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

Building More Efficient Schedules for Academic Hospitals

Schedules in Academic Hospitals

Balance Teaching, Research, and Patient Care

Academic medical centers and teaching hospitals play an important role in the overall health system, but the expanded scope of teaching, research, and patient care means academic hospitals routinely face higher patient care costs than nonteaching hospitals.

Average Inpatient Hospital Cost Per Case1

Hospital Costs Per CaseIn such a competitive financial environment, academic healthcare organizations need a more efficient way to manage resources to ensure they can perform their critical social mission. Because labor costs are at an all-time high—likely accounting for up to 60% of hospital operating budgets2—clinical staffing is one of the most critical areas to monitor when it comes to resource management and utilization. Unfortunately, it’s no easy task.

Provider scheduling has proven to be more difficult in an academic setting.

Provider schedules must be able to balance individual departments’ scheduling requirements, organizational standards, provider preferences, and patient demand. Academic healthcare organizations require schedules that can serve as an anchor to operations, factoring in:

  • The unique needs of individual departments.
  • The overall organization’s objectives and goals.
  • Providers’ scheduling preferences.
  • Patient demand for certain care services.
  • Clinical, teaching, and research responsibilities.
  • Training requirements for residents across specialties.

The responsibility of orchestrating academic schedules falls to schedulers, who spend an average of 291 hours annually turning the above laundry list of requirements into provider schedules—often manually, or with little to no automation. Schedulers work hard building on-call lists, calendars, and schedules that meet their organization’s needs, but it’s not always a feasible task. As the hospitalist team at UNC Health, an academic medical center, grew, their scheduler felt that manually scheduling the department’s providers had become nearly impossible.

“The difficulty was we grew very rapidly. It got to where I was spending so many hours creating the schedule, and it had just gotten so complex that it almost became impossible to create. We have to take into consideration providers’ preferences, the many different services that we have. We also have particular services that only some of our providers can cover, such as the procedure service. There are so many different factors that come into play that have to be considered.”

– Administrative Coordinator, Hospitalist Division, UNC Health

Fortunately, UNC Health managed to streamline the scheduling process with Optimized Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt. Click below to see a video about UNC’s story.

Creating Complex Schedules While Saving Time

An advanced scheduling solution can be instrumental in saving schedulers time as well as creating more effective and efficient schedules. By building out rules that dictate a department’s schedules, schedulers can auto-generate provider schedules and share them globally across their organization to increase schedule visibility and give time back to supporting clinical teams.

“It has allowed me time to do other work besides just scheduling. Scheduling is only a part of what I do.”

Administrative Coordinator, Hospitalist Division, UNC Health

Uncertain how to find a scheduling platform that meets your organization’s needs? Download our new guide, Choosing an Enterprise Scheduling Solution, for a detailed discussion of how rules-based scheduling works and the capabilities you should expect from a scheduling solution.

Efficiently Utilizing Clinical Staff and Resources

In addition to generating significant time savings, an advanced provider scheduling system can also help healthcare organizations better manage their most important resource: clinical staff. Here are four ways an optimized scheduling solution can eliminate excess, cut costs, and increase revenue:

  1. Build schedules that take provider productivity into consideration.
  2. Align provider supply and patient demand to identify and optimize missed revenue opportunities.
  3. Access analytics across shifts, departments, and locations to guide decision making.
  4. Reduce turnover by ensuring shift equity with schedule transparency and provider autonomy over their schedules.

Check out our recent blog post to explore how an advanced optimized scheduling solution can streamline operations and drive efficiency for your organization.

 

Resources:

1. Estimating the Mission-Related Costs of Teaching Hospitals, Project HOPE, Lane Koenig, Allen Dobson, Silver Ho, Jonathan M. Siegel, David Blumenthal, and Joel S. Weissman, Health Affairs—Vol. 22, No. 6—Pages 112-122, November 2003: psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/duty-hours-and-patient-safety
2. Labor Management Trends, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Navigant, Aug. 2018: guidehouse.com/-/media/www/site/insights/healthcare/2018/navigant-hfma-2018-labor-pulse-survey.pdf

Battle Resident Burnout With Better Scheduling

Battle Resident Burnout

Grueling work hours have long been a part of medical training. But growing conversations about resident burnout and well-being, in addition to the impact of unsustainable working hours on patient care, eventually led to a serious revaluation of resident working hours. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) limited working hours for residents to 80 hours per week and no more than 24 consecutive hours.1

So, how can academic healthcare organizations meet the ACGME’s regulations and reduce burnout while providing exceptional practice experiences? Addressing the hours providers work in a given week is a great place to start. Scheduling can play a huge role in promoting resident satisfaction and well-being, which support high-quality patient care.

