A healthcare employee working in a secure remote work environment.

Creating a Secure Remote Work Environment for Healthcare Staff

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Creating a Secure Remote Work Environment for Healthcare Staff

Posted on Friday, May 1, 2020

Ensuring a secure remote work environment is a top concern of healthcare organizations that are looking to move workers off site.

While remote work is increasingly common, organizations within highly regulated industries like healthcare have been slower to offer work from home opportunities. This is understandable, as you may worry about protecting your patients’ PHI and maintaining HIPAA compliance.

However, it is absolutely possible to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff with remote work solutions that address these issues. There are many benefits of allowing healthcare staff to work from home, and the COVID-19 crisis adds one more significant reason to transition some employees to secure remote work.


In order to create a secure remote work environment for your healthcare staff, look for remote work solutions that offer the following:


A healthcare employee working in a secure remote work environment.

HealthWare Systems’ remote work solutions enable healthcare staff to securely work from home.

Controlled Access to PHIlimits users’ access to only the minimum information necessary to perform their job duties.

Full Transparencyprovides management with real-time oversight and review of employees’ work, which highly discourages inappropriate behavior.

Complete Audit Trailsalways know who accessed data, what they did, and when.

Workflow Automationautomating redundant, manual tasks through robotic process automation means fewer employees must handle each information object and data will automatically be routed to its proper destination with little to no human intervention. Plus, it greatly reduces paper usage…

Paper Reductionsolutions that eliminate hard copies remove the need to commit PHI to paper or to store paper forms containing sensitive information, and they make proper disposal of physical documents a non-issue.

Off-Site Exception Handlingremote employees should be able to handle individual exceptions manually with the same level of security, controlled access to PHI, and paperless processes in place.

Encryption of Dataall information must be encrypted at all times.

HealthWare Systems’ remote work solutions cover all the above. By providing each of these features, our solutions create a HIPAA-compliant, secure remote work environment that will enable healthcare staff to work from home.


Additional Guidelines for a Secure Remote Work Environment


In addition to choosing remote work solutions that address the security concerns listed above, it’s crucial that you communicate with remote workers about their responsibilities regarding the protection of PHI.

Many of these guidelines apply to all healthcare staff – whether they work remotely or on site:

  • Adhere to strict password rules.
  • Use multi-factor authentication.
  • Complete periodic cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance training.
  • Only work on approved devices and only access the Internet through approved methods, such as the organization’s virtual private network (VPN).
  • Do not use work devices for personal activity.
  • Do not copy PHI to other devices.
  • Keep software updated.
  • Always lock your screen when not in use.
  • Be aware of common forms of cyber attack and know the warnings signs for email scams, such as phishing emails or suspicious attachments.

Implement a Remote Work Policy and after confirming employees understand what’s expected of them, have them sign an agreement stating they will abide by all rules and regulations in place. Just like you would for on-site employees, remind remote workers of the civil and criminal penalties for negligent or illicit handling of PHI and of their duty to protect it.

For more information on creating a secure remote work environment for healthcare staff, contact us today. Through a consultative phone call review, we can analyze your workflows to help you determine which areas to transition to a secure remote work environment.


By Stephanie Salmich

Business process automation in healthcare.

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

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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

Physicians hold a thumbs up sign for solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.

Streamline Prior Authorizations with a Pre-Arrival Workflow Solution

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Streamline Prior Authorizations with a Pre-Arrival Workflow Solution

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019

The results of a recent survey conducted by the American Medical Association illustrate the importance of solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.


The 2018 AMA Prior Authorization Physician Survey found the following:

  • 91% The percentage of physicians who say the prior authorization process postpones patients’ access to necessary care.
  • 28% The percentage of physicians who say the prior authorization process has resulted in a serious adverse event for their patients (e.g., “death, hospitalization, disability/permanent bodily damage, or other life-threatening event”).
  • 86% The percentage of physicians who describe prior authorization burdens as high or extremely high.
  • Almost 2 Business Days (14.9 hours) The average length of physician/staff time that is devoted to prior authorization requirements per physician per week.
  • 36% The percentage of physicians who have employees who work solely on prior authorization tasks.

Clearly, health systems face many challenges related to preauthorization.  Patient safety is compromised when care is delayed.  Patient and physician satisfaction are at risk as patients endure frustrating waits for treatment and physicians deal with administrative duties that disengage them from their medical work.

And not only can each prior authorization be costly, but excess costs are also incurred in the forms of extra clerical staff and rework when prior authorizations are denied and must be resubmitted.


According to CAQH CORE, 88 percent of prior authorizations are completed either partially or completely manually; and, the majority of preauthorization issues are related to manual processes.

A pre-arrival workflow solution can automate manual processes and streamline prior authorizations.


With a pre-arrival workflow solution that can streamline prior authorizations, you can address the issues mentioned above:
Physicians hold a thumbs up sign for solutions that can streamline prior authorizations.

A pre-arrival workflow solution can streamline prior authorizations and improve staff and physician satisfaction.


Support your physicians by utilizing solutions that make their jobs easier.  Implementing time-savers for physicians can go a long way toward reducing physician burnout, which is often related to stressful and time-consuming administrative workloads.

In addition to increasing physician and employee satisfaction, a pre-arrival workflow solution will improve your revenue cycle and patients’ access to care they need.

Hospitals can no longer afford to delay employing solutions that will streamline prior authorizations and benefit all stakeholders in their organizations.


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