Dynamic Intelligent Routing® Delivers the Right Message to the Right Person at the Right Time—No Matter the Setting

Executive Summary:

  • Getting important information to the right member of the care team in a timely manner is a critical part of patient care
  • PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing® is the industry standard for encompassing workflows, both routing and scheduling—it automatically references any number of variables in real time to accurately direct communications
  • With its guided workflows and comprehensive mapping, Dynamic Intelligent Routing is better equipped to handle the depth and complexity of real-world clinical communication than role-based routing
  • Dynamic Intelligent Routing is also a valuable gatekeeper in the outpatient setting, giving providers the ability to respond to communication from patients in a structured and manageable way
  • Much like a car engine with many interconnected parts that starts up with the simple push of a button, it’s not required for the end user to manage the complexity of Dynamic Intelligent Routing to reap its benefits

PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing® is proprietary message routing technology that factors in different variables to determine who should be sent each message or call at any given time. To illustrate how this works, we’ll walk through some relevant clinical scenarios, starting with a simple example—one that usually doesn’t give clinicians trouble in their current environments—and progressing to a more complex example that often leads to delays and frustration in the real world.

A basic example is a nurse trying to reach the provider on call. The system pulls in data regarding the patient in question, the department, and available schedules to ensure the message is routed to the correct on-call provider. It then references the provider’s preferred contact method to ascertain if the nurse should call or send a text message.

ABOVE: An example of a basic Dynamic Intelligent Routing workflow. Real-life workflows typically involve many more variables.

This simple example shows a bit of Dynamic Intelligent Routing’s capability, but when we look at more complex examples like reaching the right hospitalist, contacting a surgeon in the OR, or sending messages to providers outside the walls of the hospital, the true power of Dynamic Intelligent Routing shines through.

To understand how Dynamic Intelligent Routing accomplishes this, it’s important to understand the value of integrations. For instance, when PerfectServe pulls in patient data from the EHR, it can then see both the patient’s dynamic care team and their room number, which fuels part of the routing. When a critical lab result or sepsis alert comes through, Dynamic Intelligent Routing can reference this data along with the physician schedule and routing rules to determine who the current, covering provider is, which may be necessary if the ordering provider is no longer working. Once these factors are accounted for, the appropriate person receives an instant alert.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing has long been an integral part of PerfectServe’s DNA, and it remains one of the primary features that sets our technology apart from the competition. It is core to PerfectServe’s functionality and essential for efficient communication and collaboration.

So how does Dynamic Intelligent Routing work in practice, and more specifically, how does it differ from simpler role-based routing? This is a common question, and the answer is about addressing the depth and complexity of real-life clinical communication in both the acute and ambulatory settings.

Tackling the Complexity of Care Team Communication in the Hospital

Let’s use routing rules in a hospital as a reference point. What if you want to message the orthopedic surgeon on call? With basic role-based routing, the message is sent to the surgeon’s phone. But what if the surgeon has more nuanced contact preferences depending on the scenario? While in surgery, he or she may want the PA to cover their calls; during clinic hours, this responsibility may switch to the office nurse, and for the rest of the time, the surgeon may want calls routed directly to his or her cell phone. Dynamic Intelligent Routing supports—and even encourages—workflow complexity of this nature and ensures that the person receiving the message is equipped to immediately address the issue at hand.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing can also route based on schedules or user logins. Role-based routing works well when, for example, you’re looking for the hospitalist on call and they’re logged into the system. But what if there are ten hospitalists rounding today and you’re not sure which one is covering your patient? The EHR says it’s Dr. Smith, but it’s now 6 PM and he’s no longer working. Or, what if the wound care nurse is performing a sterile dressing change and can’t reply to messages being sent? What if the surgeon covering consults for the house isn’t responding?

For the first scenario, Dynamic Intelligent Routing is capable of organizing any combination of rules, schedules, message types, points of entry, and other information to appropriately direct a message to the right recipient, even if ten different hospitalists are on call. And, even better, it removes the cognitive burden from the sender—all parameters are already built into the system, so directing the message is as easy as answering a few automated prompts to complete the guided workflow.

For the second scenario, Dynamic Intelligent Routing can use a built-in escalation protocol to automatically route any message to the next available team member after a predetermined amount of time has passed. Once the time threshold is met, the message immediately hits the next person’s inbox.

Workflow rules can be created with role-based routing, but they are typically associated with predefined groups, such as “all surgeons can elect to cover calls for another surgeon.” The goal of Dynamic Intelligent Routing is to build these specific coverage scenarios during implementation. This means the surgeon prepping for a procedure doesn’t have to ask a colleague to cover for them for the next four hours—rather, the surgeon’s PA is the first escalation point for urgent calls, the PA’s colleague is the second escalation point, and all non-urgent communication is held until the surgeon is out of the OR. There is no risk or uncertainty, and time spent trying to determine coverage on the fly is reclaimed because these workflows are established in PerfectServe right from go-live.

Additionally, Dynamic Intelligent Routing isn’t only meant for hospital departments covering unassigned consults. PerfectServe’s implementation methodology includes workflows for all provider groups. This allows clinicians to not only engage providers for new patient consults, but also connect with providers regarding established patients who have a new issue. This comprehensive approach allows all communication workflows to be mapped at both the hospital and practice level. This level of standardization is the foundation for automating critical results.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing also extends beyond the four walls of the hospital, supporting communication across affiliated and employed providers, as well as care settings like dialysis or rehab. The patient’s entire care ecosystem is accessible on the platform, meaning effective communication and care coordination doesn’t stop where the hospital walls end.

A Helpful Gatekeeper for Patient-to-Provider Communication

Healthcare organizations are working diligently to make their patient engagement tactics more closely resemble the modern, efficient, and intuitive experiences that patients have in consumer or retail situations. If you can text your veterinarian to set up an appointment or request a medication refill for your dog, you’re probably going to be disappointed if your doctor’s office doesn’t offer similar functionality.

But according to a recent study, doctors say they’ve been overwhelmed by the volume of digital messages received from patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not good enough just to enable patient-to-provider communication—you have to ensure that patients get timely and helpful responses without unleashing a deluge of messages into providers’ inboxes.

Once again, Dynamic Intelligent Routing is here to help, and we’ll set up another hypothetical scenario to demonstrate. This time, a patient is experiencing stomach pain, but it’s after hours and their primary care provider’s clinic is closed. Because the clinic uses PerfectServe, the patient calls and is met with several prompts from the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) answering service solution. The patient’s answers tell the system if the call is routine or urgent.

