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

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?

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

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.

Rapid Critical Result Reporting With Clinical Communication Technology

Medical Delays and Critical Response Times

Delays in communicating life-threatening lab or radiology results can lead to unnecessary patient transfers and longer lengths of stay. In contrast, rapid and accurate communication of critical lab and radiology test results lead to timely clinical interventions, improved treatment outcomes, and prevention of comorbidities.

The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal 02.03.01 requires that organizations report critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures on a timely basis,1 yet some teams struggle to measure compliance and meet their goals. Even with the increasing number of high-tech tools available to hospitals, it’s not always easy for inpatient and outpatient laboratories to optimize critical value reporting due to several challenges.

For example, delays related to intermediaries and unavailability can affect reporting times. One of the most challenging aspects in an outpatient setting is the volume of unanswered pages and forgotten callbacks from providers, despite the fact that nearly 90% walk around with smartphones in their pockets.2 Compliance issues also tend to result from faulty processes in which the provider that ordered the test is no longer on call—a complication which, in an inpatient setting, requires the nurse to track down the correct covering provider.

To ensure that messages are received by providers that can immediately act upon the information, intelligent systems must be employed. Integration with modern clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology helps organizations ensure that test results are delivered immediately to the appropriate bedside nurse, ordering physician, and on-call provider. A comprehensive solution will escalate results within specific timeframes as the need arises, along with documenting all communication for auditing purposes.

Ensuring Timeliness and Accuracy in the Notification Process

Organizations face challenges with timely delivery of test results. Is the right person notified at the right time? First, the right recipient can be difficult to determine when dealing with an expansive care team and complicated on-call provider coverage. Then, delivery of results can be a challenge due to varying levels of EHR access and adoption, sometimes in addition to technical message transmission issues.

Finally, confirmation that the test results were received and action is being taken is needed to close the communication loop, but various factors can lead to a lack of response from the recipient, such as:

  • An error in reaching a provider who is available to immediately act on the information (e.g. the correct on-call provider, covering physician, assigned nurse, or care team member).
  • Sending a message via EHR to an affiliated provider who does not access the EHR outside the facility (and therefore does not see the message).
  • A delay in message delivery because the recipient is beyond the reach of the hospital’s Wi-Fi and/or cellular coverage.
  • Alarm fatigue and/or confusion caused by a multitude of alert sounds that bombard clinical staff throughout their day.

The right CC&C technology can be very effective for automating protocols like those related to critical result notification to bypass various obstacles.

3 Keys to Success With Your Critical Result Communication Program

1. Guarantee that the correct care team receives the alert.

Your CC&C solution should offer the ability to customize which care team members are notified of which clinical findings. For example, a critical potassium alert might always go to the nurse and the provider, while a critical BUN only alerts the nurse. To inform message routing and ensure the correct team members receive the alert, the solution must rely on comprehensive electronic on-call schedules that incorporate service line, group, and personal coverage details. If multiple scheduling tools are used across the organization, they all must be integrated to inform accurate message delivery.

Additionally, your CC&C technology should integrate with all care team systems that house patient assignments including the EHR, nurse call, ancillary department applications, etc. to ensure that the appropriate patient care team members are alerted to new clinical findings.

2. Ensure that physicians, nurses, and care team members can easily acknowledge, accept, and decline/escalate results.

The improved process will garner greater adoption if all recipients can easily respond to alerts by tapping a button (e.g. “Acknowledge,” “Accept,” or “Decline”/“Escalate”) or selecting a response from a dropdown menu (e.g. “I’m entering an order in the EHR now.”).

The workflow can be further streamlined if the CC&C solution facilitates quick access to the EHR through a link within the result message. Tight application integration enables staff to seamlessly move between applications and functions to access patient context.

3. Build escalation protocols to transmit the critical result to the next-level provider if a response is not received within a certain timeframe.

If a physician, nurse, or care team member is either unavailable (e.g. in a sterile procedure) or inaccessible (e.g. offline; out of Wi-Fi range or cell coverage), the ideal solution will automatically escalate the message to the right person to ensure a timely response.

Consistency, a Sign of Success

As your new critical result reporting process reduces workload for staff by automatically delivering results to the correct recipient, an advanced CC&C solution removes variability caused by the human element. A fully integrated solution will eliminate staff inconsistencies related to reaction times, follow-up with non-responsive individuals, and documentation of event notifications.

Evaluating the Timeliness of Reporting

The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal for communication of critical results and diagnostic procedures specifies the need to evaluate the timeliness of reporting. In the quest for continuous quality improvement, your clinical communications solution should provide real-time dashboards. This should include and display acknowledgement status for all critical results and rich reports with auditing capabilities for all critical value communications.

Time stamps and event logs allow organizations to set goals, measure performance against established criteria, identify patterns (e.g. day of week, time of day), and most importantly, support accountability across providers and clinical staff.