Five Ways Better Scheduling Can Improve Resident Satisfaction

  1. Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours
  2. Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility
  3. Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests
  4. Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion
  5. Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff

1. Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours

Set scheduling rules that limit weekly work hours and ensure fair shift distribution.

In academic medicine, meeting the 80-hour work week guidelines is even more difficult than it seems. A multitude of scheduling factors—including physicians’ teaching requirements, research duties, and clinical responsibilities—must be considered. As a result, it can be difficult to manually prioritize work limits and shift equity with other scheduling rules.

An advanced scheduling solution can easily accommodate for complex scheduling variables once rules are set to limit work hours and balance providers’ varying responsibilities. What’s more, the system should also have the ability to factor in things like providers’ preferences and ensure that certain shifts, like weekends, nights, and call, are distributed as evenly among providers as possible.

It’s a tall order, right? But essential. The right provider scheduling solution will simplify the schedule complexity required to improve outcomes for academic healthcare organizations. We dive deeper into the capabilities that different types of organizations should expect in our new guide, Choosing an Enterprise Scheduling Solution.

2. Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility

Increase schedule visibility and transparency by centralizing real-time schedules in a single location.

Creating schedules is one thing, but making sure providers can access the latest schedule is another issue altogether. Locating an up-to-date schedule can be a huge source of frustration for providers and it can also have a big impact on patient care. An advanced digital scheduling solution makes the latest schedules from across your organization accessible to providers at any time from any device at any location.

The ability to easily view the schedule across devices not only cuts down on frustration by making it simpler to view the schedule, find and contact the on-call provider, and communicate with colleagues, but it also increases transparency into how schedules are created. For example, if a resident goes on their mobile app to request Friday off and sees that two other team members have already requested that day off, it may be less surprising if the request is denied.

The reporting capabilities available in the scheduling platform should also promote transparency by allowing schedulers to share reports around shift equity, time off requests approval, and more.

3. Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests

Make the processes easy for swapping shifts and requesting time off.

The lack of a simple, standardized process for shift swapping and time-off requests can make it unnecessarily challenging to find the right person to take over a shift when needed. It can also lead residents to swap shifts without letting the proper administrators know, resulting in outdated, inaccurate schedules that delay communication and patient care.

Centralizing shift swapping, time-off requests, and other scheduling requests on a single digital scheduling platform puts the schedule back in provider hands, giving them more autonomy and control over how and when they are scheduled without leaving administrators in the dark.

4. Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion

Quickly auto-generate gap-free schedules so residents can access next month’s schedule today.

Creating schedules can be incredibly time consuming, especially in academic settings. Schedulers often try to balance teaching, research, and patient care with organizational, departmental, and individual provider needs. Resulting time constraints mean that providers often receive their schedules at the last minute, making work-life balance nearly impossible.

An advanced scheduling solution can simplify schedule creation with rules built to meet each team’s unique needs. Different departments within an organization can then auto-generate gap-free schedules built to their specifications, which helps administrators complete and distribute schedules more quickly. Complete schedules are instantly available for care team members and administrators across the organization to access any time.

5. Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff

Free up administrators’ time so they can better support the needs of clinical staff.

Administrators spend roughly 291 hours annually managing provider schedules. For academic facilities with more complex schedules, the number is likely far more. That’s valuable time administrators could spend to better supporting clinical staff.

Jessica Angerman, the Program Coordinator for the Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center Combined Residency Program, says Optimized Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt has created a better culture for residents and administrators alike.

“Our leadership team of program directors and associate program directors really like to foster a good culture between the admin team and leadership and the residents. Lightning Bolt has definitely helped us reach the residents in a more personal way. A lot of the times our administrative team doesn’t get to meet with them one-on-one because they’re so busy. It’s really given us that opportunity to understand where they are day-to-day and what their work includes, and they understand more of what our work includes.”

