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

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

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HealthWare Systems Blog

How Does ActiveXCHANGE Help Achieve Healthcare Interoperability?

Posted on Monday, October 12, 2020

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

What Is Healthcare Interoperability?


According to HIMSS:

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

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

Why Is Achieving Interoperability Important?


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

What Are the Challenges to Achieving Interoperability in Healthcare?


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

Achieve healthcare interoperability with ActiveXCHANGE.

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

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

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


ActiveXCHANGE helps facilities achieve healthcare interoperability in the following ways:

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

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare

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HealthWare Systems Blog

5 Myths About Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2020

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

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


Here are 5 common myths about robotic process automation:


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

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

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

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

RPA Myth #2:  Robots Will Replace Human Workers

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

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

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

RPA Myth #3:  Robotic Process Automation Is Expensive

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

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

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

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

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

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

RPA Myth #5:  RPA Is Just a Trend

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

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

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

Applying Robotic Process Automation at Your Facility


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

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

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

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HealthWare Systems Blog

What is Robotic Process Automation?

(And How Can Healthcare Facilities Use RPA?)

Posted on Monday, July 13, 2020

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

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

Benefits of Robotic Process Automation


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

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

Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare


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

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?

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

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

Is “RPA” in Your Site’s DNA?


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

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

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


By Stephanie Salmich

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

A doctor shows a patient a healthcare form on a tablet and the blog title appears: Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

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HealthWare Systems Blog

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2018


A doctor shows a patient a healthcare form on a tablet and the blog title appears: Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Electronic Healthcare Forms

The benefits of electronic healthcare forms include reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation; both can significantly lower hospital costs.


There are numerous benefits of electronic healthcare forms that can help lower hospital costs related to the production and inefficiencies of paper forms.  Two of these, reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation, are outlined below:

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Reducing Paper Usage

Electronic healthcare forms greatly reduce the number of pages that need to be printed, which means providers can lower hospital costs related to all aspects of printing:

  • Besides the cost of the paper itself, facilities can save money on toner, ink, and printer maintenance and service fees.  A hospital may not even need as many printers, thanks to the benefits of electronic healthcare forms.
  • Electronic healthcare forms can easily be printed on-demand if a physical copy is necessary, so there is no need to stockpile pre-printed forms that may go unused.
  • Storage space and costs are no longer necessary since pre-printing is avoided.
  • Changes and updates to forms can be made electronically and in real-time, saving providers from the cost and waste of destroying old pre-printed versions that can no longer be used due to new revisions. (Read here how BJC Healthcare, which uses over 3,000 forms, utilized ActiveFORMS to solve this problem.)
  • The cost of blue cards and labels is also eliminated thanks to barcode automation.
  • Electronic healthcare forms enable healthcare facilities to use electronic signature instead of paper consent forms, significantly reducing paper usage.  Patients will also be impressed by, and enjoy the convenience of, an electronic signature option.

Lower Hospital Costs with the Benefits of Workflow Automation

Electronic healthcare forms allow providers to replace time-consuming and costly manual processes with workflow automation:

  • One of the benefits of electronic healthcare forms is that hospitals can automate the selection, generation, and routing of forms.  This ensures the correct, visit-specific documentation is produced every time (saving on costs associated with rework and denials due to missing paperwork/consents) and relieves the registrar from the burden of remembering selection criteria for every form used (saving on training costs and time spent searching for and gathering documents).
  • Standard patient demographic data and barcode identifiers on electronic healthcare forms prevent forms from being confused between different charts and save staff time from needing to label or handwrite the same patient data on every form.
  • Electronic healthcare forms that are barcoded, clean originals streamline the scan/capture process used by electronic document management systems (EDMS).  Separating multi-part forms or dealing with fourth generation copies that are barely legible can become issues of the past.
  • Improving workflow automation increases productivity and saves employees time, creating opportunities to reduce or repurpose FTEs(Read here how Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital grew its surgery department by 20% without an increase in FTEs, thanks to workflow automation and ActiveFORMS.)

The benefits of electronic healthcare forms are many; reducing paper usage and improving workflow automation will not only help providers to lower hospital costs, but also help hospitals to reduce or repurpose FTEs, increase efficiency, increase employee satisfaction and retention, reduce hospital waste, appeal to the healthcare consumer’s attraction to corporate social responsibility, improve accuracy and patient safety, and increase patient satisfaction.


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