“We measured our response time to critical lab alerts across 1,100 results and achieved a 42% improvement in acknowledgment times. The fastest alert read was two seconds, the fastest acknowledgment was 7 seconds, and the median acknowledgment time was one minute, 23 seconds. We’re extremely pleased with the role CC&C has played in our ability to monitor and manage critical result notifications.”

– Robyn Townsend, Assistant Director, Clinical Applications, Hospital for Special Surgery

If you’d like to explore how PerfectServe can help improve your laboratory and diagnostic reporting processes, click below to request a call with a clinical communication specialist.

Resources:

  1. National Patient Safety Goals Effective January 2017: Laboratory Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission, 2017: jointcommission.org/assets/1/6/NPSG_Chapter_LAB_Jan2017.pdf
  2. The Dilemma Surrounding Critical Value Reporting: What Does it Take to Improve Communication? Malone, B., Clinical Laboratory News,2012: AACC.org/publications/cln/articles/2012/december/critical-value-reporting.aspx

Engaging Millennial Parents to Increase Well-Child Visits

Scheduling well-child visits can be problematic for young parents. Many don’t know how often to bring in their children or understand the importance of regularly scheduled visits. Regular visits are particularly critical during the first three years of a child’s life to track growth and development, help prevent illness, and allow early intervention when necessary for optimal outcomes.

Text message reminders have become an expected touchpoint for dental appointments, vet visits, car maintenance, and various other services for today’s consumer. But some providers have been slow to engage parents via text to help keep their children on track with recommended care plans.

Millennials, who are accustomed to checking their text messages regularly throughout the day, respond positively to businesses that reach out to them via text. Young parents want the efficiency and convenience of smartphone messaging in most aspects of their lives, including appointment reminders.

See how Park Nicollet utilized PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication functionality to launch a text message appointment reminder program helping new parents more closely adhere to the recommended well-child visit schedule.

Constructing the Program

In 2016, Park Nicollet, part of HealthPartners, a nonprofit healthcare system based in Minnesota, launched a text-message-based reminder program to proactively support young parents in scheduling well-child visits from infancy to late childhood. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends six visits in the first 15 months (Health Plan Employers Data and Information Set [HEDIS] measure), which fits into the broad scope of 12 recommended well-child visits by age three.

To promote parents’ adherence to the advised schedule, our team set five goals aligned with best practices from AAP’s Bright Futures initiative:

  1. Keep children on time for well-child visits.
  2. Prevent missed visits and gaps in care.
  3. Improve the patient and parent experience.
  4. Support Bright Futures—recall and reminder system.
  5. Improve the HEDIS measure.

A program was launched using an algorithm based on birth dates to send text messages at appropriate intervals to parents of children aged two months to 36 months. Instead of waiting to reach out until after appointments were overdue, preemptive texts encouraged parents to schedule before the next well visit, offering a direct link for parents to easily schedule an appointment. The seamless and automatic process allowed Park Nicollet to reclaim precious staff time that was previously used to manage reminders.

Program Structure

Birth to Three Years

A SMS text message is sent to the child’s family or primary caregiver 30 days prior to the next well-child visit,
based on the child’s date of birth. Then, text reminders are only sent if an appointment is not scheduled in the appropriate timeframe.

Three to 10 Years

A text message is sent to the child’s family or primary caregiver two weeks prior to the next well-child visit, based on the date of the child’s last well-child visit. Then, a text reminder is only sent if an appointment is not scheduled in the appropriate timeframe.

Launching the Program

Launching the program with a small patient population (birth to three years) enabled Park Nicollet to see results quickly; early results showed that the text outreach was positive. Patient satisfaction increased among parents, who loved the ease and convenience of the program. Prior to the texting program, patients were seen an average of one month after their recommended well visit. Only three to six months after initiating the text reminder program, the one-month average gap was cut in half, meaning patients were seen closer to AAP recommendations.

Implementing the program on a smaller scale provided an opportunity to identify and address problems before expanding to the larger population. The biggest challenge involved parental consent and whether to design an opt-in or opt-out program. Park Nicollet defaulted to an opt-in program, requiring parents to provide consent to start receiving text reminders. Eventually, this obstacle overcome by training frontline staff to have parents sign consent forms, but the face-to-face process limited enrollment to the parents who were already making and keeping appointments.

Efficient enrollment and expansion required automation and updating of the electronic health record (EHR). Following the EHR integration, enrollment consent was captured in the EHR and parents didn’t need to be present in the office if they had consented to text messaging as their preferred appointment reminder.

With enterprise-wide expansion of PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication to all HealthPartners facilities in 2017, the automated process increased enrollment by over 35,000 and increased well-child visits by 10%. Based on the last reported 12-month period, enterprise-wide enrollment has over 79,000 active patients, which includes HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, and over 43,000 enrolled patients for Park Nicollet alone (see Table 1).

