Text message and email examples for a patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.

Patient Outreach Amid a Pandemic: Bring Patients Back for Preventive Care

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Patient Outreach Amid a Pandemic:

Bring Patients Back for Preventive Care

Posted on Friday, January 29, 2021

A robust patient outreach strategy may be the answer to healthcare’s latest problem resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic: Patients are missing preventive care visits at alarming rates.

Here are the statistics:

  • According to research released in May of 2020, at that point preventive screenings for cervical, colon, and breast cancer had dropped between 86% and 94% compared to the same time frame in 2017 to 2019.
  • Research reviewed by the CDC concluded 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%).”
  • A study conducted by the University of Oregon found that 28% of families missed a well-child visit since the pandemic started; and 12% of the 7,000+ caregivers surveyed said their child missed a scheduled vaccination.
  • In its analysis of health claims clearinghouse records, HCCI determined that through “September 2020, childhood immunizations declined about 23% for the year compared to 2019.”

There are many short- and long-term consequences of a decline in preventive care.

As the CDC states, avoiding routine care may mean missed “opportunities for management of chronic conditions, receipt of routine vaccinations, or early detection of new conditions, which might worsen outcomes.” Fewer immunizations can lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Children who skip check-ups miss out on social, emotional, and developmental screenings and abuse and neglect surveillance.

Financially, healthcare costs increase for patients, payers, and providers when preventive health services are not adequately utilized, and care gaps adversely affect hospitals’ reimbursement under value-based care models.

Using Patient Outreach to Bring Patients Back


It is essential that healthcare organizations communicate with their patients about the dangers of delaying or avoiding care. Potential messages may include:

  • Awareness campaigns educating patients on the recommendations for preventive care.
  • Statistics on better health outcomes for early detection of common cancers.
  • A list of preventive screenings that are covered by most health plans.
  • Appointment reminders and alerts for missed appointments.
Text message and email examples for a patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.

A patient outreach campaign aimed at increasing mammogram appointments.


Additionally, many COVID-related factors are contributing to patients’ avoidance of preventive care, and each of these could be addressed by a patient outreach program as well.

For example:

Bring patients back for preventive care with a patient outreach strategy.

  • Delays in care could be in response to stay-at-home orders and/or temporary healthcare facility closures. Create a patient outreach plan that notifies patients of your facility’s hours of operation for routine care so that they know you are both open and encouraging regular visits. This will help reduce any uncertainty they have about when to seek care.
  • Patients might be worried about possible exposure to COVID-19 if they visit a healthcare facility. A patient outreach strategy could include information on the measures your organization is taking to reduce this risk, such as your cleaning procedures, face mask requirements, social distancing rules for staff and patients, strict visitor limitations, and moving non-essential staff off site. Reassure patients of your efforts to keep them safe.
  • Patients may be experiencing unemployment, a loss of health insurance, and/or other financial hardship. Many are unaware of financial assistance programs that could help cover the cost of their medical bills or that they may qualify for another health plan. Start a patient outreach campaign that informs them of these options, especially if your health system can help them apply for financial assistance and/or health coverage!

As the pandemic continues to confuse patients about when to seek care and why, it is imperative that you reach out and communicate with them.

Patient Outreach: ActiveXCHANGE by HealthWare Systems


ActiveXCHANGE 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.

Request a live demo of ActiveXCHANGE to learn how we can help you build a patient outreach program to bring patients back to your facility and the critical preventive care they need.


By Stephanie Salmich

Increase patient volume with a patient tracking system.

Increase Patient Volume with a Patient Tracking System

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Increase Patient Volume with a Patient Tracking System

Posted on Monday, October 28, 2019

A patient tracking system offers numerous benefits that can help you increase patient volume, serve more patients, and generate more revenue. HealthWare’s patient tracking system, ActiveTRACK, is proven to do just that.

Increase patient volume with a patient tracking system.

ActiveTRACK can increase patient volume and revenue while improving patient access to care.


