Medical Practice Management Ideas for Physician-Owned Clinics

Frazzled Medical Practice Manager dealing with many requests

“33% of Medical Group Management leaders plan to automate patient communications in some way due to staffing shortages.”1

 

If you’re a physician or practice manager, you’re likely tasked with medical staff schedules, bills, and patient responses.

With Hippocractic determination, you may have set out to provide value for patients and make a difference in your community. But how can you manage all these administrative duties while treating patient conditions?

Implementing effective medical practice software may improve your patient outcomes. With employee shortages and urgent requests affecting speed to care, we put together a list of ideas you can implement today. Let’s take a look at a few medical practice examples that others have found useful for improved workflows.

Medical Practice Management Examples

Larger Medical Group Medical Practices

Larger medical group management needs have a few differences compared to smaller, physician-owned clinics. They typically include multiple specialists, a large clinical staff, medical partnerships, and offices scattered throughout a city, county, or region. 

For example, Mid-Atlantic Nephrology Associates (MANA) had eight office locations which served twelve hospitals in their metropolitan city. With multiple locations, managing on-call physician schedules and patient requests were a challenge. Inefficient communication resulted in providers being contacted at the wrong time. Shared logins and passwords became inaccessible due to security lockouts, and practitioners were unable to share secure images and messages to accurately treat patients.

The needs varied from communicating the latest power outage to who was on which dialysis unit, where, and when. The practice managers did not have full control over the schedules, and there was no way of knowing when a schedule was updated. They were unable to match who was on call when and at which location.

After getting everyone on a unified communication system, the nephrologists were able to see lab results right away. Group texts were sent to the whole care team and medical staff, so they knew what to expect in case of early closures or emergencies. To improve patient response times, all practice managers received a backup notification when a provider didn’t respond within 48 hours. In this way, patient messages were never missed.

By putting these medical practice communication systems in place, the providers didn’t have to worry about their schedules being disrupted while off the clock. The organization was able to get everyone on the same page. The practice managers had full control over the schedules again, allowing them to update on the fly while syncing to each location and provider.

Physician-Owned Clinics and Specialties

Building reliable systems for a small practice now can help you when it’s time to scale. Aside from medical billing and medical supply inventory, an optimized communication flow between providers and patients forms the backbone for a physician-owned clinic’s success. 

Smaller medical practices often use medical answering services to inform patients and other specialties of holiday hours, weekly office times, and who to contact for which request. Much like the large group practice example, yet with fewer locations and reduced staff size. 

For example, one medical clinic needed to let patients know their Monday through Friday hours, lunch break from 12-1 PM, and who was on call for the weekend. They needed a way to check messages and follow up without the doctor being paged for non-urgent matters. For inpatient and outpatient critical lab results, physicians needed to access that information quickly and get notified about it.

After implementing custom voicemail prompts for inpatient and outpatient labs, office hours, and urgent versus non-urgent requests, patient callbacks improved. Timely messages were routed to the right on-call specialist. The office manager was able to login to the system each day through a secure app or web browser to verify and track messages. Any edits to the schedule went into effect immediately with their specific medical communication software.

Medical Practice Management Ideas

Effective and updated communication is instrumental for operating a medical clinic or group practice. You can have one provider and two part-time staff all the way up to and beyond 100+ physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and locations. Large or small, you may share these medical practice communication strategies with your medical team and administrative decision-makers, and see if it leads to positive outcomes.

Fundamental Medical Practice Management Thoughts

Consider who your frequent patients are versus one-time patients. What does the patient journey look like? Are there ways to enhance your process and decrease human error, such as billing needs, messages, and phone calls? 

From before check-in all the way to post-acute follow ups and pharmacy prescriptions, reminding patients, and communicating with them along the way alleviates confusion. Establish a clinical workflow plan for responding to patients, inquiries from other specialities, and care team members. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for implementing these practice management strategies.

Custom Medical Answering Service Software for Medical Practices

Use a custom voicemail message related to your type of medical specialty. Setting up automated calls and notifications can reduce nurse and physician administrative burdens, allowing them to effectively receive updates, read patient charts, and respond appropriately.

A few medical specialty examples:

  • An obstetrics and gynecology clinic may need to include call flow questions related to the number of weeks pregnant, patient’s doctor, and a reason for the call.
  • A nephrology clinic may need to ask about BUN, creatinine, and potassium levels before routing the call to the right provider. This allows time for the physician or nurse practitioner to pull up the patient’s chart or other remote patient monitoring stats.
  • A surgery center may need to route a call based on the patient’s surgeon, patient location, and reason for the call, such as post-acute treatment instructions. They may need to provide message prompts for an attending anesthesiologist schedule.

Providing patients and additional providers with clearly defined instructions ensures the message gets to the right person. Taking time to set up communication flows correctly can save medical practices hours of time later.