Because the patient has a serious clinical issue, they are prompted to leave a voice message for the physician on call. Dynamic Intelligent Routing immediately routes the message by referencing schedules in the system, and the on-call physician then receives a push notification. The message in PerfectServe is easily retrieved by the physician and already includes all necessary patient information.

The physician then sends a text message to the patient and asks if they’d prefer to speak on the phone, via video chat, or in a secure messaging session that allows private information to be exchanged in an encrypted environment. The patient prefers a video visit, so the physician sends a link via text message, and within minutes they’re talking in real time to determine next steps.

In this scenario, Dynamic Intelligent Routing is an important gatekeeper. Because the issue is serious, the patient is immediately connected to help, but the provider has complete control over how and when to engage in live conversation. Additionally, because the system can reference schedules in real time, physicians who aren’t on call will not be disturbed by errant messages. The patient gets the help they need, and the provider receives the message in an organized, controlled manner.

If a patient calls after hours with a routine issue or question—perhaps they want to reschedule an appointment or request a medication refill—Dynamic Intelligent Routing can hold the message (and associated push notification) to be delivered to office staff the following morning when the office opens.

In the near future, PerfectServe will also enable this kind of Dynamic Intelligent Routing-driven workflow with chat bots—both on the provider organization’s website and via SMS text message. The result will be the same, but for patients who prefer visiting a website or sending a text to making a phone call, this will add more paths for structured and efficient communication.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing: Making Complex Workflows Seem Easy

For over 20 years, our mission has been to improve clinical communication by removing the obstacles, delays, and frustrations that patients and care team members face every day. Dynamic Intelligent Routing is core to this mission—it’s the foundation upon which PerfectServe is built. But when you read language like “complex routing algorithms” and “proprietary technology” associated with Dynamic Intelligent Routing, just know that the simple purpose is to make sure that messages, calls, alerts, alarms, and all other forms of communication are directed to an appropriate person who is available to help.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing is capable of ingesting and processing thousands of rules and variables, and the workflow possibilities are endless. At one provider organization, PerfectServe—by way of Dynamic Intelligent Routing—dynamically references 1,819 users, 5,915 schedules, 7,060 notification rules, 3,069 contact rules, and 6,863 routing rules. That may sound like a lot, but it helps to think of it like a car’s engine. Under the hood, there are a variety of intricately connected parts that are overwhelming if taken piece by piece. For the driver, though, a simple push of a button is all that’s required to start the engine.

Making complex workflows seem easy is what PerfectServe does best, and the result for the end user is fast, consistent, and accurate delivery of all communications. It’s all thanks to Dynamic Intelligent Routing.

Physician Engagement: What It Is and Why It’s Important

In healthcare, the impact of workforce engagement has similarities with other industries such as productivity, turnover, and financial performance. However, physician engagement significantly impacts the health, safety, and well-being of the patient experience and outcomes. The good news is clinical communication and collaboration solutions can address those common denominators while improving the quadruple aims of patient outcomes, experience, cost reduction, and clinician satisfaction.

Why is Physician Engagement Important?

Physician engagement is critical for a successful patient care experience. When physicians feel a lack of association, it manifests itself in ways ranging from physician burnout to a poor patient experience.

Engaged physicians are 26% more productive than those less engaged, adding an average of $460,000 in additional patient revenue per year.

Physician employment does not automatically equal engagement. Communication and collaboration skills are a must-have regardless of the number of employed physicians. High levels of physician engagement have been correlated to increased productivity, generate more referrals, expand influence amongst peers and medical staff, and drive organizational strategy and change. When medical practitioners are engaged, patients and the local economy reap the benefits. 

“Patient experience impacts revenues, referrals, adherence, safety, and the credibility of an institution with the community.” – Forbes

What is Physician Engagement?

Engaged physicians take greater care of their patients, reduce medical costs, and are more efficient than their unengaged counterparts. The Health Care Advisory Board states that creating organizational alignment is one of the most challenging initiatives, but the most crucial to success—impacting cost, quality, and experience initiatives.

PHYSICIAN ENGAGEMENT DEFINITION
A strategy that focuses on streamlining communication, building relationships, and aligning physicians with the values, vision and mission of their organization and with other healthcare stakeholders to continuously improve care and the patient experience.

BENEFITS OF PHYSICIAN ENGAGEMENT
  Reduced referral leakage.
  Increased in-network referrals.
  Higher engagement of patient population.
•  Improved patient care delivery.
  Enriched physician development and performance.
  Decreased burnout and turnover rates.

Effective engagement strategies require a multifaceted approach. One that includes retention, clinical and cultural fit, onboarding, benefits, leadership development, formal recognition, and physician burnout.

Measuring Physician Engagement

Surveys

Consistently measure and invite physicians to share their needs and challenges to gauge physician sentiment and identify gaps within care teams and workflows.

Run monthly engagement surveys for insights into how physicians perceive your organization and its services. Using that information, closely examine the factors that contribute positively or negatively to engagement and create a plan to improve physician’s everyday experience.

Scorecards

Help physicians understand what is expected of them in a transparent way while measuring productivity and performance metrics.

“We feel transparency is extremely important in order to change behavior. The scorecard gives a comparison of provider to provider within the same specialty. And then it’s a provider to their individual practice. And then it’s that provider to the network.”

 Travis Turner, Mary Washington Healthcare

Dashboards & Reporting

Employ platforms that enable your organization to visualize sufficient, real-time data. This drives organizational initiatives and empowers physicians to have the autonomy to course-correct quality to improve care delivery.

Develop an in-house practice transformation dashboard to show overall movement of your practice through the phases of your organizational initiatives. Here’s an example of a dashboard used in the special report Practice Transformation Analytics Dashboard for Clinician Engagement, published by Annals of Family Medicine.

physician-engagement-dashboard

Accountability Tools

Implementing a solution that provides your organization and physicians to practice accountability enables both personal, peer-to-peer, and clinical autonomy. Solutions that use read receipts, automatic escalations, and self-managed scheduling can foster opportunities for meaningful dialogue and potentially reduce burnout.

There are hundreds of ways to slice your data. Look back to your guiding questions to determine the most important KPIs for your organization’s unique goals and priorities.

Check out this snippet from our webinar with Mid-Atlantic Nephrology Associates to learn how they utilize our tracking and reporting capabilities for transparency and accountability across their organization.