Jessica Angerman, Program Coordinator, Combined Residency Program, Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center

Watch the full interview with Jessica to learn more.

Increase Resident and Care Team Satisfaction With Better Scheduling

To learn more about how we can support better scheduling at your organization, click below to contact a scheduling specialist.

 

Resources:
1. Duty Hours and Patient Safety, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Patient Safety Network, Sept. 7, 2019: psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/duty-hours-and-patient-safety

The Power of Provider Schedule Visibility

Provider schedule visibility—or lack thereof—has broad impacts on various aspects of patient care. Two top areas that can be improved by making schedules more visible are patient safety and provider satisfaction.

Patient Safety

A review from the Joint Commission reveals that communication failures are at the root of over 70% of sentinel events.1 Often, lapses in clinical communication are caused by the inability of care team members to locate and contact the correct provider, a problem exacerbated by siloed and outdated scheduling systems. If different department call schedules are accessed in different locations across the organization and providers are expected to go through different processes for each department, dangerous delays in communication are inevitable.

A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality refers to the time care team members spend attempting—but failing—to contact the correct provider as “problematic time.” According to the study, many communication events include time spent searching for information, identifying the appropriate provider, or searching for accurate contact information.

On average, problematic time consisted of 10-40% of total communication time.1 To eliminate problematic time, schedules must make it easy to quickly locate and contact the correct provider.

“To be able to see who is the surgeon that’s going to be taking this case, who’s the radiologist on call, who’s the infectious disease provider on call—all at a glance—that just has huge value to an organization for patient safety and workflow efficiency.”

– Dr. Corey Joekel, Chief Medical Information Officer, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Omaha, Optimized Provider Scheduling Client

Smart organizations improve speed to care and reduce medical errors with one digital scheduling solution that offers the latest schedules and provider contact information for all departments at the touch of a button. An accessible solution also integrates real-time schedules with other essential systems, like the EHR, call center software, and clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions.

Modern provider schedules that are centralized, easily visible, and always up to date make connecting with the right provider much quicker and easier, eliminating delays and streamlining patient care.

Provider Satisfaction

Inefficient and varying processes for locating the on-call provider can be a huge source of dissatisfaction for physicians, care team members, and administrators, contributing to increased turnover.1 A lack of schedule transparency is a frustrating issue that inhibits your staff’s perception of shift fairness, impedes their ability to collaborate quickly, and brings down their overall satisfaction at work. It’s easy to understand why…

A provider who cannot access a full view of the schedule is more likely to get the misconception that a coworker is getting “better” shifts than one who can easily pull up the full team schedule. Perceived unfairness leads to frustration, friction, and dissatisfaction. As provider dissatisfaction spreads, schedulers become overwhelmed with schedule complaints and shift change requests. In the absence of a scheduling solution that is easy to access, edit, and share, schedule changes increasingly pull schedulers away from other important tasks.

The vicious cycle repeats itself in teams that lack schedule visibility, leading to burnout and turnover.

With the cost to replace a physician ranging from $500,000-1 million2, healthcare organizations stand to lose thousands, even millions, of dollars annually in turnover.

Investing in better provider scheduling can save big money in the long run.

Better Scheduling Transparency Improves Healthcare

Ensuring provider shift and on-call schedules are easily accessible across your organization can dramatically increase both patient safety and provider satisfaction by improving healthcare operations.

Want proof? Optimized Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt helped UK Healthcare’s Hospitalist Department decrease the time to contact the on-call provider by 86.5%.

Contact one of our Clinical Scheduling Specialists today to learn how Optimized Provider Scheduling can drive results for your organization.

Resources:

  1. Improving Patient Safety Through Provider Communication Strategy Enhancements, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Dingley C., et al., Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches – Vol. 3, Aug. 2008: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43663/
  2. Please don’t go: ways to reduce physician turnover, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Sep. 20, 2018: mgma.com/data/data-stories/please-don-t-go-ways-to-reduce-physician-turnover#:~:text=According%20to%20Christine%20Sinsky%2C%20MD,costs%20by%20reducing%20physician%20turnover

Manage Patient Surge with Advanced Provider Scheduling

Patient Surge: Meet Demand with Optimized Provider Scheduling

A key part of any emergency preparedness plan is ensuring patients have access to the care they need—when they need it! During any widespread emergency or disaster, every healthcare organization—whether it’s a small local practice or a large health system—must ensure it has the tools in place to meet unexpected patient surge. One of the most important tools for responding to rising patient demand during a crisis: an advanced provider scheduling solution.