Applying Telehealth Solutions in Medical Practice Management

Does using a video telehealth visit mean I offer free medical advice? Not if you’re helping patients. Traditionally, clinics could only bill for in-person visits. The COVID-19 pandemic thrust virtual services into the forefront, changing how the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule works via telehealth.2 For billable hours and unique codes, check the most recent CMS policies regarding virtual services.

“Telehealth services can be provided to new and established patients via smartphone if the smartphone allows for audio-video interaction between the physician and patient.”3

With secure telehealth messaging, family medicine practitioners and other medical specialties can utilize video appointments for patient follow-ups. Video technologies may be used by the whole care team, and a primary care doctor and surgeon could hop on a simple video call to discuss their patient’s next steps. For a clinical psychologist or behavioral health center, this could be an effective way to form alignment between a therapist and physician.

Secure Medical Text Reminders

How do you handle patient no-shows? What if patients are ignoring your phone calls and not logging into their portal? Perhaps patients frequently call the office for non-urgent matters or office hour information—all of which could easily be automated. 91.1% of patients surveyed in one study mentioned secure medical text updates helped them avoid calling the office.

Image of Secure Medical Text phones sending messages

What kinds of texts are best to send?

For medical practice management, here are a few suggestions:

  • Appointment reminders including day and time of appointment.
  • Virtual check-in reminders before arriving at the medical office.
  • Quick ad hoc video visits as part of a patient follow-up session.
  • Reminder to login through the organization’s portal for the detailed physician notes or AVS (After Visit Summary).
  • Prescription refill reminders.
  • Group texts to medical staff for updated closures or emergencies.

Using a patient text solution, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties was able to reduce its no-show rate by 12.6%, generating an average of $175 per visit.4 This is one example of how streamlining medical practice communication can improve patient care outcomes and reduce hefty administrative costs. 

Need more ideas? Take a few minutes to read through these customer success stories. It might be the next step in your journey to effective medical practice management. 

1MGMA Staff Members. (2022, March 23). Outsourcing, automation may provide help to short-staffed practices. Medical Group Management Association. https://www.mgma.com/resources/resources/operations-management/outsourcing,-automation-may-provide-help-to-short

2CMS (2022). List of Telehealth Services. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/Telehealth/Telehealth-Codes

3AAFP (2022). Coding Scenario: Coding for Telehealth Visits. American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/patient-care/current-hot-topics/recent-outbreaks/covid-19/covid-19-telehealth/coding-scenarios-during-covid-19/telehealth.html

4PerfectServe Success Stories. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/

Improving patient satisfaction and care with better communication

With the rise of value-based care, patient health outcomes are more important than ever. Healthier patients make a significant contribution toward increased reimbursement rates, but health outcomes are only part of the equation—patient satisfaction matters, too.

But that’s often easier said than done. With declining patient loyalty and the advent of consumerization in healthcare, patient satisfaction is difficult to achieve. It means your organization must make every effort to earn and retain a reputation for quality care that builds patient trust.

Technology plays an important role in keeping patients satisfied with their care. Dated solutions or disjointed patient care experiences can send them searching for smoother, more accessible, and more modern interactions.

In 2019, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS)—America’s premier academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health—wanted to elevate patient outcomes and experiences by improving care team communication across the organization. To do this, they implemented PerfectServe’s enterprise Clinical Collaboration solution.

PerfectServe brought significant improvements to care delivery workflows while also reducing stress and frustration among care team members. Not surprisingly, better clinical communication, more efficient care delivery, and happier clinicians contributed to improved patient satisfaction.

In fact, Press Ganey survey results from the quarters before and after PerfectServe’s go-live showed increases in the following categories (on a 0-10 scale):

  •  “Hospital rating” increased by 2.3 points.
  • “Hospital recommend” increased by 0.9 points.
  • “Staff address emotional needs” increased by 1.2 points.
  • “Response to concerns” increased by 1.2 points.

Faster Clinical Response Times

Critical Lab Results

Before PerfectServe, HSS relied on a manual process for delivering critical lab results—the lab tech had to call the ordering provider and ask them to log in to Epic. Leaving a voice message was not permitted, as a live verbal exchange was required to satisfy HSS’s internal protocols.

But physicians’ hectic schedules and fluctuating workloads meant delays in this process were common. Precious time was lost, and the risk of patient harm increased.

But now, once a critical result is verified, PerfectServe automatically delivers an alert to the appropriate provider using its proprietary Dynamic Intelligent Routing® technology. With all relevant information and patient context in the message, the provider can acknowledge and act upon the message right from their PerfectServe inbox—no phones, no callbacks, no delays.

After implementation, HSS looked at 1,100 critical lab alerts and noted an average 42% improvement in acknowledgment times. The quickest turnaround—from verification in the Laboratory Information System to provider acknowledgment—was just seven seconds. That’s less time than it takes just to dial a provider’s phone number.

PerfectServe also tracks when each result is received, read, and either accepted or declined by the recipient. Accepting closes the loop, while declining sends a message back to the lab for follow-up. Messages that are unacknowledged after six minutes are automatically escalated to the next provider in line.

