A doctor wearing safety goggles and a face mask appears with the blog title: Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2021

Here are some of the patient safety challenges healthcare facilities are facing today, along with solutions for addressing these issues:

Patient Safety Challenge: Patients Delaying or Avoiding Medical Care


A doctor wearing safety goggles and a face mask appears with the blog title: Patient Safety Challenges & Solutions

What are your patient safety challenges? Chances are, one or more of our ActiveWARE products can help.

Patients missed health visits at alarming rates last year.

Research reviewed by the CDC found that by “June 30, 2020, because of concerns about COVID-19, an estimated 41% of U.S. adults had delayed or avoided medical care including urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%).” Consequently, the Becker’s Clinical Leadership & Infection Control editorial team included “missed and delayed diagnoses” and “low vaccination coverage and disease resurgence” on its top ten list of patient safety issues for 2021.

Besides worry about the pandemic keeping patients away, other barriers to healthcare access include a lack of (or inadequate) health coverage.

Solutions: A patient outreach campaign can bring patients back for preventive health services and encourage them not to forgo urgent care when they need it. Patients may be confused about the guidelines for seeking medical care during a pandemic. Receiving clarification directly from your organization will reassure them of the importance of obtaining routine and emergency care for their own health and safety. You can find patient outreach messaging ideas here.

HealthWare SystemsActiveXCHANGE solution can be bundled with our messaging platform to add automated voice message (TTS), text, email, pagers, fax, and traditional mail to create a physician and patient outreach engine for alerts, reminders, requests for information, and post-acute care follow-up.

When it comes to your uninsured and underinsured patient population, you can improve their access to healthcare by finding alternative funding sources for their medical bills. ActiveASSIST is our financial assistance screening solution that identifies which charitable programs patients may qualify for and manages the application process for them. This patient advocacy tool helps remove financial obstacles to healthcare access.

Patient Safety Challenge: Potential Exposure to COVID-19


While it may not be in a patient’s best interest to evade medical care altogether due to COVID-19 fears, there is still a risk of exposure to the virus when visiting a health facility.

Solution: Most health systems are now enforcing visitor restrictions to limit the number of people on site at their facilities. But have you considered reducing the number of employees on site as well?

Healthcare organizations have historically been hesitant to offer remote work opportunities due to concerns over uncontrolled access to PHI. However, you can enable healthcare staff to work from home in a HIPAA-compliant, secure remote work environment. Our off-site print management workflow solutions provide:

  • Controlled access to PHI.
  • Complete audit trails.
  • Elimination of intermediate hard copies/storage of paper forms.
  • Encryption of all information at all times.
  • Full transparency and productivity monitoring for management.

With fewer people on site, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 will be lower for both patients and healthcare employees. Patients will also be more willing to come in for medical care if they know every possible measure has been taken to limit their risk.

Patient Safety Challenge: Data Integrity & Interoperability Issues


Healthcare organizations continue to experience problems electronically exchanging information both externally (between different health systems) and internally (between different units/departments). Individual patient safety, as well as public health, depends on a provider’s access to accurate and complete data for each patient.

Unfortunately, “patient matching in the EHR” and “fragmentation across care settings” were included on the ECRI Institute’s top ten list of patient safety concerns in 2020.

Solutions: Our integration capabilities can introduce universal master patient indexes across disparate systems. This makes it possible to link episodes of care and supporting documentation across fragmented systems. Our electronic forms solution, ActiveFORMS, protects patient safety by enhancing patient data accuracy. ActiveFORMS uses barcode automation to correctly match patients’ medical forms to their accounts and auto-populates patient data on forms to prevent human error from manual entry or illegibility issues from handwritten forms. It also improves clarity by converting raw data into easy-to-read reports and transforming legacy reports into user-friendly documents.

With ActiveFORMS, healthcare facilities can easily pass Joint Commission audits.