Ensure Patient Access by Responding in Real Time

Unpredictable circumstances call for quick responses. An advanced provider scheduling solution enables an organization of any size to respond to unexpected patient surge in real time. Let’s walk through an example.

A natural disaster occurs near Central Hospital, a medium-sized acute care facility. The emergency department is not adequately staffed to meet the increase in patient demand. The department’s administrator launches the scheduling solution and sends a communication to all the department providers not already working to request additional coverage. When providers accept, they are immediately added to the schedule so they can report to the emergency department to provide coverage. The ability to make these quick changes might mean that a patient who otherwise would have had to wait longer due to overwhelmed clinical staff can now get the urgent care they need at the right time.

In addition to providing administrators the ability to communicate with clinical staff, an advanced scheduling solution also enables providers to easily communicate with administrators if emergency circumstances prevent them from being able to cover a shift. Instead of sending emails back and forth to colleagues and administrators trying to find shift coverage, providers can simply send a shift swap request to all available colleagues from the mobile application in less than a minute. When a colleague accepts the request, the change is reflected in real time for all team members to see.

Increase Visibility Across Locations and Departments

In a crisis, visibility into who is working where is key. Without a centralized scheduling solution, healthcare organizations lack both a single source of truth for evaluating staffing needs across locations/departments and the ability to quickly enact staffing changes.

For a hospital, enhanced visibility allows administrators and clinical leaders to ensure adequate staffing across several departments. For example, at a northern California hospital preparing for seasonal wildfires, administrators can evaluate coverage to ensure contingent departments, like the emergency department and the burn unit, have an adequate number of scheduled providers to respond to incoming wildfire injuries.

This level of visibility also enables health systems and multi-site group practices to evaluate staffing needs across all in-network locations in order to meet patient demand. For example—a multi-site group pediatric practice may offer weekend visits with exclusive hours at a specific practice location during flu season; with enhanced visibility administrators can predict weekend shift coverage needs and equitably allocate the appropriate amount of clinical staff to that specific location based on patient demand.

Enhance Communication & Collaboration Workflows

Particularly for a hospital or health system, improved schedule transparency not only allows leaders to make informed staffing decisions, but also empowers care teams to better communicate and collaborate. Collaboration between different specialty departments or providers across locations is essential during an emergency response.

For example:

During a surge in patient admission to the hospitalist department, an administrator makes a request for additional hospitalist coverage. As additional coverage is required, it is essential the coverage updates to the schedule are accessible to all care team members in real time, assuring your team the right messages are delivered to the right provider at the right time. With a scheduling solution, you ensure schedule changes are visible in real time, so your staff can easily contact the correct providers quickly—launching a call, text, or email to a provider directly from the application.

Ensure Ample Coverage in Any Crisis with an Agile Scheduling Solution—Launched in Just 48 Hours

The benefits of a scheduling solution for emergency preparedness are wide-ranging, but scheduling solutions can take up to three months to implement. Need an immediate scheduling solution to prepare your organization for patient surge? Learn more about our Rapid Surge Scheduling solution which is ready to launch just 48 hours.

Optimized Scheduling Drives Hospitalist Satisfaction

31% of hospitalists are not satisfied with their schedules.

Today’s Hospitalist 2019 Career & Compensation Survey reveals that hospitalists are unsatisfied with their schedules, citing a lack of flexibility, inability to take vacation, and inequitable distributions of shifts like weekend and call.1 Other top complaints included burnout, administrative tasks, and an overwhelming patient census.

One root cause of these issues? Ineffective provider scheduling.

Learn how optimized scheduling can increase hospitalist satisfaction at your organization by incorporating provider preferences, simplifying scheduling workflows, and aligning provider supply with patient demand. Click the image below to download the infographic.

To learn more about how PerfectServe can support better hospitalist scheduling at your organization, click below to contact one of our Scheduling Specialists.

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Resources:
1. Today’s Hospitalist 2019 Career & Compensation Survey: todayshospitalist.com/salary-survey-results/

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How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

A traditional waiting room can be a melting pot for germs and bacteria. Learn how a virtual waiting room protects patients and staff by reducing their risk of exposure to infection. Possible side effects: more pleasant patient-provider encounters, increased patient and provider satisfaction, better adherence to social distancing best practices, and improved overall outcomes.