Specialty Consult Requests

HSS also relies on PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing to automatically direct requests for neurology and stroke protocol consults. Regardless of who’s on-call or what kind of schedule changes have happened at the last minute, the right provider receives the request almost instantly.

Since implementation, PerfectServe has helped contact preoperative medical doctors over 8,000 times, with 80% of urgent messages read in less than five minutes. Similarly, HSS’s neurology department has received over 500 consult requests, with 85% retrieved in five minutes or less.

Sepsis Notifications

HSS uses PerfectServe to send out sepsis alerts using a two-part workflow:

  • The nurse alerts a physician assistant (PA) about a possible case. Then, if necessary, the PA alerts the responsible physicians (Modified Early Warning Score [MEWS] and Pediatric Early Warning Signs [PEWS]).
  • If needed, an alert is sent to the Sepsis Response Team and automatically escalated every minute until a doctor responds.

Since going live, nearly 700 messages have gone out to the MEWS and PEWS groups, and only nine of those have been further escalated to the Sepsis Response Team. PerfectServe’s ability to quickly and preemptively initiate the MEWS and PEWS teams is largely credited for keeping the sepsis alert number low.

Rapid Response Teams

Additionally, PerfectServe reduced HSS’s rapid response wait times to less than two minutes. These are scenarios when a patient’s clinical condition may be worsening dramatically, so fast intervention is critical. A review of the “signal one” alerts (similar to code blue) determined that PerfectServe reduced the median response time from two and half minutes to just 40 seconds— an improvement of 73%.

Staff Response Times

Additional analysis found that PerfectServe enabled HSS PAs to read 96% of initiated conversations from the PACU and inpatient floors in under 15 minutes. These were part of 8,000-10,000 monthly conversations where the average response time was less than 3.5 minutes.

These efficiency gains freed clinicians’ time and contributed to HSS’s improved Press Ganey survey results. Scores for both the “Response to concerns” and “Staff address emotional needs” categories rose by 1.2 points on a 10-point scale.

Reducing Readmissions

Because PerfectServe also provides HSS with a system-wide answering service, covering roughly 175 clinics, all the organization’s clinics have a built-in workflow for post-operative patients.

When one of these patients calls an HSS clinic, PerfectServe enables an immediate connection to a clinical nurse practitioner with the press of a button. Regardless of the reason for the call or the level of urgency, giving post-operative patients quick and easy access to a provider is a key part of care plan adherence and avoiding potential problems.

Better Communication, Better Care

Reducing obstacles that impede fast, accurate communication can go a long way toward improving patient care and satisfaction. Manual, inefficient workflows have been around for so long that they can sometimes seem like the only option. But for every delayed communication cycle, misdirected consult request, or unactioned critical lab result, there are countless potential ramifications that can negatively impact patient outcomes.

Thankfully, technology exists today that can automate clinical workflows, remove error and confusion from the communication process, and ensure that care team members are free to focus on keeping patients happy and healthy. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Reach out to learn more about how PerfectServe can transform the way your organization cares for patients while making your clinicians’ lives significantly easier. You can also download the HSS case study to learn more about their experience with PerfectServe.

How Remote Patient Engagement Solutions Reduce Readmissions

“Clinicians often perceive these initiatives as additive work that doesn’t seem to provide immediately obvious benefits to patient care. Executives tend to emphasize how important patient flow is to the organization’s efficiency and finances. But that doesn’t address clinician concerns, and they struggle to fully invest in these initiatives.” -Nursing Executive, Advisory Board1

Digital Patient Engagement: How to Address Challenges in Adoption

Misalignment and miscommunication of strategies lead to challenges among healthcare professionals and their team culture. A reluctance to adopt new technologies may have consequences, such as reduced patient response times, physicians being alerted or notified when they’re not on call, or non-urgent messages being delivered in the middle of the night when they should be held until normal business hours. If used well, however, these remote patient engagement tools can drive a variety of positive patient outcomes.

Medical directors, managers, and hospital leaders may grapple with physician resistance to digital patient engagement platforms. Their hesitancy might include the following questions: 

  • How can medical practitioners engage and connect with patients outside of brick-and-mortar facilities? 
  • Will remote patient engagement solutions actually improve value-based care outcomes and reduce patient readmission rates, or is this another technology fad? 
  • Can virtual visits and updated monitoring systems be turned into billable hours?

A plethora of new virtual patient technologies are being introduced in the marketplace. Hospital and clinical healthcare administrators are looking for ways to reduce patient readmissions and eliminate wasted costs. Yet, providers may see these new technologies as an added burden to their daily, in-person patient engagement workflows. Swamped with increasing demands and pay-to-perform incentives, patients may get lost in the shuffle, especially those who require chronic care management or specialty visits.

Both patients and providers may have a lack of awareness when it comes to ehealth engagement technology.2 Let’s look at a brief history and understanding of patient engagement, and how you can walk away knowing what strategies you should consider implementing for your medical organization.