Here are just a few ways our patient tracking system can increase patient volume:



Provides Real-Time Data

ActiveTRACK monitors patient arrival, registration, patient wait times, and clinical transitions to detect bottlenecks in real-time. This enables facilities to proactively adjust resources and staffing needs – rather than waiting until an end-of-shift report or patient complaint to react to issues that may be limiting the number of patients who can be seen.

ActiveTRACK also quickly identifies no-shows so that the facility can call these patients as soon as possible to try to get them in the same day or to reschedule.

Improves Patient Throughput

Facilities that are equipped to address bottlenecks in real-time operate more efficiently and greatly improve patient throughput.

In addition to finding bottlenecks, ActiveTRACK improves patient throughput by lowering patient wait times and registration wait times. In fact, it reduced wait times by 75% at an acute care facility in the Chicago Suburbs.

Our patient tracking system also notifies porters, clinicians, and staff regarding patient status and needs and can link the valet service to the discharge process. This ensures patients are not sitting around waiting for their vehicles, but that their vehicles are waiting and ready to go as soon as they are – vastly improving the discharge process and making a bed available for another patient much sooner.

Detects Scheduling Deficiencies

An acute care facility in the Chicago Suburbs used data produced by ActiveTRACK to significantly improve scheduling in the CT Department. ActiveTRACK showed that the average exam without contrast took 7.5 minutes and the average exam with contrast took 20 minutes. Yet, when scheduling these appointments, the facility allotted 15-30 minutes per exam.

Reducing the time allocated to each exam gives the facility the opportunity to schedule and perform 2-4 more exams per day. This equates to an increase of $1.9 to 3.7 million in potential revenue per year.

For more information, you can read the full case study here.


Implementing a patient tracking system can help you increase the number of patients you are able to serve, improving patient access to care and creating more revenue opportunities.

Download our Product Sheet to learn more about how ActiveTRACK can increase patient volume at your facility.


By Stephanie Salmich

Managing the flu season: Sick patients sit in the waiting room.

Managing the Flu Season and High Patient Volume

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Managing the Flu Season and High Patient Volume

Posted on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Managing the flu season has been especially difficult for hospitals this year as health systems around the country are overflowing with record numbers of flu patients, resulting in ambulance diversions and delays, bed shortages, and ERs that are operating beyond capacity.

For example, Saint Agnes Medical Center’s ER in California has been operating at 104% capacity and UCLA Medical Center’s ER, which usually treats around 140 patients/day, recently treated over 200 patients in one day.  In January Illinois had 100 more flu outbreaks than it did last year at the same time.

Here are some suggestions for managing the flu season:


Prevention

The best thing you can do in your work toward managing the flu season is to take preventive measures to reduce the number of patients the flu will bring in in the first place.  Be diligent in your efforts to educate patients about, and encourage them to receive, the flu vaccine.  Many may not realize that it’s not too late to get the flu shot for this flu season.  Provide them with the CDC’s tips for prevention and dispel any of the common flu myths they may believe.

The ModernMedicine Network outlines the importance of considering how you might compete with drug stores and retail clinics to secure your patients’ business for flu shots.  They suggest providing for walk-in vaccinations, setting up after-hours or weekend vaccination clinics, and partnering with nearby businesses to arrange flu shot clinics for their employees (which has the potential to generate new patients), among other ideas.


Preparation

Prepare for managing high patient volume, which you’re likely to see during the flu season.  Adjust your staffing needs and keep in mind that your employees may get sick, too.  A patient tracking system will help you to better allocate staff and resources and will vastly improve efficiency and patient throughput.

Other workflow automation tools will also aid you in managing high patient volume by increasing efficiency and perhaps compensating for an uptick in sick/absent employees.


Containment

Research published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that 4 in 10 healthcare professionals work while experiencing flu-like symptoms, risking the safety of the most vulnerable patients such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases.  Sick employees with a fever and respiratory symptoms should be instructed not to return to work “until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen),” according to the CDC.

Additionally, create a designated space in the waiting room for patients with flu symptoms where they can sit without spreading the flu to other patients.  And make sure plenty of hand sanitizer, tissues, and masks are available to help contain the virus.

