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

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Reducing Physician Burnout to Improve Physician Retention

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

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

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

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

How Can You Help?

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

Show Them You Care

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

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

Doctors give the thumbs up to reducing physician burnout.

Reducing physician burnout will help you increase physician satisfaction.

Help Them Rediscover Their Passion

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

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

Eliminate Financial Stressors

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

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


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


By Stephanie Salmich