What is Remote Patient Engagement in Healthcare?

Remote Patient Engagement Defined

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) is a broadly defined term which includes a range of digital tools that track a patient’s health. The information is sent back to healthcare professionals or caregivers to determine effective treatments. A few tech examples include heart monitoring devices, glucose meters, surveillance monitors, and digital reporting logs.3 

Remote patient engagement is the use of these tools and devices to communicate and follow up with patients in a secure, timely manner. These medical bands and devices are commonly used by physicians and practitioners to monitor chronic conditions and post-surgery assessments. Dieticians, therapists, and wellness coaches use these tools for preventive, proactive, and rehabilitative health plans.

Patient Engagement Before 2020

About 60 years ago, some of the first remote telemedicine technologies were developed by NASA to track the health of astronauts.4 As telehealth technology expanded, private companies and the government invested money and research into different healthcare delivery methods. Enter the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996 and the Affordable Care Act (ACT) in 2010, which allowed more coverage for patients with chronic conditions. This opened the door for accessible and reimbursable patient visits that utilize remote patient monitoring and telehealth technology.

Patient Engagement After 2020

The consumerization of healthcare has accelerated, but the trend was in motion well before the COVID-19 pandemic. This fueled demand for healthcare organizations and providers to communicate more frequently with their patients and families. Sharing healthcare information digitally can accelerate speed to care, and 77% of patients are willing to do so if it positively impacts their care.5

In a recent interview, PerfectServe Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rodrigo Martínez shared that patient engagement technology adoption is a main need for healthcare organizations to stay relevant over the next decade:

Image of a doctor with a quote from Dr. Rodrigo Martínez

Patient Engagement Digital Platforms

The types of digital platforms that facilitate patient engagement vary widely. Some offer niche-specific chronic care and treatment, like Health Recovery Solutions, which tracks biometric activity, such as blood pressure and oxygen levels. Amazon has even joined the game with their Halo Band, which measures movement and sleep tracking. According to one study, 69% of respondents use smartwatches for chronic care management.6

List of Common Patient Engagement Devices

Like Gene Roddenberry’s tricorder in Star Trek, new medical devices are developed every year. One company invented DxtER™, a device designed “to prove the concept that illnesses can be diagnosed and monitored in the comfort of one’s own home by consumers without any medical training.”7 It was created to diagnose up to 34 different health conditions. While it’s not fully launched in the consumer marketplace, healthcare organizations and trained practitioners do use similar medical patient engagement devices.

Medical devices typically go hand-in-hand with a digital monitoring system for patient care, and for physician and nurse communication. Common devices used for patient engagement may include:

  • Wearable bands (Smartwatches, Fitbit, etc.)
  • Glucometer
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Electrocardiograph
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Digital scale
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets or Laptops
  • DxTer Tricorder (Yes, inspired by Star Trek.)

Knowing these tools are available is one thing. Applying them in a way that enables patients to communicate with a physician or nurse is another. So how can a healthcare organization use patient engagement strategies to their full advantage?

Patient Engagement Strategies: Reach Patients Before They Get Readmitted

According to CMS, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) “encourages hospitals to improve communication and care coordination to better engage patients and caregivers in discharge plans and, in turn, reduce avoidable readmissions.”8 With 6 in 10 adults in the U.S. having been diagnosed with a chronic disease, patient engagement tools and workflows will remain a priority for healthcare organizations.9 An awareness of these needs, combined with actionable foresight, may reduce these readmission events.

Do You Have a Patient Engagement Strategy?

Create a plan to measure your patient outcomes, not just quick, transactional clinic visits. Identify which remote patient engagement solution is best for your providers—something that is easy to train and implement. Being proactive versus reactive with these tools could boost physician, nurse, and patient morale. 

What are the common goals your healthcare organization wants to achieve? Knowing this information can act as a filter for your patient engagement strategy plans.

Patient Engagement Example for a Chronic-Condition Specialty Practice

patient and doctor texting back and forth with medical messages

If you are a specialty practice, build common message templates related to your patient’s frequent needs, which, when delivered to the patient, allow them to respond and transition to a remote video visit initiated by the right on-call provider. Here is one example for a 65-year-old patient with a recent kidney disease diagnosis and low GFR:

Physician’s Office: “Thank you for calling Green Valley Nephrology Clinic. Our hours are 9 AM through 5 PM Monday through Friday. If this is an emergency, please hang up and dial 911. Otherwise, press one to leave a message, press two to schedule an appointment, etc.”

Patient: (Presses one) “Hi Doc. This is George. I’m calling about my test results and the blood draw you did for my kidneys. I can’t remember my login to look at it, and I’m not good with computers. Do I need to go to the hospital? I’m peeing more than normal and I have some swelling in my legs and feet. Let me know.”