Mid-Atlantic Nephrology Associates reduced operational costs by over $9k by modernizing practice communication for a network of more than 52 facilities, 50 providers, and 1,700 patients.

Improving Physician Engagement

Provide Pathways to Influence

Create physician-led channels to the executive suite to share their voice in decision-making. This reframes the narrative of physicians from employees to partnerships, creating a forum for open dialogue between executives and physicians.

Invite physicians to join leadership in roundtable discussions. This fosters an environment where physicians know their voice is heard, helps identify leadership opportunities, and shows commitment to invest in formal and informal opportunities to develop physician leaders and influencers.

Launch a ‘North-Star’ Initiative

Workflows and systemic factors are universal and aren’t limited to one group of care providers. By demonstrating the intent of how multiple initiatives interconnect, it streamlines the number of things physicians are asked to do on top of their patient care routines. As an example, Figure 1 shows how the factors and behaviors that build a safer culture, drive positive outcomes.

physician-engagement-strategy-northstar

Note: Figure adapted from Bisbey et al. (2019)

 

Create a Data Strategy

Data should be applied and not simply collected. An effective way to drive physician engagement is to build a comprehensive data strategy that improves transparency and helps physicians understand the objectives their organization is driving.

North Memorial Healthcare adopted an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) with visualization capabilities to enable physicians to get near real-time answers to their clinical quality improvement questions. The physicians could then see how their decisions affected length of stay (LOS) and how specific changes in clinical processes would improve LOS. By accessing the data, it was easier to convince physicians to make the needed changes.

Form Leadership Development Programs

Physician relationships with staff, background, future planning, and training differ among hospital leaders. This creates challenges in how rapidly physicians are able to respond to marketplace and regulatory change. Adopt intentional leadership development programs for physicians who are both formal and informal leaders.

•  Hold annual leadership summits with executives and the c-suite.
•  Establish physician champions to present peer-selected awards.
•  Kick off meetings with peer-recognized moments of excellence.
•  Form topics of interest or medical specialty groups for collaboration.

How Does Technology Improve Physician Engagement?

Physicians are trained to be patient care providers, not data-entry administrators.

Physician engagement in technology is critical for the future of care delivery, and physicians are looking for solutions that streamline clinical practice, allow more face-to-face time with patients and improve outcomes. The secret is to improving physician engagement in technology adoption is by illustrating why the technology is needed. Take time to involve physicians in the selection and implementation process, and provide data to show how it benefits them and the patients.

Achieving more balance in providers day-to-day is possible with the right technology solution. When looking for a clinical communication and collaboration platform, look for solutions that have considered end-users in the build of the user interface and capabilities. Does it have interoperability across technology, and the capabilities to streamline workflows to increase operational efficiency? Look at the processes it takes and how the platform integrates with EHR systems to improve the medical practitioner’s experience.

In a high stress environment, recognizing physician needs can empower them to implement new technologies. As a result, this can improve satisfaction levels, assist in making better care decisions, and support patient engagement and satisfaction levels.

Find out how the right solution can support your physician engagement strategy.

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week One

 

Nurses of Note Yoji Patil

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.

Honoree 1: Yoji Patil, MSN, RN, CNOR of Stamford Health (Stamford, CT)

Yojana Patil—who goes by Yoji—believes that nursing chose her. She accidentally stepped into her career when she took an entrance exam to support a friend who wanted to pursue nursing. Twenty-plus years later, Yoji found herself battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, she helped to launch the ICU Family Liaison Program at Stamford Health to keep ICU and palliative teams in communication with patients and their families while visitation restrictions were in place.

Yoji was nominated by her Stamford Health coworker Michelle Watson, who serves as Nurse Manager for the ICU and IMCU. Michelle wrote that Yoji’s ICU Family Liaison Program initiation felt seamless, and that Yoji deserves full credit for what the program was able to accomplish.

The ICU Family Liaison Program has kept patients and their families connected in a time when communication is more important than ever. Yoji wrote the training and communication guide for the program, which covers four intensive care units for eight hours a day, seven days a week. She individually called and updated families of patients, organized patient care across multiple specialties, and facilitated conference calls—all on top of her regular nursing schedule.

Her nominator Michelle summed up Yoji’s efforts by saying, “I am proud to work with Yoji and to be a witness to such an important initiative that provides much-needed information and comfort to families.”

Yoji’s service to her patients did not stop when she was tired. Throughout the pandemic, she worked weekends and holidays to provide continuous care. On Mother’s Day, she organized a video call with all of her female patients’ children, allowing them to see their mothers even though they couldn’t be together in person.

Throughout the pandemic, Yoji has been a caretaker and advocate for those who lost their lives to COVID-19. She has held the hands of dying patients whose families couldn’t be there to comfort them. On multiple occasions, Yoji obtained permission to allow family members to visit and say goodbye to loved ones when a patient’s outcome looked grim. Yoji was and remains a steady support system to families facing the bereavement process.

Yojana Patil’s service to her patients, her colleagues, and her community is an emphatic demonstration of character, empathy, and commitment to nursing.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Sometimes you choose a profession, but in my case, the profession chose me. I accompanied my friend to the entrance exam for a reputed nursing school in Mumbai. The principal was walking by and asked me, “Instead of waiting outside, why don’t you sit in for the exam?” I did end up taking the test, and now I can’t imagine choosing any other profession.

What’s one piece of advice for nursing students entering the field?

Nursing is a work of heART. Nursing is a way of living for the rest of your life. It’s not just a job—once a nurse, always a nurse.

What would you like to see change for nursing in the future?

I would love to see nursing at the forefront of healthcare. I want to see nurses advocating for patients, especially the population that has no voice.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

I have tremendous support from my family, friends, and coworkers. I use mindfulness in my daily activities, especially on hectic days. Emotional burnout is a real thing. Nurses around the world are feeling helpless and emotionally drained as an effect of this pandemic. Most of us have PTSD from our experiences and the difficult outcomes we’ve witnessed.

Taking care of your physical and mental health is just as important as taking care of your patients. A quick five-minute deep breathing session before walking into unknowns, such as receiving a new patient or beginning a shift, goes a long way.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

I love Zumba. I also went skydiving on my 40th birthday! I have traveled to four continents so far and would love to explore Africa next. To sum it up, I enjoy dancing, traveling, and adventure sports. I’m not the best at sports, but that doesn’t stop me from trying!

If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?