In addition, our ActiveXCHANGE platform helps achieve healthcare interoperability in many ways, including by:

  • Providing a bi-directional gateway for consolidating information from any source (e.g. multiple scheduling systems, custom interfaces, HL7, FHIR, XML, web-based requisition systems, EHRs/EMRs, faxes, direct messaging, e-mail, hard copies, scanned documents/images, and verbal appointments).
  • Routing information through business rules and account matching to the appropriate destination (e.g. EMR, physician portals, document management systems, other third-party applications) in virtually any format.

HealthWare Systems specializes in integrating proprietary and third-party patient access technologies and connecting disparate health IT systems and EMRs/EHRs.

Patient Safety Challenge: Clinician Burnout


Physician burnout is tied to more medical errors, lower quality of care, and reduced patient compliance. Not only does it affect patient safety, but provider safety and health as well. This problem was on the rise before the pandemic and has understandably increased since it began.

Clinician burnout also appears on the Becker’s patient safety issues list for 2021.

Solutions: Major causes of clinician burnout include too much paperwork, administrative burdens, spending excessive time on EHR tasks, and working long hours.

Many EMR frustrations and administrative burdens can be traced back to interoperability issues (e.g. sifting through an overwhelming abundance of low-quality data to find relevant information, spending more time with the computer than with the patient).

ActiveXCHANGE increases physician satisfaction by:

  • Improving interoperability.
  • Intelligently managing information objects by using business rules to find and create actionable data, determining what to do with that information, and flagging errors and exceptions (e.g. detecting missing signatures or required forms/documentation) for resolution.
  • Handling incoming physician orders/third party documentation to greatly reduce physician complaints related to lost or incomplete orders.

ActiveXCHANGE also does not require referring physicians to change their behavior or learn new software.

You can further reduce providers’ workloads by outsourcing credentialing, which is another time-consuming and exhausting clerical responsibility for clinicians.


Solve Your Patient Safety Challenges with ActiveWARE by HealthWare Systems

Which patient safety challenges are you facing? Chances are, one or more of our ActiveWARE products can help. Contact us today to learn more, request a live demo, or schedule a free consultation – together, we can improve patient safety and enhance the patient experience at your healthcare facility.


By Stephanie Salmich

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

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

Posted on Monday, October 12, 2020

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

What Is Healthcare Interoperability?


According to HIMSS:

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

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

Why Is Achieving Interoperability Important?


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

What Are the Challenges to Achieving Interoperability in Healthcare?


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

Achieve healthcare interoperability with ActiveXCHANGE.

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

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

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


ActiveXCHANGE helps facilities achieve healthcare interoperability in the following ways:

  • Provides a bi-directional gateway for consolidating information from any source (this includes multiple scheduling systems, custom interfaces, HL7, FHIR, XML, web-based requisition systems, EHRs/EMRs, faxes, direct messaging, e-mail, hard copies, scanned documents/images, and verbal appointments).
  • Interprets all information and makes it actionable, regardless of the structured or unstructured format in which it’s received.
  • Automatically transforms all incoming information into an electronic format.
  • Performs “image cleanup” (e.g. corrects alignment issues, discards blank or irrelevant pages, “de-speckles” to remove unwanted marks) on graphic images and scanned documents and extracts key data from each page.
  • Intelligently manages information objects by using business rules to find and make usable relevant data, determining what to do with that information, and flagging errors and exceptions (for example, detecting missing signatures or required forms/documentation) for resolution.
  • Drives and automates processes and workflows based on business rules and triggered by incoming information objects.
  • Routes information through business rules and account matching to the appropriate destination (e.g. EMR, physician portals, document management systems, other third-party applications) in virtually any format and in a user-friendly form that the destination system can accept.
  • Operates bi-directionally to manage incoming and outgoing communication (e.g. automated voice message (TTS), text, e-mail, pagers, fax, traditional mail) between healthcare facilities, patients, physicians, affiliated organizations, remote workers, payers, and vendors – whether the recipient has an ActiveXCHANGE server or not.
  • Ensures the secure, HIPAA-compliant exchange of information.
  • Supports custom workflows and can be configured to meet the unique needs of each department across a client enterprise.
  • HealthWare Systems specializes in integrating proprietary and third-party patient access technologies and provides the platform for connecting disparate health IT systems and EMRs/EHRs, so there is no need to replace your investment in your current technology.
  • All costs (e.g. software, implementation, training, transaction fees, hardware) for our solutions are included in one monthly subscription payment and there are NO upfront fees, creating a more immediate return on investment for our clients.

