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

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

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Preparing for a Doctor’s Appointment:

6 Tips for Your Patients

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Stephanie Salmich

Reducing patient uncertainty: Healthcare providers connect puzzle pieces.

Reducing Patient Uncertainty: 6 Areas to Address

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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


Address Patient Transportation Needs to Create Better Health Outcomes

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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:


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

Touchscreen kiosks are a great wayfinding solution.

Improve Hospital Navigation and the Patient Experience with a Wayfinding Solution

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Improve Hospital Navigation and the Patient Experience with a Wayfinding Solution

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

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

1. Mobile Apps

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

Touchscreen kiosks are a great wayfinding solution.

Wayfinding solution: ActiveTRACK Touchscreen Kiosk

2. Touchscreen Kiosks

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

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

3. Digital Signage

A patient notification board is a great wayfinding solution.

Wayfinding solution: ActiveTRACK Patient Notification Board


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

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


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

By Samantha Willis

A calendar showing a month-by-month guide to health observances.

Health Observances: 12 Months of Patient Engagement & Patient Education

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Health Observances: 12 Months of Patient Engagement & Patient Education

Posted on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Health observances create ample opportunities for your facility to reach patients, stay relevant, and both improve patient engagement and improve patient education.  Here is a month-by-month list of ideas to help get you started:

A calendar showing a month-by-month guide to health observances.

Prepare for the year with this month-by-month guide to health observances.


Health Observances Throughout the Year

JANUARY is  National Blood Donor Month.  There are fewer blood donors during the winter months due to inclement weather, illness, and the busy holiday season.  To help prevent blood shortages and include your patients in the cause, hold a blood drive at your facility.

FEBRUARY is  National Children’s Dental Health Month.  Collaborate with a local dentist to create a presentation on the impact oral health has on overall well-being and invite your patients to attend.  Attending educational events can greatly improve patient engagement.  You can also download posters and fun dental health-related activity sheets for kids on the American Dental Association’s website.

MARCH is  National Nutrition Month.  Offer healthy cooking classes as a fun way to improve patient education about nutrition.

APRIL is  National Humor Month Improve patient education about the importance of humor for health and well-being with the Decorate-A-Smiley Project.  Children (and adults) can decorate smiley faces in the waiting room and you can display them for all patients to see.  Be sure to also post information about the benefits of humor (this poster can be downloaded for free).  You can provide funny books for kids to read as they wait as well!

MAY marks the start of  National Run a Mile Days, which lasts through June 14th.  Consider partnering with a nearby elementary or middle school and helping them host a Run A Mile Days event!  Promote your facility and the idea that running is a fun way for kids and adults to stay healthy.

JUNE is  Men’s Health Month.  Men are less likely than women to see a doctor, whether for a health concern or standard annual exam.  Improve patient engagement for the men in your community by hosting a health awareness event, health screening, or health fair.

JULY is  UV Safety Month.  Post warnings about the harmful effects of the sun to the eyes and guidelines for proper eye protection from UV rays around your facility and in your newsletter.  Hand out sunglasses stickers to kids with a note attached that explains what factors to look for when purchasing sunglasses.

AUGUST is  National Immunization Awareness Month.  Schedule a webinar to improve patient education about vaccine recommendations for each stage of life.

SEPTEMBER is  Baby Safety Month, September 23rd-29th is  Child Passenger Safety Week, and September 29th is  National Seat Check Saturday.  Give parents and caregivers the chance to have their car seats checked for proper installation by a certified child passenger safety technician at your facility.  Offer free demonstrations on how to buckle children of all ages into car seats.

OCTOBER is  National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Send out reminders, via text, phone call, email, or postcard, to all female patients who may need to schedule a mammogram.

NOVEMBER 15th is the  Great American Smokeout.  Organize an event where patients can make a public commitment to quit smoking with the support of their family and friends, the American Cancer Society, and your facility.

DECEMBER is  Safe Toys and Gifts Month.  Why not conduct a toy drive for Toys for Tots?  Invite both employees and patients to participate and provide them with guidelines for which toys are considered acceptable donations according to safety standards.  This is a great charitable opportunity for your facility; plus, you’ll improve patient engagement by educating them about safe toys and giving them the chance to contribute a donation as well.