Physician’s Office: (Call routes to the on-call physician. Message alert pings Dr. Shaeffer, the on-call nephrologist. He decides to send a text message back through a secure, front-office number that masks his personal cell phone). 

Dr. Schaeffer: (Via text message) “Hi George. I received your message. Do you have a few minutes to hop on a video call? I will send you a link.”

Patient: Yes, sure. Send me the link.”

Dr. Schaeffer: (Physician sends secure link.) “Here you go. [hyperlink]”

Patient: “Oh, there you are—got it. I see you now. Thanks for sending me the link. Wow, technology these days! So, do I need to go to the hospital?”

(Video conversation continues with patient and on-call specialist).

Scenarios like the conversion above may occur for any established, chronic-care patient and their physician. Let’s look at a few tips you could implement for your healthcare organization, so more patients like George can receive better care.

4 Ideas to Increase Patient Engagement

  1. Send frequent—but not too frequent—text reminders that are beneficial for the patient. Some examples include appointment reminders, critical lab results, treatment reminders, and clinic feedback questions. Let them know you care by using automated touch-points which save time for both medical practitioners and the patient in day-to-day interactions.
  2. When assessing chronic conditions, see if there is a way the patient can message you securely or log in to their health record to view the same data.
  3. Communicate a plan for the office staff and medical practitioners so they know what messages and protocols have been set up. This includes things like lab results, inbound voicemails, and which messages are critical versus non-critical for patient healthcare outcomes. 
  4. Coordinate schedules so all patients know at least one on-call practitioner can answer their questions. Updates to these schedules can be automated from the provider or administrative staff through a simple app, without chasing down a Google calendar or paper spreadsheet at the office.

For more ideas on how medical groups are using patient engagement strategies, see a demo of PerfectServe’s solutions for your medical practice or hospital.

1Nursing Executive Center. (2020). Engaging Frontline Staff in Patient Flow: Two tactics to engage clinicians’ hearts and minds [White paper]. Advisory Board. https://advisory-prod.azureedge.net/-/media/project/advisoryboard/shared/research/nec/success-pages/2020/engaging-frontline-staff-in-patient-flow.pdf

2Safi, S. Thiessen, T. Schmailzl, K. (2018). Acceptance and Resistance of New Digital Technologies in Medicine: Qualitative Study. JMIR Publications, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.2196/11072

3Delvecchio, A. (n.d.). remote patient monitoring (RPM). SearchHealthIT. https://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/remote-patient-monitoring-RPM

4Gruessner, V. (2015, November 9). The History of Remote Monitoring, Telemedicine Technology In recent years, healthcare reforms and federal legislation has pushed forward the spread of telemedicine technology and other technological advancements. mHealthIntelligence. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/the-history-of-remote-monitoring-telemedicine-technology 

5(2021, June 15). New Data from HIMSS Shows Rapid Digital Health Adoption Necessitates Personalized Patient Technology. HIMSS. https://www.himss.org/news/new-data-himss-shows-rapid-digital-health-adoption-necessitates-personalized-patient

6Neslon, H. (2021, January 22). Condition-Specific mHealth Devices Best in Chronic Care Management. mHealthIntelligence xtelligent Healthcare Media. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/condition-specific-mhealth-devices-best-in-chronic-care-management

7DxtER™ A New Kind of Consumer Medical Device. Basil Leaf Technologies. https://www.basilleaftech.com/dxter/

8(2021, December 1). Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). CMS.gov. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/AcuteInpatientPPS/Readmissions-Reduction-Program

9(2022, January 24). Chronic Diseases in America. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

Ochsner Health Drives Physician Engagement, Reduces Burnout With Better Schedule Management

The subject of healthcare burnout is not new. In fact, according to the KLAS “Clinician Burnout 2021” report¹ published in December, burnout levels are higher than ever, with the pandemic being a prime contributor:

For physicians in particular, KLAS notes that one of the biggest contributors to burnout is having no personal control over their workload. Taking care of patients is rewarding, but doctors aren’t robots—they need to rest and recuperate, and during times of elevated stress, they need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

At the recent ADVANCE 2022 conference hosted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, New Orleans-based Ochsner Health presented research and findings² that demonstrate how PerfectServe’s Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt can help to stem the tide on burnout and loss of control.

At Ochsner, Lightning Bolt “significantly improves physician engagement and reduces burnout by creating fair and flexible schedules that support work-life balance—even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The results presented by Dhruv Choudhry, M.D., lead author of the study and anesthesiology resident at Ochsner, are powerful:

1. Six months after implementing Lightning Bolt for a department of 60 anesthesiologists, a Press Ganey survey revealed that their average engagement score had increased by nearly 30%, from 3.3 to 4.2 out of 5. This was one of the largest increases across the Ochsner Health system.

2. Lightning Bolt drove this increase by granting more vacation days, reducing ungranted vacation days, and providing more predictability and flexibility than the prior staff-created scheduling system.