If I had to pick a song, it would be “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson. But this excerpt from a poem—which I wrote with my coworker and fellow nurse, Seema Pillai—really describes me as a nurse:

Today I feel like a soldier, waging a war,
With limited weapons, I return home each day with many a scar.
But I will fight valiantly and will not despair,
‘Cos I go to work each day with weapons invisible—faith, hope, trust, and a prayer.

Nursing is my calling
And when duty calls, I will not fail,
I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I know I’ll live to tell this tale.

Thank you, Yoji!

Your hard work and dedication to exceptional patient care is recognized and appreciated by your colleagues and the team at PerfectServe. We wish you all the best in your continued efforts to make life better for the individuals and families who trust you with their care.

Read the Full Winners List

Clinical Collaboration Systems for Hospitals—Complete Guide

Collaboration SystemsClinical communication and collaboration are critical to a healthcare organization’s delivery of effective patient-centered care. But for healthcare leaders looking to make a tangible impact on key performance metrics, terms like “clinical collaboration” and “care team communication” can feel a bit abstract.

Some may question:

What’s the best way to improve care team communication? Is it as simple as HIPAA-compliant text messaging? Is there more to “clinical collaboration” than juggling workarounds and niche vendors?

Whether you’d like to understand the effect that communication can have on patient care and clinician satisfaction, you’re trying to choose the best clinical communication app, or you just need to know where to focus first, this guide can help.

Index

Impact of Communication in Healthcare | Improving Communication and Patient Safety | Top Digital Solutions | Choosing the Right Solutions | Infographic: 8-Step Overhaul Checklist | Future of Technology in Healthcare

What is the impact of communication in healthcare?

80% of all medical errors involve miscommunication.1

Healthcare communication, sometimes known as clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C), is one of the most essential—and deceptively complex—aspects of patient care. The quality and speed of patient care delivery rely on the care team’s ability to communicate critical information accurately and rapidly.

Yet 14% of messages go to the wrong clinician at the wrong time.2

Poor communication is a key contributor to:

  • Medical Errors
  • Care Delays
  • Declining Patient Satisfaction
  • Increasing Provider Burnout

Patient expectations, which are critical in shaping their experience with healthcare organizations, continue to evolve in the age of value-based care. Mistakes, care delays, confusion, and frustration among care teams impact patient outcomes and are now reflected in HCAHPS scores and CMS reimbursements.

Joining patient satisfaction is the priority of provider satisfaction and its impact on burnout and turnover. Recently, pandemic-related surges in patient demand and declining resource availability have made care coordination more exhausting, making smooth collaboration more essential in combatting burnout.

Improving Clinical Communication and Patient Safety

Hospitals and health systems looking to improve clinical communication and patient safety should start by taking an honest look at the workflows and potential gaps that exist within and across your organization’s various roles and departments.

Where are your opportunities for improvement? Think about answers to the following questions.

Accelerating Speed to Care

  • Does communication at your organization always reach the right provider in a timely manner?
  • Could your teams accelerate speed to care by reducing the number of steps in the existing communication workflows?

Eliminating extra steps reduced UT Medical Center’s time to initiate clinical communication by 76.3%.

Reducing Provider Interruptions

  • Do physicians get nonurgent interruptions during patient encounters, surgery, or other critical moments while administering care?
  • Do your providers have the ability to “unplug” and recharge during their time off to help prevent burnout, or do they get interrupted with misdirected communication?

Burned out physicians are 2x as likely to be involved in patient safety accidents.

Enhancing Patient and Family Communication

  • Do you provide appointment reminders or virtual check-in to support patient safety and satisfaction?
  • Can nurses easily and securely communicate with patients and update their family members?

Texting patients helped Park Nicollet reduce patient readmissions by 32% and cut nurse phone calls by 25%.

If you answered “No” to any of the questions above, you have identified an opportunity for improvement. Fortunately, healthcare technology has come a long way in a short period of time, and it is easier than ever to replace siloed tools and systems with integrated clinical collaboration solutions.

What are the top digital solutions for clinical communication?

The simplest answer is: It depends. There are various clinical collaboration tools that exist to serve specific purposes. Since each health system, hospital, and even department has unique needs, the best choice is to work with a solution that offers broad integration capabilities. Select a vendor that operates as a care delivery partner and has the agility to evolve with your organization’s needs over time.

Identifying the right clinical collaboration system for your organization will require collaboration among your internal leadership if you hope to minimize your vendor footprint, avoid creating more silos, and maximize ROI.

How to Choose the Right Clinical Communication Software

Sometimes for hospitals and health systems, the hardest part about improving clinical communication and patient safety is figuring out where to start. To help, we created a checklist infographic summarizing the eight steps to a strategic clinical communication upgrade outlined by Julie Mills, DNP, MBA, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Sr. Director of Clinical Solutions at PerfectServe.3

8 Steps to a Clinical Communication Upgrade

  1. Create a multidisciplinary decision-making team.
  2. Calculate the financial impact.
  3. Start your list of requirements with HIPAA compliance.
  4. Recodify time-tested policies.
  5. Pilot while priming physician buy-in.
  6. Work through communication workflows.
  7. Choose your hardware.
  8. Create a closed loop for continual improvement.

Want more detailed information about completing each step to shape your clinical communication strategy? Download our clinical communication checklist.

What is the future of technology in healthcare?

Technology will continue to provide new and better ways to support healthcare processes, streamline clinical communication, and enhance patient safety. That’s why it is important to be selective when considering new vendors and systems. The right choices can unify and simplify care team collaboration, but the wrong choices could add silos, waste resources, and impede patient-centered care.

Prioritize integration and look for solutions that unify as many workflows as possible—clinical communication, provider scheduling, patient communication, patient family updates—into one user-friendly platform accessible from anywhere on any device.

Sources

  1. Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Releases Targeted Solutions Tool for Hand-Off Communication, Aug. 2012: jointcommission.org
  2. Paging Dr. Right, ACP Hospitalist, Stacey Butterfield, May 2012: acphospitalist.org/archives/2012/05/success.htm
  3. Checklist for a successful clinical communication overhaul, Nursing Management, Mills, Julie MBA, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Vol. 52, Issue 1, p. 10-13, Jan. 2021: journals.lww.com/nursingmanagement/Fulltext/2021/01000/Checklist_for_a_successful_clinical_communication.4.aspx#

Partnering With Our Customers to Accelerate Speed to Care

Covid Year in Review

The past 12 months have been difficult in more ways than we can count. But, while we lament the struggles and mourn the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the United States, we can also take stock of the victories, accomplishments, innovations, and breakthroughs achieved in the age of COVID-19. We can even appreciate some of the ways healthcare has changed for the better.

