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

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Medical Errors Statistics Reveal the Need to Improve Patient Safety

Posted on Monday, March 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Improve Patient Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

February is National Wise Health Care Consumer Month

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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

A festive turkey shows aspects of technology in healthcare.

#Thankful – Giving Thanks for Technology in Healthcare

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HealthWare Systems Blog

#Thankful – Giving Thanks for Technology in Healthcare

Posted on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This week let’s take a moment to give thanks for technology in healthcare. No matter where we fall below, each of us has something to be grateful for thanks to the benefits of technology.

Physicians – Interoperability in Healthcare

Interoperability in healthcare allows physicians access to all relevant patient data from other providers in a useful format. When a facility has the ability to integrate healthcare data from outside sources, physicians can be confident they have the information they need to treat their patients safely, efficiently, and accurately.

Hospital Employees – Workflow Automation

Technology in healthcare has reduced internal workloads through the automation of manual processes. Not only does it make life easier for staff, but it also increases efficiency.

Healthcare Administrators – Improved Revenue Cycle

Technology can protect against bad debt, reimbursement denials, and costly rework by ensuring patient encounter accuracy and preventing registration and insurance errors. Workflow automation, increased efficiency, and a reduction in paper also contribute to an improved revenue cycle, and all are the result of the use of technology in healthcare.

Patients – Enhanced Patient Experience & Improved Patient Engagement

From lowering wait times, to improving the valet service, to providing texting alerts and notifications, technology has truly created an enhanced patient experience. Health apps, social media, patient portals, digital medicine devices, and telemedicine have all improved patient engagement.

A festive turkey shows aspects of technology in healthcare.

We’re #thankful for technology in healthcare!

Vendors – Patients & Clients Embracing New Technology

Not only do more and more people embrace new technology, many have come to expect it! Openness to learning how to use new technology in healthcare is always helpful towards its successful adoption.


What else are you thankful for?

Give thanks with the hashtag #thankful and share this blog along with the benefits of technology in healthcare that make you thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

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

Improving Patient Engagement Beyond the Healthcare Facility

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HealthWare Systems Blog

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

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

Social Media in Healthcare: WHY Your Facility Needs It

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Social Media in Healthcare:

WHY Your Facility Needs It

Posted on Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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

1. Patients are Online


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

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

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

Use social media to promote your facility.

2. Promote Your Facility


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

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

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

3. Serve the Community


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

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

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


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


By Stephanie Salmich