3. Compared to the previous manual scheduling process, which required 60 to 75 staff hours per month on average, Lightning Bolt auto-generates “the best schedule for the department” in just 14 hours. Collectively, that’s two and a half days of staff time saved per month and 30 days saved over the course of a year.

Anecdotally, Dr. Choudhry also reported that Lightning Bolt gives anesthesiologists  “one or two mornings and one or two afternoons off a month to allow for increased work-life balance so they are better able to attend events important to them.”

Talking more specifically about the pandemic, Dr. Choudhry noted that Lightning Bolt allowed Ochsner to quickly and seamlessly build schedules for COVID ICUs as they were opened. Physicians could also indicate in the system whether they preferred to work in the operating room or the ICU, which added a degree of control to an often-uncertain situation.

In addition to the results Ochsner presented at the conference, the organization has seen other notable improvements after implementing Lightning Bolt:

  • Auto-generation and publication of schedules through Lightning Bolt saves Ochsner roughly 720 hours per year versus previous scheduling methods.
  • Vacation request approval has increased by 55%.
  • Lightning Bolt has improved OR case handoffs, saving Ochsner $600,000 per year.
  • The use of reporting has allowed for greater transparency and helps physicians to better understand equalization rules. For example, it’s easy to demonstrate that weekend work is being evenly distributed to avoid any one person feeling like they’re shouldering too much of the load.
  • Integration with Epic On-Call Finder has improved transfer center operations and yielded better speed to care for patients.

Taken as a whole, Ochsner’s experience with Lightning Bolt is a strong endorsement of advanced scheduling technology and the many ways it can improve the lives of providers, staff, and patients. When providers have more control of and better visibility into their schedules, and when they know those schedules can be built equitably while accounting for their personal preferences, they are more likely to be satisfied at work. Greater provider satisfaction often leads to better patient care, better retention, and better metrics across the board.

We thank our friends and partners at Ochsner not only for presenting their findings, but also for reminding us that healthcare technology has the power to change, improve, and even save lives every day.

Ready to learn more about transforming your organization through better scheduling?

Citations

  1. Clinician Burnout 2021, KLAS Research Arch Collaborative, Jacob Jeppson, Dec. 3, 2021: klasresearch.com/report/clinician-burnout-2021-covid-19-increasingly-cited-in-rising-burnout/2080
  2. Using AI to create work schedules significantly reduces physician burnout, study shows, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Jan. 28, 2022: asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2022/01/using-ai-to-create-work-schedules-significantly-reduces-physician-burnout

Develop a Clinical Communication Governance Strategy

Ensure the investment you’ve made is used and adopted as intended

Governance is an important tool organizations use to ensure that software implementation and adoption aligns with business goals and complies with external regulations. A good governance program offers a framework for achieving measurable progress toward organizational objectives and maintaining compliance standards.

Adding to operational complexity, organizations now operate in an environment defined by distributed networks, distributed teams, and cloud-based everything, and a rapidly expanding big data ecosystem that’s becoming increasingly difficult to control.

A good governance system addresses these issues and is designed so that assets such as clinical communication tools provide maximum value to healthcare organizations and patients.

To make governance work for your organization, we’ve developed a checklist to help you manage your Clinical Communication Governance Strategy.

HIPAA Compliant Texting: Tips on Patient Communication

With the number of smartphone users in the U.S. expected to cross the 300 million milestone in 2022, it’s now possible to connect with anyone at almost any time.1 This digital transformation gives healthcare providers, patients, and family members a great opportunity to communicate during and after care.

Here are some ways HIPAA-compliant secure messaging can help, especially during times when going to hospitals and medical practices in person isn’t always an option.

HIPAA Compliance Rules Explained for Healthcare

The rules for HIPAA compliance in healthcare prohibit medical providers—including physicians, nurses, and staff—within the practice from releasing protected health information (PHI) without the consent of the patient or guardian. All health organizations are required to train their staff annually on how to comply with HIPAA regulations. With the installation of HIPAA-compliant software like PerfectServe, providers can safely integrate patient communications in secure clinical messaging.

Healthcare Before HIPAA

Have you ever wondered what healthcare was like before HIPAA? Before the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have a National Health Privacy Law, and patients relied on laws in each state about patient privacy. HIPAA was created to set national standards to protect PHI from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.2

Healthcare After HIPAA

After HIPAA was established, medical providers had new guidelines for protecting patient information, regardless of their practice size or specialty. Today, HIPAA requires all practices to attain patient consent forms to use PHI for healthcare delivery, payments, practice communications, and other uses of PHI for marketing or research purposes.3

How Does Secure Patient Communication Work?

Traditionally, practices and medical providers have been forced to use multiple platforms to achieve secure patient communications. Ensuring all information on multiple platforms is current and correct requires more staff and time. Now, they have options to streamline the workflow for health information, provider communication, reminders, HIPAA-compliant texting, and patient records all within one platform.