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

A robot pushes a ball far ahead of human workers pushing cubes; and the blog title appears: 5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare.

5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2020

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an innovative and effective technology that utilizes software robots (also called “bots”) to automate redundant, human-based processes.

Unfortunately, there are many myths about robotic process automation in healthcare. Below we dispel some of the more prevalent misconceptions that may be keeping your organization from implementing RPA and attaining its many benefits.


Here are 5 common myths about robotic process automation:


RPA Myth #1:  RPA Involves Physical, “Human-Like” Robots

A robot pushes a ball far ahead of human workers pushing cubes; and the blog title appears: 5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare.

Don’t let misconceptions about robotic process automation in healthcare cause you to miss out on this valuable technology.

The software robots, or “bots,” employed in robotic process automation are figurative. RPA does not make use of tangible robotics. It is computer software that observes the activities performed by a human user and is programmed to replicate those actions (more efficiently and accurately than a human could). You can think of each metaphorical robot as an individual user with its own (virtual) workstation.

RPA Myth #2:  Robots Will Replace Human Workers

One of the biggest myths about robotic process automation is that robots will steal jobs away from human beings. In reality, software bots make humans’ jobs easier and RPA even has the potential to create new (and better!) job opportunities for human employees.

Bots don’t necessarily take over entire positions; they take on the repetitive, monotonous tasks that humans usually dislike doing anyway (or that have already been outsourced). This saves valuable time that human workers can instead devote to more fulfilling, higher-level objectives. In the case of healthcare employees, RPA enables staff to focus on patient interactions and delivering quality care.

Because it largely eliminates dull, manual responsibilities in favor of the rewarding aspects of the profession, robotic process automation in healthcare can significantly increase job satisfaction.

RPA Myth #3:  Robotic Process Automation Is Expensive

Actually, robotic process automation saves organizations money in many measurable ways:

  • RPA decreases operational costs as software robots don’t require hiring, training, office space, or a paycheck.
  • RPA increases efficiency and speeds up workflow because bots can work faster than humans and don’t need breaks or vacation time off.
  • RPA prevents errors, deficiencies, and security/compliance threats by limiting the opportunity for human error.
  • RPA is easy to deploy since bots interact directly with other software applications and websites through the existing user interface provided.

In delivering a better performance at a lower cost, robotic process automation offers a high return on investment.

RPA Myth #4:  RPA Is Useful for Some Industries, But Not for Healthcare

There is increasing demand for automation in healthcare. RPA meets this need by streamlining organizational workflows and alleviating administrative burdens across a healthcare facility’s entire operation.

Sample use cases of robotic process automation in healthcare include:
  • High-volume data entry
  • Order transcription
  • Credentialing
  • Benefits verification
  • Prior authorization
  • Interactions with payer websites and clearinghouses
  • Claims
  • Appeals
  • Cash posting
  • Progress note reporting
  • Vendor integration
  • Interoperability challenges
  • And many more

RPA Myth #5:  RPA Is Just a Trend

Robotic process automation is not just a trend; it’s the future for most industries and especially for healthcare. Research posted by Gartner in May of 2020 found that 50% of healthcare providers in the U.S. will invest in RPA in the next three years (a major jump from 5% today).

According to their study, the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to RPA adoption as healthcare organizations now have further need to maximize resources and reduce costs. Out of 161 finance executives Gartner surveyed, almost 25% said they expect they’ll be spending more on RPA during the coronavirus pandemic.

Furthermore, their research showed that 20% of all patient interactions will entail some type of AI enablement (within clinical or non-clinical processes) by 2023, which is an increase from the fewer than 4% that do so today.