Table 1

Development and Expansion

With expansion of the program to Park Nicollet’s entire clinic care group in 2019, they began using text reminders for well visits for children up to age 10. Future initiatives with the program for Park Nicollet included incorporating additional languages (a sizable subset of HealthPartners patients is non-native-English speaking). In addition, increased enrollment of the millennial population presented opportunities to address various patient population needs—such as:

  • Reminders for flu vaccines and other immunizations.
  • Health metrics monitoring.
  • Checks for postpartum depression.

A Roadmap for Getting Started

Leveraging technology with a trusted and experienced partner enabled the team at Park Nicollet to create a program that worked for patients’ families. Following a digital roadmap, PerfectServe and Park Nicollet worked together to build reports derived from actionable, engaging, timely, and relevant data. Based on these insights, here are five recommendations for implementing a successful texting program:

  1. Partner with a solution that has proven expertise with EMR systems and experience providing reliable, secure communication to patients and their family.
  2. Engage a project champion to guide project design, implementation, effectiveness, expansion, and quality assurance.
  3. Assemble a multidisciplinary team—mobile communication technology partner, EMR vendor, physicians, quality improvement specialists, health information management (HIM), compliance and legal experts, growth strategists, and frontline managers—and solicit input from all stakeholders.
  4. Launch a scaled down program with a small population to identify and address problems before expanding to a larger patient population.
  5. Initiate the process with a mindset of patience. Avoid trying to implement the program hastily and without forethought. This endeavor demands careful preparation to ensure success.

PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication solution gives providers a simple and elegant way to engage directly with patients. From sharing directions to your office before an appointment to checking in with patients post-discharge, text messaging is a quick, effective, and easily automated way to stay connected with any patient population—most of all millennials.[/vc_column_text]

Learn more about how PerfectServe supports patient-provider communication by contacting one of our Clinical Communication Specialists below.

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Comprehensive Clinical Communication to Support Mother-Baby Care Delivery

Nearly four million babies are born per year in the United States.1 Obstetricians, pediatricians, nurses, case managers, discharge coordinators, and various other providers and care teams work to ensure that mothers and babies have optimal solutions for pregnancy, labor, delivery, and child healthcare.

From preconception to parenthood, PerfectServe’s comprehensive communication solutions can help your practice provide top-notch care at every touchpoint of mother and baby’s healthcare journey. Click the image below to download the infographic.

1Births and Natality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm

To learn more about how PerfectServe can support your organization in mother-baby care delivery, contact one of our Clinical Communication Specialists.

Patient Benefits of an Advanced Automated Answering Service Solution

Patient experience is the most important factor when it comes to patient retention at any medical practice. An essential touchpoint to optimize in modern medical practices is to standardize the way your patient calls are handled. The right 24/7 answering service solution can free up valuable provider and staff resources to focus on patient care while reducing unnecessary interruptions and ensuring urgent messages reach the right provider at the right time—every time.

Removing human error and delivering an automated and reliable service for both providers and patients, advanced answering service solutions are being implemented by more and more practices to enhance both patient and provider satisfaction.

Here are just a few key patient benefits of an ideal automated answering service solution:

Less Frustration

Your patients have busy lives but your practice is busy, too. If your practice experiences call volume congestion, your patients still need to be able to reach you without being put on hold. The right answering service solution will differentiate messages based on urgency and use your on-call schedules to accurately route communication to the right provider based on escalation policies set by your practice, speeding time to treatment.

Timely Communication

Efficient practice operations help decrease the time patients spend waiting during appointments and on hold when they call your practice. Automation allows patients to reach your practice at any time, during any circumstances to get the answers and help they need. The best answering service solutions offer smart routing that ensures providers are only interrupted to address urgent requests that require responses in a timely manner.

24/7 Care Access

Although many answering services are only used for after-hours coverage, an automated answering service solution delivers around-the-clock coverage as needed. Just because you don’t see your patients on a 24-hour basis does not mean it shouldn’t be easy for them to manage their appointments and make routine requests such as medication refills whenever they think of them, which might not be during regular office hours. An automated answering service solution can support call volume overflow when the main line at your practice is busy and serve as a 24/7 backup during emergency events when your practice is closed.

Better Onsite Service

Your staff need to be able to do their jobs, but when they face constant interruptions and take on the additional task of call filtering, concentration is broken, efficiency is lost, and providers can become unable to best care for their patients. Implementing the right automated answering service solution can free up your team to focus more on what they do best—patient care.

If providing an excellent patient experience and running an efficient medical practice are priorities for you, an advanced automated answering service solution might be just what the doctor ordered.

Let’s discuss more about how the ideal automated answering service solution can benefit your patients.