Voicemail and Phone Message Prompts

Different medical practices use voicemail and phone message prompts as conduits for communicating securely with their patients. But this method of communication is often cumbersome, requiring a lot of follow-ups and tracking, which leaves the door open for missing information. Practices have often found a positive response in patient satisfaction, appointment scheduling, and overall communication when switching to a streamlined and secure messaging patient platform.

Secure Medical Texting

Smartphones are veritable Swiss Army knives these days—they’re used for communicating, maintaining calendars, browsing the internet, wayfinding, and many other tasks or activities. To emphasize the immediacy of contact when smartphones are in play, one research article indicated that 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes, whereas emails are often overlooked.4 Allowing communication between healthcare providers through secure HIPAA-compliant texting creates a win-win for not only the patient experience, but also the medical practice managers and hospital staff.

Secure Clinical Messaging for Better Patient Communication

PerfectServe provides HIPAA-compliant secure texting solutions to empower clinicians to text nurses, physicians, patients, and family members all in one app that can include attachments, videos, and more for communication purposes. As medical providers, it’s crucial to obtain accurate, up-to-date information and reminders for each of your patients.

Text Messages Help with Patient Reminders

One PerfectServe client, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties, was able to reduce no-show appointment rates by 12.6% using automated secure text messages to patients. Ridgeview reported 6,264 no-show appointments in 2016 and realized it was imperative to make a change using new technology to streamline messaging. Over two years, the switch to secure text reminders resulted in more patient engagement and fewer no-show appointments. Overall, the facility was able to reduce no-show appointments by 792 annually with an estimated revenue gain of $138,600.5

Providers Can Message Patients on the Fly

Having access to reliable connectivity across locations makes it easy to deliver timely communication and care. Providers can use secure video, voice, and HIPAA-compliant text messaging from specialty practices to the hospital staff while using a phone, tablet, pager, computer, or landline. Organizations with more advanced PerfectServe deployments have even embedded the communication platform directly within the EHR, which allows providers to cut back on time spent toggling between devices and other apps by up to 76.3%. Imagine being able to admit a patient into the ER, receive blood work, and contact their primary care physician all within one platform.

Integrations are another key differentiator that set PerfectServe apart from similar HIPAA-compliant texting apps. Unnecessary provider disruptions can be avoided by integrating schedules with workflow engines, and integration with the EHR to incorporate information like patient lists unlocks a wide number of valuable workflow capabilities. Integration with the nurse call system frees nurses from the bedside by giving them the ability to monitor and respond to patient alerts and requests from any location, especially if they’re equipped with smartphones.

PerfectServe provides secure messaging, connectivity from any location, accessibility on all devices, embedded EHR messaging, automated routing, and improved workflows all from one easy-to-use application.

For more information, read how secure text and video messaging helped other practices communicate effectively across the care continuum.

1O’Dea, S. (2021, March 19). Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2018 to 2025 (in millions). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/201182/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/

2(2018, September 14). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html

3Kibbe, C. (2001, March 8). What You Need to Know About HIPAA Now. Family Practice Manager, 8(6):43-47. https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2001/0300/p43.html

4Lane, N. (2010, June). Conversational Advertising. MobileSquared. https://mobilesquared.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Conversational-Advertising.pdf

5PerfectServe Success Stories. Ridgeview Rehab Specialities department reduces non-show rates by 12.6% with automated text messages to patients. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/

Why Secure Medical Texting Works Better for Patients

Secure Text Messaging for Physicians and Medical Practices

When your staff books an appointment with patients over the phone, there’s no guarantee they will come. Patients may miss or skip medical appointments for a variety of reasons: fear, overlapping commitments, lack of resources, or even just forgetfulness. That’s why it’s crucial to tap into habits patients already use for their personal and professional lives, such as calendar invites and text reminders.1

We’re all patients, and we rely on our phones—a lot. So why not engage patients on their own devices? It’s a solid bet that text messaging will continue to be the number one form of communication cross-generationally among the general public.

“91.9% of patients agreed that text updates helped them avoid calling the office.”2

Patients Check Text Messages More Than Email

Text messaging is one of the fastest and most successful ways to engage with patients. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate and are typically read within the first few minutes of delivery. By comparison, email open rates only average between 12-25%.3

Do you know how many times Americans check their phones? 160 times a day.4 That’s more than enough to deliver a critical message to a patient or care team member.

Mobile phone usage transcends economic barriers. If a patient doesn’t have access to transportation, a reminder text message could allow them time to get assistance from a rideshare program. One medical provider sent three text reminders to inform patients of the Lyft vehicle picking them up, along with three more follow-up texts after the visit to ensure they arrived home safely. From this effort, patient show rates improved from 54% to 68%.5

These strategies reduce emergency department visits, especially if the clinic partners with social support services or similar rideshare programs. In addition, sending appointment reminders to patients with chronic conditions via text can help them stay on top of their needs and improve their road to recovery.