To quote our Chief Clinical Officer Kelly Conklin, who spent 20 years as a trauma and ER nurse, “These ‘unprecedented times,’ challenging and sad though they’ve been, are the impetus for a lot of promising change in the world of healthcare, and I’m optimistic that the ‘new normal’ is going to be a friendlier, more convenient, and more modern experience.”

COVID-19 Demanded a Flexible Response

At PerfectServe, our COVID experience has been focused on supporting the hundreds of healthcare organizations that use our technology every day. Infectious disease doesn’t ask permission to spread, so deploying PerfectServe’s technology quickly and effectively has been key to our efforts. We started with an offer of free software and services for customers. As time went on, use cases became more varied.

Initial Wave in March 2020

  • Supported curbside testing coordination.
  • Built a new platform to enable hospitals on lockdown to communicate with patients’ family members from the core PerfectServe system.
  • Facilitated news, announcements, and other mass communication for employee and clinician alignment on treatments, procedures, and protocols. (Core communication traffic increased by 400%.)

Mid-Pandemic

  • Reduced infection risk for clinicians by allowing them to use their mobile devices to round on less acute COVID patients.
  • Enabled quick and app-less telehealth visits as clinics remained closed.
  • Offered a Rapid Surge Scheduling solution to help organizations easily build and update provider schedules as available staff, patient load, and even hospital facilities changed rapidly.

Reopening

  • Enabled a virtual waiting room capability to help clinics adhere to safety protocols as certain facilities reopened

Vaccine Rollout

  • Facilitated the communication of vaccine procedures and distribution of information within clinical care teams.
  • Currently leveraging Lightning Bolt’s Access Optimization capability to build optimized provider schedules based on time taken to vaccinate patients—using average vaccination throughput as a driver for provider schedule creation.

The growing list of new use cases reflects how PerfectServe has embraced the agility required to be an effective technology partner for healthcare organizations. To echo Sachin Jain’s recent column for Forbes, Change does not have to be slow, plodding, and hyper-rational. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare organizations showed remarkable agility because the situation demanded it.”

We know how important communication and coordination are for care delivery, and we’ve delivered solutions that meet the needs of a once-in-a-century moment.

  • Pull together a team to launch a new patient communication platform in a few weeks?
    We can do that.
  • Rethink our implementation protocols to execute a virtual multi-site go-live for a large health system?
    We can do that too.
  • Launch an easy-to-use, fast-to-deploy video visit platform that enables providers to reach more of their patient population while in-person visits are discouraged?
    We’re on it—and we’ll do it quickly.

A couple of customers shared some thoughts about the support PerfectServe provided as their organizations ramped up COVID-19 response efforts:

“When COVID hit, we had to look for alternative virtual solutions in an attempt to connect with all of our patients. PerfectServe was able to quickly help us stand up their video platform to assist in certain situations. They were able to understand and meet our patients’ needs.”

– Andrew Bradford, Director of Virtual Health, St. Elizabeth Physicians

“As far as COVID support from PerfectServe, implementing the Lightning Bolt Rapid Surge Scheduling solution was a very simple process. I was able to add and change assignments as needed, which I have always been able to do, but the most helpful was when we had to add more support personnel on the fly. Having that flexible scheduling capability was critical during such an uncertain time, and the whole PerfectServe team was a huge help.”

– Sandee Leslie, Practice Program Coordinator, St. Luke’s Health System (Nampa and Meridian Medical Centers)

Amplifying Diverse Voices

2020 challenged companies to think differently in many ways. We’ve been reminded time and time again that recognizing and amplifying diverse voices makes a business stronger, wiser, and more inclusive. PerfectServe’s Diversity & Inclusion (DE&I) Advisory Council led the charge to adopt a revamped diversity charter for the company, and a simple but powerful new motto permeates all DE&I efforts:

“Different is Perfect.”

PerfectServe works with hospitals and practices in every corner of the country, and we want our team members to reflect the diversity of thought, background, and experience that we see in our customers—and our customers’ patients—every single day. This work never ends, and our CEO, Guillaume Castel, constantly emphasizes the egalitarian nature of healthcare:

“No matter who you are, where you come from, what you believe, or what you look like, we all need care at some point in our lives.”

– Guillaume Castel, Chief Executive Officer, PerfectServe

Healthcare affects everyone, and that means everyone should have a seat at the table.

To recap, a lot has been learned in the last year:

  • We listened closely to customers so we could address their most pressing needs with our solutions—and we created new solutions along the way.
  • We tweaked, reworked, and updated processes to get work done more efficiently than ever in a virtual environment.
  • We found new ways to reinforce a company culture that starts with inclusivity and committed to growing on that momentum.
  • We saw real life in stark relief as Zoom calls were graced with—not interrupted by—pets, family members, friends, and everything in between.

More than 100 million COVID vaccine doses have now been administered in the United States, and as a glimmer of normalcy looms on the horizon, rest assured that PerfectServe will emerge from the pandemic with clarity of purpose and a steadfast commitment to customers: With our technology and the talented employees who make our company tick, we will continue to accelerate speed to care by making collaboration more intuitive, scheduling more optimized, and communication more effective.

Would you like to learn more about how we can help your organization thrive with better communication, scheduling, and/or collaboration?

How to Manage Complex Radiology Scheduling

Radiology scheduling is highly complex, with teams scheduling providers across numerous specialties and locations. As a result, building the schedule is a task often reserved for physicians or administrators with deep knowledge of how their teams operate. Without leveraging the right tools to build schedules, radiology groups get stuck with a time-consuming, inefficient process.

Why is radiology scheduling so difficult?


Creating shift schedules for radiologists is a major balancing act, with multiple scheduling variables that often compete with one another. Let’s explore just a few of the key issues that make radiology scheduling so complex.

1. Subspecialty coverage for diagnostic imaging exams.

Many diagnostic imaging exams and interventional procedures require specific subspecialty coverage. Radiologists are typically credentialed to work only one particular sub-specialty, with few able to provide cross-coverage. The increasing sub-specialization of radiology, coupled with the growing shortage of radiologists,1 makes this all the more challenging. Ensuring all shift types are covered without overutilizing certain providers is increasingly difficult.

2. Scheduling radiologists and technologists across multiple locations.

Radiologists and radiology technologists typically cover multiple locations, from imaging centers to hospitals, making it difficult to determine who is scheduled, when, and where. Add in the varying shift types at each individual location, and the equation becomes even more challenging.