May 2020, 90% of patients globally reported that the quality of care was as good or better with the recent surge in virtual care than care quality before COVID-19.1

What is a “virtual waiting room”?

If you’ve been out to eat at a restaurant in the past few years, you may have noticed a change in the experience of waiting for a table. Rather than asking you to stay within earshot while you wait, today’s hostess will likely request your cell phone number and offer to text you when your table is ready.

The text-to-table process makes the entire experience feel more personal, comfortable, and customer-centric. That’s because waiting is less unpleasant when you are free to do what you want—where you want—until the moment your turn arrives. Now, the same experience has become essential in healthcare to minimize patient discomfort and protect public safety with social distancing.

A virtual waiting room (aka mobile waiting room, zero-contact waiting room, or curbside check-in) is a service that allows patients to check in using their mobile phone and notifies them through a direct text message when it is their turn to be seen by the doctor.

An ideal virtual waiting room serves two essential purposes:

  1. Giving in-person patients the freedom to wait for their turn privately in their car or wherever they choose, rather than being confined to a stuffy, crowded waiting room and risking exposure to new germs and potential illness.
  2. Facilitating a smooth check-in process for telehealth visits.

Both purposes improve the patient experience and encourage healthy practices.

Why are virtual waiting rooms essential for in-person patient visits?

31% of patients say they are uncomfortable visiting a doctor’s office and 42% are uncomfortable visiting a hospital.2

Traditional waiting rooms that require patients to touch shared surfaces and breathe shared air are both uncomfortable and unsafe in the current environment. Virtual waiting rooms serve the important health purpose of enabling social distancing, and they also enhance the patient experience.

Unlike a traditional waiting room, a virtual waiting room reduces the risk of patients (and staff) associating your organization with frustrating factors beyond your control, which may include pesky sounds, smells, other people, and even boredom. As demand rises for a safer, more comfortable healthcare experience, virtual waiting rooms are the key to getting patients in the door while increasing their odds of leaving satisfied.

How can virtual waiting rooms apply to video visits?

Ideally, the same virtual solution used to help manage in-person patient visits can be adapted to also queue up video visits, allowing providers and patients to indicate when they are ready.

What’s the best way to implement a virtual waiting room?

In short, work with what you’ve got. If you have a patient engagement solution that can also facilitate a virtual waiting room and video visits, talk to your vendor about the next steps for launching a virtual waiting room.

If you do not have a solution for two-way texting or video visits with patients, or if you are looking for a replacement/upgrade to your current system, focus on finding a solution that can do the following:

  • Automated Appointment Reminders to Patients
  • Pre-Appointment and Pre-Arrival Instructions to Patients
  • Patient Arrival Notification via Simple Text
  • Entry Notification and Office Navigation Guidance
  • HIPAA-Compliant Video Connection
  • Scheduled and On-the-Fly Video Visits
  • Connect Without Requiring App Downloads or Passwords
  • Caller ID Protection for Providers
  • 24/7 Connection

Here’s a streamlined patient experience with an organization using all of the above capabilities:

Key Benefits of an Integrated Virtual Waiting Room

Virtual waiting rooms are extremely beneficial to patients, staff, and organizations that implement them, especially when they are integrated with other patient engagement solutions, such as video visits and HIPAA-compliant messaging.

Some of the top benefits include:

  • Patient Protection and Safety
  • Increased Patient Satisfaction
  • Reduced Frustration for Patients and Staff
  • Efficient Patient Intake
  • Reduced No-Shows

 

Get Started Now to See Benefits Sooner

Give your patients a safer, easier solution for maintaining their healthcare with a user-friendly, integrated virtual waiting room. To see how it works, click below.

Resources:

  1. Virtual care here to stay, PharmaTimes, Brad Michel, Jul. 21, 2020: pharmatimes.com/web_exclusives/Virtual_care_here_to_stay_1345204
  2. Breakdown of Changes in Consumers’ Health Care Behavior During COVID-19—INFOGRAPHIC, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), May 21, 2020: achp.org/research-breakdown-of-changes-in-consumers-health-care-behavior-during-covid-19