Applying Robotic Process Automation at Your Facility


Now that we’ve cleared up some of the confusion regarding robotic process automation in healthcare, the next step is determining how your facility can make the most of this valuable technology.

HealthWare Systems analyzes healthcare organizations’ processes and users’ activities to identify and automate redundant tasks and helps them apply RPA to their workflows. Contact us to schedule a consultation or for more information about robotic process automation.

And don’t forget to download our free guide: 5 Steps to Getting Started with Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare.


By Stephanie Salmich

Robotic process automation in healthcare: A robot’s hand holds a hospital.

What is Robotic Process Automation? (And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use RPA?)

| One Comment

HealthWare Systems Blog

What is Robotic Process Automation?

(And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use RPA?)

Posted on Monday, July 13, 2020

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software robots, also known as “bots,” to automate repetitive, human-based processes.

Robotic process automation is a means of achieving business process automation (BPA), which is the digital transformation, streamlining, and proactive management of organizational workflows.

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation


RPA is easy to implement because software robots interact directly with other software applications and websites using the existing user interface provided. The robot will log in to the application, navigate the user interface, populate fields, respond to prompts, capture results, and perform the same operations a human user would. Through assigned business rules, software robots can adapt to special use cases and outliers to handle virtually any scenario or work process.

Software robots take on the redundant, manual tasks usually completed by human users, which:
  • Enables staff to focus on higher-level objectives and interactions with patients.
  • Helps facilities better allocate resources and repurpose FTEs.
  • Lowers operational costs; using software robots is more affordable than hiring, training, housing, and paying humans to do repetitive, manual tasks.
  • Increases efficiency; bots work 24/7, don’t require time off, and can execute tasks more quickly than humans.
  • Improves accuracy; the opportunity for human error is significantly reduced.
  • Enhances data analytics; analyzing bots’ actions over humans’ is not only more precise, but robots can also be used to automate data aggregation and analysis.
  • Facilitates HIPAA compliance; all bot activity is tracked and documented.
  • Strengthens security; RPA follows all protocols/permissions for a normal user and meets the facility’s data integrity rules/conditions, plus removes risks tied to updates from external sources (e.g. vendors, business partners).
  • Requires minimal IT support and participation.

Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare


Robotic process automation in healthcare: A robot’s hand holds a hospital.

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?

Bots can be deployed fully automated in an unattended configuration or utilized interactively. An interactive version may allow some human responses while automating other redundant activities.

Here are just a few areas where you can use robotic process automation in healthcare:
  • Order transcription
  • High-volume data entry
  • Cash posting
  • Credentialing
  • Benefits verification
  • Prior authorization
  • Interactions with payer websites and clearinghouses
  • Claims and appeals
  • Progress note reporting
  • Vendor integration
  • Interoperability challenges

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?


RPA delivers a substantial return on investment and is essential to the future of healthcare organizations and the ways in which they operate.

HealthWare Systems can evaluate your workflows and user activities to identify and automate redundant actions. Contact us today to learn how we can help you apply RPA to your processes and experience the benefits at your healthcare facility.

Download our Robotic Process Automation Product Sheet and our Guide to Getting Started with Robotic Process Automation.


By Stephanie Salmich

Business process automation in healthcare.

What is Business Process Automation? (And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use BPA?)

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

What is Business Process Automation?

(And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use BPA?)

Posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Business process automation (BPA) is the digital transformation of organizational workflows. BPA utilizes technology to automate manual, repetitive, routine tasks and to streamline processes. BPA applies business logic to respond to events, make information “actionable,” and anticipate next steps to proactively manage workflow.

Benefits of Business Process Automation

Business process automation enables organizations to assign their valuable time and employees’ skill sets to other objectives while technology takes care of the monotonous, time-consuming, and routine operations for them.

In addition to time, BPA saves organizations money. It is a cost-effective way to increase efficiency and speed up workflow. Plus, digital transformation of business procedures reduces paper usage (making processes more budget and environmentally friendly).