3. Physician preferences and satisfaction are a top priority.

Radiology is quickly becoming one of the most challenging and expensive specialties for physician recruitment.2 The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortfall of nearly 42,000 radiologists by 2033.1 As a result, it’s incredibly important to create schedules that minimize burnout and keep providers happy.

That means schedulers need to build schedules that factor in individual physician preferences, allow adequate time between long or taxing shifts, and ensure shifts are evenly distributed among providers. However, given the large number of scheduling variables, some radiology groups struggle to make provider satisfaction and well-being a priority when building schedules.

The Solution: An Automated Radiology Scheduler

Despite all the complexities associated with radiology scheduling, there are some radiology groups that still build shift schedules manually—by hand or spreadsheet—instead of using an automated solution.3 Unfortunately, manual scheduling leaves gaps in coverage, contributes to physician burnout, and fails to maximize existing physician resources. In contrast, an optimized radiology scheduling software is extremely efficient and cost-effective.

Interested in learning how optimized scheduling works? Hear from our clients at Eastern Radiologists in Greenville, North Carolina. Learn how their practice transitioned from manually scheduling providers in spreadsheets to auto-generating schedules with our automated scheduling solution.

Watch the Webinar

Sources

  1. Physician Specialty Shortage – Including Radiologists – Continues to Climb, MJH Life Sciences, Whitney J. Palmer, Diagnostic Imaging, 2020: diagnosticimaging.com/view/physician-specialty-shortage-including-radiologists-continues-to-climb
  2. [White Paper] Physician Recruitment: The Cost to Hire and Return on Investment, Jackson Physician Search, 2018: jacksonphysiciansearch.com/physician-recruitment-the-cost-to-hire-and-return-on-investment/
  3. In the Flow: Part 2 — Equitable Scheduling Prevents Burnout, Delivers Better Patient Care, Great Valley Publishing, Beth W. Orenstein, Radiology Today—Vol. 19 (No. 3), Page 24, 2018: radiologytoday.net/archive/rt0318p24.shtml

Radiology Productivity: Beyond the RVU

Radiology Productivity

The workload of US radiologists has increased over the past two decades.1 Unfortunately, the number of new radiologists entering the field hasn’t grown to match demand. The shortage of radiologists and increasing demand for imaging services make measuring radiologist productivity more important than ever. Explore why current productivity standards for radiology departments and groups might be missing the mark and how a digital scheduling solution can double as a radiology productivity software.

Radiology Productivity Metrics: Is the RVU enough?

Many radiology practices and departments measure productivity using Relative Value Units (RVUs), but the RVU system has known limitations.2 Compared to other services, interventional procedures are somewhat undervalued while MRI services are given a higher value.

In addition to the issues inherent in the RVU scale, other factors including scheduling can impact a group’s ability to accurately measure productivity. For example, a physician working during a weekend shift may generate fewer RVUs than generated on a regular day shift. Unless your team equally distributes holidays, weekends, and other shifts, RVUs can’t reliably measure radiologist productivity.

RVUs also fail to provide insight into all the work providers are doing. Time spent on continuing education, professional development, teaching, and research are all valuable to your organization, but are not reflected in RVUs. Radiologists are increasingly required to spend more time on administrative tasks—which means they read fewer films and spend less time on patient care. Long story short: RVU metrics can not tell us how much work physicians are doing.

A Better Way to Track Radiology Productivity Benchmarks

If your organization is manually scheduling providers, you know that human error can impede your ability to see the number and types of shifts your providers are working. With a digital scheduling platform, your organization can automate the scheduling process and gain an accurate picture of your providers’ workloads. Digital scheduling gives you access to a lot of data that can streamline operational efficiency to effectively serve as radiology productivity software for your group.

Auto-Generate Radiology Schedules That Ensure Even Shift Distribution

Creating shift schedules that ensure full sub-specialty coverage, meet patient demand for different diagnostic imaging types, and distribute shifts evenly among providers is complex if tackled manually. But it is the first step to gaining better insight into the productivity of your providers. Without even shift distribution, you can’t be certain the data accurately reflects productivity.

“We can really coordinate what’s happening within our facilities, where our resources are going.”

– Jim Clabo, Director Systems and Scheduling Administration, Northwest Permanente

An advanced rules-based scheduling solution can automatically distribute your shifts evenly. You simply create highly customizable rules designed to schedule providers across subspecialties and locations in a way that is fair and equitable, and then, auto-generate the schedule.

Tag Shifts by Type of Work or Diagnostic Imaging Type

Once you’ve created the schedule, you can tag various shift assignments by type of work. For example, tag shifts for specialty imaging like neurology, breast imaging, pediatrics, and ultrasound. Plus, tag shifts for non-clinical time, including administrative work, continuing education, teaching, and research.

Tagged shifts reflect the type of work providers are doing, so you can generate granular reports about their type of work, when they are scheduled, and where each shift takes place.

Streamline Value Management and Resource Utilization

Your organization can take value management a step further to gain insight into resource utilization. Many clients use our scheduling solution to track exam room and OR utilization. The same can be done for imaging equipment. Assign radiologists and radiology technologists to specific equipment to identify inefficiencies and opportunities to increase revenue.

By scheduling providers with certain equipment and rooms, you can see which equipment may be underutilized and when. Capitalize on those opportunities by scheduling additional providers at specific times. Alternatively, you can see when equipment is in high demand and schedule faster readers during peak times to increase capacity.

Increase Radiology Productivity With a Radiology Scheduling Software

An advanced scheduling solution can help your organization streamline processes and gain better insights into your operations. Save time by streamlining complicated scheduling processes and access advanced workforce analytics that reveal actual value versus perceived value. Maximize productivity and value management with a clear picture of when your resources are and are not being utilized.

Hear from our customers at Northwest Permanente, who currently use Optimized Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt to streamline value management across the organization. The Permanente Medicine team uses our solution to schedule providers directly into exam rooms and operating rooms.

See How It Works

 

Resources:
1. Radiologists’ Variation of Time to Read Across Different Procedure Types, Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine, Daniel Forsberg, Beverly Rospiko, and Jeffrey L. Sunshine, Journal of Digital Imaging– Vol. 30 (1), 86-94, 2017: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10278-016-9911-z
2. Leveraging the electronic health record to evaluate the validity of the current RVU system for radiologists, Elsevier Inc., Ronnie Sebro, Clinical Imaging, 2021: doi.org/10.1016/j.clinimag.2021.02.007

Coordinating COVID-19 Vaccination:
3 Essential Elements

Covid Vaccination Coordination

COVID-19 has transformed healthcare indefinitely and forced agility from care teams at every turn. Vaccination efforts are no exception. Healthcare organizations across America are in the midst of a massive, frazzled effort to coordinate hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccinations.