Texting may offer an efficient, inexpensive way to give a voice to people who aren’t often heard and whose needs aren’t always met.6

Two Reasons Patients Prefer Secure Healthcare Messages

HIPAA rules state that the law “does not prohibit the use of text messaging in healthcare. It is perfectly acceptable for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to communicate with each other—and even patients—via text message.”7 While this is true, certain protections and safeguards still need to be in place to maintain secure PHI, and the data must be encrypted. Using a secure text message system will reduce the friction of communication barriers for both healthcare providers and their patients.

#1 – Secure Text Reminders Keep Patients Engaged

Patients are busy. They may be at work, with family, or lack methods in which to reach the medical office. When they are able to call and check on their appointment, medical staff may not be available to take the message. Sending a text message appointment reminder with a HIPAA-compliant system may decrease those communication errors and missed calls. Another way to alleviate this tension is to set up one-way message reminders regarding patient prescriptions and appointments.

Learn how one medical practice used this method to reduce patient no-shows.

#2 – Forgot Your Portal Login? A Secure Medical Text Might Solve the Problem

Fewer than 25% of patients activate an account for their provider’s patient portal.8 Maybe a lot happened during an appointment, and the physician typed a mountain of notes in the portal. The details and care instructions were clearly defined and detailed. But does the patient know this? Not if they never access the portal.

Using text to support post-appointment instructions such as specialist referrals, medication adherence, or exercises can be a great way to increase patient engagement. Patients could use the secure link to inquire about their treatment, and the provider can respond with clarifying questions and care guidance. A secure, two-way system enables providers to text patients without receiving a flood of calls on their personal device. This mitigates patient call volume, especially on holiday weekends and more typical Saturdays and Sundays.

Rather than getting bogged down with interactions that leave patients with more questions than answers and doctors with directives that go unfollowed, connected care technology promotes a more interactive relationship around treatment.9

Why Text Messaging is the Future of Patient Engagement

#1 – It Keeps Clinical Communication Efficient

Instead of stockpiling 30+ voicemails until the office opens, why not route those calls to the appropriate care team member as needed? Using voice-to-text (V2T) technology can reduce medical transcription errors and confirm an accurate message gets delivered and received by the current on-call provider. A patient call experience could look like this:

Physician Messaging System: “Dr. Driver is on call this afternoon. Please call them at 999-999-9999.” 

Patient: “Hi Doc, is it okay if I take another aspirin after 2 o’clock today? I need to know as I’m still experiencing a lot of pain.”

Using the V2T technology to send the information, Dr. Driver could get the simple alert and decide to respond with a secure message. Combined with masking their personal number, they could send a HIPAA-secure link to initiate a virtual appointment if necessary.

#2 – It Improves Care Delivery Outcomes and Provides Valuable Feedback

Need a feedback loop to understand why patients skipped their last few appointments? What about measuring patient satisfaction scores? Send out your next patient satisfaction survey through a secure medical text.

Patients are more likely to leave an honest review about your medical practice if you follow up after the appointment. Armed with patient feedback, medical practice managers and hospital leaders can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and allocate resources to improve patient outcomes.

Texting is here to stay, and you can utilize it to reduce costs, save time, and better engage patients.

Is it time to rethink your patient communication strategies?

See this research guide on supporting value-based care initiatives for patients through secure text. Better communication = better outcomes.

1Norman, Abby. (2020, January 21). 4 Reasons People Don’t Go to the Doctor. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-people-dont-go-to-the-doctor-4779661

2Campbell, K., Blackburn, B. Erickson, J., Pelt, C., Anderson, L., Peters, C., Gililland, J. (2021). Evaluating the Utility of Using Text Messages to Communicate With Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 5(6).

3What Are the Average Click and Read Rates for Email Campaigns? Campaign Monitor. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-are-the-average-click-and-read-rates-for-email-campaigns/

4Dobrilova, T. (2021, December 7). 35+ Must-Know SMS Marketing Statistics in 2021. TechJury. https://techjury.net/blog/sms-marketing-statistics/#gref

5Chaiyachati, K., Hubbard, R., Yeager, A., Mugo, B., Shea, J., Rosin, R., Grande, D. (2018, June). Rideshare-Based Medical Transportation for Medicaid Patients and Primary Care Show Rates: A Difference-in-Difference Analysis of a Pilot Program. J GEN INTERN MED 33(6), 863–868. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4306-0

6Chang, T. Text messaging connects people to healthier habits, researchers to urban subjects. University of Michigan Health: Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/text-messaging-connects-people-healthier-habits-researchers-urban-subjects

7HIPAA Journal. Text Messaging in Healthcare. https://www.hipaajournal.com/text-messaging-in-healthcare/

8Campbell, et al.

9Kennedy, R. (2021 November 12). 5 Ways Tech and Care Delivery Models Get Payers Closer to the Quadruple Aim. Managed Healthcare Executive. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/5-ways-tech-and-care-delivery-models-get-payers-closer-to-the-quadruple-aim

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.

Clinical Collaboration Systems for Hospitals—Complete Guide

Clinical 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

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?