In addition to the ideas listed above, be sure to utilize the power of social media to spread awareness of these important health topics and to help your facility stay relevant.  Many of the organizations that sponsor these health observances even provide materials on their websites that you can share from your own social media accounts.  Most of the 2018 health observances also have their own hashtags.

Check out even more 2018 health observances here.  Perhaps there are others that your facility can use to improve patient engagement and improve patient education.

By Stephanie Salmich

A clock and stethoscope representing the blog, 3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians.

3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians

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3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The following time-savers for physicians can help busy doctors who don’t always have as much time to meet with each patient as they’d like.

Provide your doctors with these three simple time-savers for physicians to help them more efficiently use the time they do have, generate better health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce physician burnout.

A clock and stethoscope representing the blog, 3 Simple Time-Savers for Physicians.

Share these 3 simple time-savers for physicians with your doctors.

1. Set an Agenda with Your Patient

Begin the appointment by agreeing on your expectations and priority items for the visit. Determine what your patient’s primary concerns are and list your own, then make sure you cover these first; then if there’s time you can focus on any others.

You will increase patient satisfaction if you ensure their most pressing concerns are addressed, even if that means scheduling another appointment for the lesser concerns that you didn’t get to in one meeting.  The Language of Caring for Physicians® can guide you through how to “establish the concept of time limits upfront.”

2. Practice Physician Empathy

Another way to make certain you address your patients’ most important concerns is through empathic behaviors, such as refraining from interrupting when patients explain what’s bothering them and consistently asking “what else?” to prompt patients to divulge more.

Physician empathy produces better health outcomes, can increase patient satisfaction with their provider, and will save you time by getting straight to the critical details that may not otherwise be revealed until the “Doorknob Moment,” when you’re about to leave but the patient says, “oh, one more thing…”

Physician empathy is a learned skill that you can hone through physician empathy training programs.

3. Write Legibly & Proofread

Although it may seem like it saves time to scribble out a prescription as quickly as possible or speed-type instructions into a patient’s record and skip reading them over, these behaviors actually slow doctors down in the long run (and lead to patient safety errors).

Write carefully and legibly and proofread your typed notes.  This will help you avoid the time-consuming rework that consists of answering phone calls and messages from other providers or pharmacists looking for clarification on any confusing or incorrectly recorded information.  Better health outcomes are also much more likely when mistakes and miscommunication are prevented.  

Time-Savers for Physicians: The Benefits

Each of these tips will benefit your doctors and patients.  Setting an agenda will result in more productive visits; physician empathy will improve patient-physician relationships; double-checking their own notes will decrease frustration for your doctors later.

These simple time-savers for physicians will not only increase patient satisfaction and generate better health outcomes, but also help in reducing physician burnout because your doctors (and their time) will no longer be spread so thin.

By Stephanie Salmich

A sign at a hospital’s entrance reads “ActiveTRACK VALET FEATURE” … ensuring patients’ cars are waiting for them as soon as they are ready to leave goes a long way toward improving the discharge process.

A Patient’s Last Impression: Improving the Discharge Process

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A Patient’s Last Impression:

Improving the Discharge Process

Posted on Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Improving the discharge process is vital to making a strong last impression on your patients, their family members, and caregivers. This final aspect of their visit greatly informs their opinion of their entire patient experience.

Consider improving the discharge process in the following areas, in order to increase patient satisfaction and improve the patient experience.

The Discharge Meeting

Don’t negate the positive first impressions you’ve made by overlooking an equally critical part of the patient experience: the discharge meeting. Patients may have received quality care and attention throughout the rest of their stay, but if they feel rushed and made to be less of a priority during their discharge, that’s what they’ll remember about their visit.

Train clinicians to be cognizant of the emotions their patients may be feeling as they prepare to leave the security of the hospital (e.g. nervousness, fear, anxiety, confusion, exhaustion). It’s imperative that clinicians devote enough time to thoroughly explaining instructions and addressing patients’ and caregivers’ concerns during this final meeting, so that patients don’t feel lost or abandoned by the hospital when they leave.

A sign at a hospital’s entrance reads “ActiveTRACK VALET FEATURE” … ensuring patients’ cars are waiting for them as soon as they are ready to leave goes a long way toward improving the discharge process.

Link your facility’s valet service to the discharge process with ActiveTRACK.