As demand peaks for information around vaccine eligibility, availability, and distribution, healthcare organizations should be proactively educating patients and providers to help combat misinformation and build confidence in the vaccination process. Effective communication is critical between healthcare organizations, staff, and patients to support compliance with public health guidance.

Unfortunately, some organizations simply haven’t had the resources to plan ahead for the number of logistical variables impacting vaccine communication and coordination. We want to help by summarizing the challenges and solutions of three essential elements of vaccination coordination:

  1. Patient Communication
  2. Provider Communication
  3. Resource Allocation

1. Patient Communication

Challenges: Trust, Compliance, and Safety; Combatting Misinformation

To build trust and increase compliance among patients, organizations must communicate and provide real educational material to counteract misinformation such as social media myths.1 Managing expectations and helping patients assess their relative risks in context are challenges that only get harder as myths and disinformation spread online.

Solution: Rapidly Educate, Remind, Triage, and Follow Up

A 2020 population survey of US adults found that individuals were more likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if they thought their healthcare provider would recommend vaccination.2

Build trust and patient satisfaction by distributing educational material to patients on their most preferred communication device—their cell phone. The right patient engagement solution will offer HIPAA-compliant video, voice, and text messaging that empowers you to:

  • Reach out to patients about vaccine availability and location.
  • Send timely appointment updates and confirmation.
  • Provide guidance on preparation, wayfinding, and check in.
  • Track confirmations, cancellations, and who is running late.
  • Instantly broadcast changes in supply, location, or procedure to the patient population.
  • Create a triage pathway for patients who have questions, complications, or adverse effects from the vaccination.
  • Provide automated reminders to support second dosage compliance. For example:
  • Clients are using PerfectServe’s Patient and Family Communication solution to send patients reminders of their second dose date with simple scheduling instructions.

2. Provider Communication

Challenges: New and Evolving Processes; Accommodating Patient Demand and Follow-Up Needs

Surging patient demand and shifting vaccine supply make it difficult to coordinate staff and ensure the right providers can be reached at the right time. Organizations must keep providers educated, up to date, and prepared to answer patient questions. It is also up to organizations to facilitate rapid follow-up to patient questions and concerns post-vaccination.

Solution: Dynamic Communication, Smart Routing, and Instant Updates in One App

Communication should make it easy for providers to understand the process of the vaccine rollout and answer specific technical questions.3

The same communication solution that addresses your patient needs should also support seamless coordination between clinical and operational staff in an environment of surging demand and dynamic vaccine availability. Look for a solution that lets you:

  • Share educational material with staff via news bulletins.
  • Update care teams about locations, procedures, and supplies.
  • Instantly communicate changes to staffing and site plans across your organization.
  • Facilitate real-time responses from providers to address patient issues associated with vaccine complications. For example:
  • One hospital has implemented an “Adverse Vaccine Reaction Hotline” that care team members can access via PerfectServe web or phone number. Three different providers rotate through the hotline service so the case load is spread evenly.

3. Resource Allocation

Challenges: Balancing Staff Distribution With Changes in Vaccine Demand and Supply

One of the most difficult and important resources to coordinate is your staff. Balancing staff vaccination with provider shift schedules to adequately support patient vaccination will be increasingly challenging. Adjusting provider schedules manually during chaotic surges in supply and demand across locations could become a nightmare.

Solution: Optimized Provider Scheduling With Real-Time Update Distribution

“A world safe from vaccine preventable diseases requires well-functioning human resources within a supportive environment.” – World Health Organization4

Automate the schedule-building process with a solution that can adapt to shifting variables—such as temporary vaccination sites and changes in vaccine supply—and update your staff in real time. An ideal scheduling solution will:

  • Integrate with your communication solution.
  • Provide easy access via smartphone app.
  • Serve as a provider scheduling source of truth that stays up to date in real time.
  • Simplify shift swaps and time-off requests for providers to help reduce burnout
  • Accommodate unique needs with customization for your organization. For example:
  • Optimized Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt is helping organizations meet fluctuating staff needs during COVID-19 surges by automatically generating balanced schedules to include new and redeployed staff across existing and temporary locations.

Streamlining Vaccination Coordination

COVID-19 vaccination presents healthcare organizations with several challenges exacerbated by many shifting variables. Don’t leave your teams fumbling to keep up. Leading organizations are overcoming vaccine-related communication and resource challenges with comprehensive collaboration solutions that solve as many challenges as possible with one streamlined, user-friendly interface.

See how integrated solutions can support your COVID-19 vaccination coordination.

Demo PerfectServe

Resources:
1. Effects of fact-checking social media vaccine misinformation on attitudes toward vaccines, J. Zhang et al., ScienceDirect, Preventive Medicine – Volume 145, Apr. 2021: sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091743520304394?dgcid=author
2. Acceptability of a COVID-19 vaccine among adults in the United States: How many people would get vaccinated? P. Reiter et al., Vaccine – Volume 38, Issue 42, Sep. 29, 2020: sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X20310847
3. Communicating about the COVID-19 Vaccines: Guidance and Sample Messages for Public Health Practitioners, Public Health Institute, Dec. 10, 2020: phi.org/thought-leadership/communicating-about-the-covid-19-vaccines-guidance-and-sample-messages-for-public-health-practitioners
4. Immunizations, Vaccines and Biologicals – Workforce, World Health Organization: who.int/immunization/programmes_systems/workforce/en

Telmediq Scores Best in KLAS: Named Clinical Communications Category Leader for Fourth Year in a Row

KLAS AwardIt was announced today that PerfectServe’s Telmediq solution received the coveted 2021 Best in KLAS award for the Clinical Communications segment. Telmediq finished with a score of 92.2, which is more than four points above the average Clinical Communication vendor score of 87.9.

First and foremost, we have to thank our customers for their continued partnership. The last 12 months have been endlessly challenging for healthcare organizations, and it’s been a pleasure working with so many of them to support their efforts responding to a public health crisis. We’re honored to be part of the incredible work so many frontline healthcare workers do every day, and customers will continue to be at the center of every decision we make.