By limiting the opportunity for human error, BPA also improves accuracy and prevents deficiencies.

Business Process Automation in Healthcare

HealthWare SystemsFacilitator is a business process automation platform created specifically for healthcare.

Facilitator can apply BPA to the following areas that affect the healthcare revenue cycle:

Business process automation in healthcare.

Facilitator is a BPA platform built specifically for healthcare.

Pre-Arrival – prevents integrity issues that can result in technical denials or underpayments.

Prior Authorization – automates authorization requests using 278 transactions, web-crawling, fax requests, and payer portals; automatically checks status of pending authorizations; monitors status changes that affect patients’ authorized benefits.

Insurance Verification – verifies insurance in real time; identifies potential restrictions that may impact reimbursement; finds any unreported coverage by searching top regional payers.

Medical Necessity Checking – verifies medical necessity in real time; shares results with referring physician; produces ABN for patient signature; provides automated updates of LCD and NCD rules.

Financial Assistance Screening – determines the likelihood that patients will qualify for financial assistance; manages documentation requirements and selects/completes application forms based on eligibility program(s) pursued.

Appeals Management – routes denial work object to appropriate team member for resolution; generates appeal letter or form specific to payer or denial type; assembles appeals package and submits appeal; eliminates hard copies.

Release of Information – securely captures, gathers, and sends medical records; eliminates hard copies.

Electronic Medical Forms – business rules determine the correct forms needed for every patient’s specific encounter, so employees no longer need to memorize selection criteria; pre-populates forms with patient demographics.

Order/Referral Management – fast-tracks pre-registration by ensuring accurate and complete physician orders are received.

Automated Messaging – reminds patients of upcoming appointments.

And More


Is “BPA” in Your Site’s DNA? 

Business process automation is increasingly necessary for the success of today’s organizations, including those in the healthcare field. Through BPA, hospitals and health systems can streamline workflow while lowering costs, better allocating resources, and increasing accuracy.

Request a live demo to learn more about how you can transform workflow at your healthcare facility using business process automation.


By Stephanie Salmich

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

Appealing to Millennial Patients

| No Comments

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

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

| No Comments

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 nurse speaks with an elderly patient: Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

8 Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

8 Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates

Posted on Wednesday, May 2, 2018

There are many ways facilities can reduce hospital readmission rates while producing better health outcomes for patients and avoiding CMS reimbursement reductions.  As the study “Reducing Hospital Readmission: Current Strategies and Future Directions,” published in the Annual Review of Medicine, aptly recommends, these strategies to reduce hospital readmission rates are best used in conjunction:

“The effect of interventions on readmission rates is related to the number of components implemented, whereas single-component interventions are unlikely to reduce readmissions significantly.”

Here are 8 ways to reduce hospital readmission rates at your facility:


A nurse speaks with an elderly patient: Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

Directing assistance toward at-risk patients can reduce hospital readmission rates.

1. – Focus on delivering quality care.  Ensure that avoidable readmissions are not due to preventable errors on the part of your facility.

2. – Determine the cause of readmission.  As RevCycleIntelligence states, “Understanding why a patient returns to the hospital after discharge is key to preventing readmissions and solving challenges of follow-up care.”  Is the reason for readmission condition-related or are other factors at play (see #3)?  Was the hospital readmission unnecessary and/or preventable?

3. – Screen for at-risk patients.  Certain conditions, such as heart failure and pneumonia, have higher hospital readmission ratesSocial factors that can affect hospital readmission include housing instability, tobacco use, alcohol/drug abuse, malnutrition and access to nutritious food, access to reliable transportation, health literacy, social support, language barriers, and psychiatric disease.  Assistance may be best directed toward patients most vulnerable to readmission.

4. – Address no-show appointment issues to encourage at-risk patients to keep the follow-up appointments that may lower their chances of hospital readmission.