Managing the flu season: Sick patients sit in the waiting room.

High patient volume makes containment in the waiting area especially important to managing the flu season.

Managing the flu season is a challenge, but prevention, preparation, and containment will help you to operate efficiently while managing high patient volume and keeping your patients safe.


By Stephanie Salmich

Managing high patient volume is possible with the right healthcare technology solutions.

Managing High Patient Volume in the Month of December

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Managing High Patient Volume in the Month of December

Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2016

“It’s the most wonderful – make that, busiest – time of the year!”

Much like the holiday season, the 4th Quarter (and especially the month of December) can be a stressful time for hospitals.  By this point, many patients have met their deductibles and may have money saved in their FSAs that must be used by the end of the year.  The desire to maximize their healthcare finances, combined with the extra days off from work and school, makes this the opportune time for patients to schedule elective procedures and check off other items on their medical to-do lists.  Plus, the flu season and changing weather typically lead to an influx of sick patients as well.

Although hospitals are aware of these realities, many still feel underprepared when December strikes.  And while an increase in patients might imply an increase in revenue, hospitals still must handle the logistics of managing high patient volume while respecting their capacity limits.  When a hospital is underprepared, an overflow of patients and the disorder that comes with it can be detrimental to the patient experience, lowering patient satisfaction and even posing a risk to patient safety.

Fortunately, you can prepare your facility for the hustle and bustle of 4th Quarter.  Here are some suggestions to help you better manage the excess number of patients your facility is sure to be experiencing right now:

Implement a Patient Tracking System

You can significantly improve patient throughput with a patient tracking system.  Implementing a solution like this can make a huge impact in lowering your patient wait times, improving hospital efficiency and allowing your staff to serve more patients.

Managing high patient volume is more feasible when you have a patient tracking system in place that monitors each patient’s status in real-time and enables management to oversee throughput across multiple areas from a central location.

HealthWare’s patient tracking system can also project the level of staffing a facility may need.  Knowing these metrics can help you prevent the burnout that many doctors feel when overbooked, meaning greater employee satisfaction and less stress-induced turnover.

Managing high patient volume is possible with the right healthcare technology solutions.

Managing high patient volume is possible with the right healthcare technology solutions.

Prevent Errors with Deficiency Management Tools

Sure, more patients might mean more revenue.  But if your registrars are rushing to register patients, failing to collect all required information or recording errors that ultimately lead to reimbursement denials, how much extra revenue are you really taking in?

You can automate this process with patient registration software that monitors each registration for accuracy and enforces specific data and documentation requirements according to government and payer-specific rules.  You can further control deficiencies with a deficiency management solution that flags and routes mistakes to staff for correction before they can snowball into greater issues, rework, or payment delays and denials down the road.

Automate Workflow

In addition to those mentioned above, there are many other healthcare solutions that can help you automate the registration process and assist you in improving hospital efficiency.  For instance, an electronic forms solution can automate the selection and generation of forms for every situation, wherever a patient presents.  Forms automation can pre-populate patient demographic data on every form, so that staff members don’t have to write this information by hand.  And a physician order management system can streamline the collection of documentation electronically, allowing you to immediately review orders for accuracy and easily route documents to their appropriate departments without worrying that lost or incomplete orders will hold up patient throughput.

Many hospitals’ attempts at managing high patient volume involve scheduling extra staff to help meet the demands of this busy time of year.  Yes, you may need to adjust your scheduling during December, but you can cut down on these costs by lessening internal workloads when you automate former manual processes; for example, you can read here how one hospital used the above healthcare solutions to avoid the need to increase FTEs even while growing its surgery department by 20 percent.


The December patient upsurge is an issue your facility can expect to face this time every year.  If you haven’t yet implemented healthcare solutions for managing high patient volume, now is the time to make those changes.  Don’t wait to react until your busy season hits again next year.  Be proactive and get these systems in place as soon as possible so that they can benefit you the whole year through, and you will confidently enter the 4th Quarter in 2017 and every year thereafter.


By Stephanie Salmich