Hospital Valet Service

As their hospital stay comes to an end, patients may be anxious to get back home.  Help them to get there sooner by providing a hospital valet service.

But be careful; a substandard hospital valet service that keeps patients waiting is likely to be counterproductive and will leave patients thinking they’d have been better off finding their own car.

So, choose a solution with a hospital valet service component that ensures patients’ cars are waiting for them as soon as they are ready to leave.  Patients will be impressed and reminded of the great care and attention they received throughout their patient experience.


Follow-Up Phone Calls

It is extremely important to make follow-up phone calls to patients and/or their family members and caregivers within a few days after they’ve been discharged.  When patients are discharged, they and their caregivers may be overwhelmed by the information and instructions the doctor provides.  A follow-up call gives them the chance to ask the questions they forgot to ask or that didn’t come to mind at the time.  Plus, these phone calls give your staff the opportunity to confirm that patients understand their instructions and lower the chances of readmission.

Improving the discharge process can go a long way in helping you to increase patient satisfaction scores.  When they receive their patient satisfaction surveys, make certain that patients’ most recent memories of their patient experience, their final moments in the hospital and latest contact with your facility, are positive ones.  These extra steps you can take toward improving the discharge process are sure to leave a lasting impression on patients and their family members.

By Stephanie Salmich

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

First Impressions in Healthcare: 3 Critical Moments to Consider

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First Impressions in Healthcare: 3 Critical Moments to Consider

Posted on Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

Here are three critical moments to consider:

Choosing the Facility – Online Presence

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

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

Setting the Appointment – Over the Phone or Online

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

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

Arriving at the Facility – Be a Hospitable Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Stephanie Salmich

Statistics reveal the need for better interoperability in healthcare.

5 Revealing Statistics Concerning the Need for Better Interoperability in Healthcare

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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

Improving Patient Engagement Beyond the Healthcare Facility: A patient holds a smartphone.

Improving Patient Engagement Beyond the Healthcare Facility

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Improving Patient Engagement Beyond the Healthcare Facility

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Improving patient engagement leads to better health outcomes.  Better health outcomes are generally seen in engaged patients who participate in their own health and healthcare decisions.

Truly successful patient engagement involves more than getting patients to participate during their visits, however.  It requires patients to take an active role in their health in their every day life, after they’ve left the hospital or doctor’s office.

Invest in patient engagement and you will see better health outcomes for your patients and lower costs for your facility.  Improving patient engagement increases healthcare value as well.

To improve patient engagement beyond your healthcare facility, make the following available to your patients (or encourage their use!):

Health Apps

Improving Patient Engagement Beyond the Healthcare Facility: A patient holds a smartphone.

Improving patient engagement with health apps, social media, and learning resources can produce better health outcomes.

There are numerous smart phone health apps out there that can help patients with a variety of health goals, from developing healthy habits to monitoring diabetes.  These health apps can improve patient engagement by checking in with patients throughout the day and reminding them to follow their healthcare plan.  To help patients sift through the overwhelming number of choices and avoid flawed or potentially harmful health apps, provide them with recommendations for doctor-approved app options.

Social Media

Among the many benefits of using social media in healthcare is its capacity to improve patient engagement.  Using social media in healthcare is a great way to connect patients to their health no matter where they are outside your facility!  Use sites like Facebook and Twitter to share preventive health tips and promote interactive health campaigns.

Learning Resources

Patients may be overwhelmed by the idea of learning how to use new technology such as health apps, social media, patient portals, digital medicine devices, and telemedicine.  To ensure this does not discourage them from trying any of the above, consider the solution that Ochsner Health System implemented.  This facility created the “O Bar,” a resource desk staffed by a technology expert who answers patients’ questions, demonstrates health apps, and troubleshoots issues with digital devices.  Patients can “test drive” health technology and confirm they know how to use it before they go home.

Remember that improving patient engagement requires the commitment and collaboration of many parties:  administrators, clinicians, staff, vendors, and the patients themselves.  Of course patients must be willing to participate in their healthcare, but you can help motivate them by making these tools available, raising their awareness about the tools available, and teaching them how to use them.

Improving patient engagement beyond the healthcare facility using health apps, social media in healthcare, and learning resources can help you and your patients see better health outcomes and increase healthcare value.

By Stephanie Salmich