This also marks Telmediq’s fourth consecutive year as the category leader for the Clinical Communications segment, and it reflects countless hours of hard work and dedication by our entire team, from support to product to R&D and beyond. Of particular note, three of the wins have come since PerfectServe’s acquisition of Telmediq in early 2019. Mergers and acquisitions frequently bring concerns about instability for customers, but with PerfectServe’s strong leadership team, we’re proud to say that the company’s expanded resources and talented employees have helped us stay laser focused on delivering the best results for customers.

It’s true that awards are always validating, but recognition from KLAS stands apart because it directly reflects the voice of our customers. KLAS checks in with more than 30,000 healthcare professionals every year as part of their surveying process, so if a product is lacking, they’re going to hear about it firsthand. For that reason, we celebrate this award as proof of successful partnerships with the incredible healthcare organizations we’re fortunate to call customers.

The word “partner” has been uttered in many a PerfectServe Zoom meeting over the last 12 months as we have considered the best ways to support customers through the COVID-19 pandemic. These discussions resulted in an offer of free software and services in the initial stages of the outbreak, and customer feedback about the need for remote patient engagement led us to reprioritize our product roadmap to rapidly develop and launch a new Patient & Family Communication solution that supports video visits, real-time family text updates, and a virtual waiting room capability. Agility and customer service were the themes of 2020.

As we build on the momentum of this humbling recognition and think about what’s ahead for 2021, the words of PerfectServe CEO Guillaume Castel from his interview with HIStalk in September ring truer than ever:

  • All 350 of us at PerfectServe wake up in the morning with a desire to solve bigger problems for our clients and their patients. We start with the end in mind. We are excited about the progress that we have made with our clients and the progress that they are making with their patients.”
  • The journey is what we think of as unified communications. It crosses boundaries and it cannot be an afterthought. It needs to be core to the mission of the company that commits to delivering it. Similarly, workflow enhancements can be achieved by combining technology and innovation with experience and know-how, not just releasing tools and demanding that a clinician use them.”
  • “We spent a great deal of time thoughtfully integrating the various capabilities and thinking about how we could make the sum of the parts bigger than what they were. What we have now is a cross continuum way of enabling communications at scale for the largest health systems in the United States.”

Guillaume’s statements aren’t just idle talk, either. KLAS commentary for Telmediq consistently highlights the professionalism of our team, their willingness to listen to—and take action based on—customer feedback, and how well the platform works. This December 2020 testimony from one organization’s CMIO is a prime example:

  • “Telmediq’s support for us is beyond compare. We are interfacing their product with another vendor’s system, and it is not an easy thing to pass that information back and forth. However, Telmediq has always been willing to invest the time from their side to help our people do that integration. Telmediq is very willing to consider ideas. If we say that we want an improvement to the product, they will actually take that back to their developers, and some version down the road will have that change in it. Telmediq is very responsive to their clients in terms of optimizing the product and doing product development to make it work better.”

More health systems than ever are relying on clinical communication & collaboration (CC&C) systems to coordinate care, and the trend is likely to accelerate in coming years. Though a lot has changed at PerfectServe in the last few years, our dedication to customers and drive to innovate have not wavered in the slightest. With our class-leading (and KLAS-leading!) clinical communication system supplemented by advanced provider scheduling and patient communication capabilities, PerfectServe is uniquely positioned to help health systems improve outcomes for patients—both now and far into the future—by delivering the right information to the right person at the right time for any given situation.

Check back next year around this time to see if we’re holding true to our commitment by going five-for-five with KLAS. For now, we’re going to get back to work.

Reserve a demo with an innovative partner rated Best in KLAS for Clinical Communications after four consecutive years leading the category.

 

Is your medical practice disaster and emergency proof?

Emergency and Disaster Checklist banner

It’s easy not to think about unprecedented circumstances and how they could impact your practice … until one occurs. By the time a wildfire, hurricane, earthquake, snowstorm, or pandemic happens, some practices are caught behind the eight ball, trying to frantically plan for remote patient access and communication.

These types of situations put you, your practice, and your patients under tremendous stress, making timely communication between providers and patients more essential than ever. Providers and practice managers need to proactively identify communication risks, create protocols, and employ solutions to minimize risk, so you’re not left scrambling to react at the onset of an emergency.

Open Lines of Patient Communication

When an unforeseen disaster or emergency takes place, it’s important for the lines of communication between your patients and providers to remain open and accessible. Even if your medical practice closes its doors, your communication solution should still be fully functional—routing patient messages, escalating urgent calls, and helping you and your patient base stay connected.

Unfortunately, not every practice communication service is capable of maintaining functionality virtually during a disaster or emergency.

Considerations for Selecting Practice Communication Solutions

When you’re identifying your communication risks and evaluating your current service’s performance, consider the following:

Solution Infrastructure

Does your solution have a protocol for extended power outages or office closures? Are there backup protocols in place to prevent lost or delayed messages?

If the answer to either question is “No,” your patients won’t have any way of reaching the right on-call provider during a disaster or emergency. Damage to communication infrastructure is common during disasters. Power outages can affect landline phone service, especially if you depend on broadband connections, like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

In the event of a forced office closure, how would your medical answering service contact your providers? A practice communication solution that is cloud-based enables providers and patients to connect quickly regardless of location, outages, or facility closures.

Automated Routing and Escalation Capabilities

What happens when your medical answering service can’t take your overflow, after-hours, or overnight calls and messages due to closure? What happens if the on-call provider is unable to answer their phone?

Make sure the solution you choose offers rerouting and escalation policies for urgent messages when notifications are not answered. Look for 24/7 automated call and message forwarding that doesn’t rely on middlemen, so your patients can always reach the right providers in times of need.

Remote Patient Monitoring and Communication

If your practice is forced to close during a natural disaster, how will your providers manage patients with a chronic illness or conditions? During widespread illnesses, how will your practice mitigate risks of infection?

Search for solutions that enable providers to send two-way provider-to-patient text messages tailored to each patient’s unique circumstance. Look for the ability to:

  • Broadcast messages to patients during community-wide disasters and emergencies.
  • Assess symptom severity and gauge pain levels.
  • Initiate patient phone and video screenings.
  • Send details on how to access care.
  • Prescribe new treatment plans.
  • Share best practices for staying safe, proactive, and healthy.

To help ensure your practice can avoid interruption of essential functions and services during unexpected events, we’ve created a Medical Practice Disaster & Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

 

Create a plan to stay connected with patients in critical moments.