5. – Improve the discharge process.  Patients and their caregivers face much uncertainty upon leaving the safety net of the hospital environment.  Take the time to thoroughly explain instructions for at-home care before they are discharged; follow-up with phone calls or home visits to again confirm their understanding and give them an opportunity to ask questions.

6. – Take advantage of telehealth opportunities.  Telehealth devices enable clinicians to monitor discharged patients’ health at home and can help reduce patients’ uncertainty about whether or not they need to revisit the hospital.

7. – Improve the transition process between facilities.  Just as when a patient is moved from the hospital to home, moving from one facility to another can result in poor health outcomes and/or readmission if the transition does not go well.  Follow one of the transitions of care models, many of which employ a care team to coordinate effective transitions and have been proven to reduce hospital readmission rates.

8. – Establish true interoperability.  Better communication (in the form of successfully and consistently electronically sending, receiving, finding, and integrating/using data) is needed between facilities for proper care transition (and even across departments within the same facility).  Without it we risk patient safety and increase the likelihood for medical errors that affect readmission rates, such as adverse drug events due to inaccurate medication reconciliation.

Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates with a Multi-Strategy Approach


Again, the most successful efforts to reduce hospital readmission rates and create better health outcomes will utilize numerous strategies.  As the study “Reducing Hospital Readmission” in the Annual Review of Medicine concluded:

“Effective interventions share certain features: having multiple components that span both inpatient and outpatient settings and delivery by dedicated transitional care personnel. New evidence suggests that the number of components in a care transitions intervention is significantly related to its effectiveness . . . which strengthens the argument for more robust interventions.”


By Stephanie Salmich

Support Your Physicians: An administrator and doctor shake hands.

Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

| No Comments

HealthWare Systems Blog

Support Your Physicians by Asking These 3 Questions

Posted on Friday, March 30, 2018

National Doctors’ Day (March 30th) provides a great opportunity to reevaluate the steps your facility is taking to support your physicians who work so hard for you and your patients.

Support Your Physicians: An administrator and doctor shake hands.

Happy National Doctors’ Day!

Here are a few questions to consider when assessing how well you support your physicians:

 

Are You Fueling Your Physicians’ Sense of Purpose?

One of the best ways you can support your physicians is by encouraging their passion, whether it be for medicine, for helping patients and their families, for serving the community, or any other meaningful reason they have for doing the work they do.

Fostering a sense of meaning in work can improve employee engagement, reduce physician burnout, and lower employee turnover.  According to Forbes contributor David K. Williams, the secret to helping employees find meaning in work is communication:

“If leaders focus on communicating the company’s mission, and the employee’s place in the success of that mission, they can have a significant impact on the overall level of fulfillment of their employees.”

He suggests that leaders “frequently discuss the meaning of the organization” and recognize employees for their personal contribution to that meaning.

 

Are You Making Your Physicians’ Jobs Easier or More Difficult?

Physicians are extremely busy.  Is the technology you provide them helping or hindering their time management?

Time-consuming and cumbersome administrative tasks and paperwork can overwhelm physicians and distract them from the reason they became doctors in the first place:  to help patients.

Alleviate physician stress by implementing solutions that:

1. Eliminate lost physician orders

2. Facilitate the sending, receiving, finding, and integrating of critical data to achieve interoperability

3. Prevent reimbursement issues

4. Provide real-time communication across departments

Are You Investing in Your Physicians?

Do you provide opportunities for your valuable physicians to learn and grow in the vital roles they fill for your organization?  Millennial healthcare employees may especially appreciate opportunities for growth and development, continued training, and education at work.  You can also support your physicians by offering or funding mindfulness training, empathy training, and emotional support programs to help prevent or reduce physician burnout.

Again, National Doctors’ Day is TODAY (March 30th)!  Now is the perfect time to rejuvenate your commitment to support your physicians with these suggestions.  And remember to celebrate the physicians who have made a difference for you and your family by personally thanking them and honoring them each March 30th for the hard work they do all year long.


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 healthcare employee helps a patient during National Wise Health Care Consumer Month.

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

| No Comments

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