting:

“The goal is to move to seamless, real-time or near-real-time bidirectional exchange of data . . . This allows for the most complete and up-to-date record possible.” (p. 4)

The accuracy of public health reporting, and the strength of the health policies created from it, can only be as sound as a system’s interoperability capabilities will allow.

Fortunately, there is technology that can greatly improve individual patient safety and public health by creating true interoperability in healthcare and seamlessly integrating with healthcare IT systems.

This is an ethical issue – if we want to protect the public and patient safety, we must make interoperability in healthcare a top priority.


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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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

Social media in healthcare: A person holds a smartphone showing a hospital’s Facebook page.

Social Media in Healthcare: WHY Your Facility Needs It

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Social Media in Healthcare:

WHY Your Facility Needs It

Posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2017

If your organization is not already on board with using social media in healthcare, you can’t afford to wait any longer.  Here are three reasons your healthcare facility needs a social media presence:

1. Patients are Online


Your patients are using the Internet and social media to find and share health information. This includes patients of all ages, from Millennials to Baby Boomers.  Social media impacts Millennials’ healthcare decisions, including their choice of provider.  And when it comes to adults above the age of 50, 82% research health and wellness information online.

According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans utilize the Internet, and 79% of those online users and 68% of all adult Americans use Facebook (with 76% of those who do checking in on a daily basis). Improve patient engagement by connecting with your patients using a medium they’re comfortable with and that many use throughout the day.

Social media in healthcare: A person holds a smartphone showing a hospital’s Facebook page.

Use social media to promote your facility.

2. Promote Your Facility


Using social media can be a cost-free way to promote a brand to a large audience; yet, healthcare marketers use social media to distribute content less than other marketers do, and use costly print media more often than other marketers, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

It’s important to be proactive about your organization’s online image because if you don’t control it, others will. Patients are now posting online reviews of providers and healthcare facilities on Yelp and health-specific review sites like Healthgrades and Vitals.  In a 2017 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, 39% of patients reported visiting a website like these at least once.

Many also share their health experiences with their entire online networks in the form of Facebook posts and tweets.

3. Serve the Community


While the Internet provides quick access to health information to more people than ever before, one drawback is that information posted online is not always correct. Your facility can combat all the poor-quality information out there that your patients may be reading by offering them accurate health information they know they can trust.

Social media can be a very effective tool for reaching your patients with important preventive healthcare and healthy living tips, and can assist you in raising their awareness about other relevant health issues or concerns.  HIMSS advocates for the use of social media in healthcare as a way to improve patient engagement, which the organization believes can improve health literacy.

Both the CDC and WHO encourage the use of social media in healthcare as well. As WHO put it (in its Bulletin of the World Health Organization): “one fact sheet or an emergency message about an outbreak can be spread through Twitter faster than any influenza virus.”


Check out this infographic for more statistics on patients’ use of social media for healthcare information, and stay tuned for next week’s blog containing specific tips on HOW to use social media 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

GO GREEN to reduce hospital waste.

Go Green to Reduce Hospital Waste & Lower Hospital Costs (Part 1 of 2)

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Go Green to Reduce Hospital Waste & Lower Hospital Costs (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on Wednesday, August 9, 2017

There is a dire need to reduce hospital waste.  The U.S. healthcare industry is accountable for 8% of our country’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and estimates of its waste production are as high as 5.9 million tons of garbage each year.

Going green is not only good for the environment, but also for your healthcare facility’s bottom line.  Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago project the healthcare industry could save more than $5.4 billion over five years and $15 billion over 10 years by adopting more sustainable practices.

Below is one strategy to consider to help your facility reduce hospital waste and lower hospital costs:


Staff Education

A recent study of surgeries performed at UCSF Medical Center, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, found that a startling number of packaged surgical supplies were opened but ended up unused and then thrown out after surgery.  The researchers calculated that these wasted medical supplies could cost UCSF $2.9 million dollars a year, and that only accounts for the waste from one department.

GO GREEN to reduce hospital waste.

Providing price transparency for your medical staff can reduce hospital waste and lower hospital costs.

You can reduce hospital waste by ensuring your medical staff handle their supplies in the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way possible.

To help doctors better gauge their role in hospital spending, the authors of the UCSF study recommend providing them with feedback on the costs of their procedures compared to the costs of their peers’.  This can also motivate doctors to reach a higher level of performance at a lower cost than a colleague or the potential competition.

Additionally, they suggest assessing surgeons’ lists of requested instruments on their preference cards before their procedures, eliminating nonessential items, and advising which ones should only be opened as needed (rather than at the start of the procedure) so that they can be saved for future use if unopened.

Many physicians are unaware of the cost of their equipment, but once enlightened, they find ways to use less expensive tools to do the same job.  Canadian hospitals are seeing huge savings using this tactic.  According to the National Post, Toronto Western’s neurosurgeons decreased their spending on disposables by 30% and saved $750,000 in the time span of four months.

Providing price transparency for your medical staff can pay major dividends, and their economical approach to medical supply use offers the added benefits of lowering patients’ bills and enabling your facility to treat more patients as well.


In next week’s blog, we will offer two more strategies to help you reduce hospital waste and lower hospital costs.

Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part blog series.


By Stephanie Salmich