Nurses of Note Awards 2022: The Mother-Daughter Duo at Mount Sinai Health System

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication to their patients. In the second year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe wants to shine a light on the integrity, perseverance, and compassion that nurses so regularly display in the course of caring for patients.

The incredible stories of these honorees paint a pretty clear picture of the people who populate this noble profession, and their experiences offer just a glimpse into the many ways they make the world a better place. Of the 200-plus nominations PerfectServe received, we selected a group of providers to spotlight during the month of May—which, of course, is home to National Nurses Week—and throughout the rest of 2022.

Honoree 2: Dina Bressler, RN, and Toby Bressler, Senior Director of Nursing for Oncology at Mount Sinai Health System (New York, NY)

At just seven years old, Dina Bressler knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her mother, Toby Bressler, turned a passion for the field of nursing into an exemplary career, outlining what it means to work in a profession that makes a real difference in the lives of others. It was settled: Dina would be a nurse, just like her mother.

Toby Bressler said she followed an unusual career trajectory for an Orthodox Jewish woman. She enrolled as a nursing student at a community college in 2004 while heavily pregnant with her seventh child. Toby was driven by her lifelong dream of “tikun olam,” a Hebrew saying that means “healing the world.” She wanted to improve health equity in her own community and beyond. In turn, her dream encouraged her daughter to follow the same pathway. Today, both Dina and Toby serve as nurses at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

As with many intergenerational nurses, Dina was driven by the actions and passions of her mother. Dina watched Toby care for patients as if they were her own family, saying this taught her much about the empathy and compassion she has for her patients today. As a result, Dina chose to join the Skin Savers team at Mount Sinai Health System, where she received a certification from the WOCN Society as a registered Wound Treatment Associate (WTA). She enjoys alleviating the suffering of her patients who have clinically avoidable skin conditions. She also takes great pride in serving a largely geriatric population and feels passionate about being a voice for those who often cannot represent themselves. Dina credits her mother for instilling these values and skills in her.

For other lessons, Dina had to wait for real-world experience. She graduated nursing school in June of 2020 and learned a lot while serving at the height of the pandemic. She learned a great deal about strength and resiliency and said the pandemic taught her the importance of being a light for others in a time of bleakness. She also learned to see the good in tragic situations, saying that COVID-19 did bring people together in unimaginable ways.

Though the mother and daughter pair do not actively work together at Mount Sinai Health System, they have had many opportunities to team up for research and other projects. Dina and Toby see themselves as a dynamic duo at work and at home, and each says they learn from the other’s perspectives and experiences. Dina shared one of her favorite Shakespeare quotes that summarizes why she and her mother serve as nurses every day: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

Thank You

Dina and Toby, thank you for sharing your stories and for inspiring one another to be the best nurses you can be. It’s heartwarming to see how the actions of a mother were so inspiring that becoming a nurse was a foregone conclusion for her daughter. Thank you both for finding your gift and—most importantly—sharing it with others. You are both greatly appreciated by your coworkers, patients, family, friends, and the team here at PerfectServe.

Q&A

In addition to learning about their passion for nursing, we posed a few additional questions to this mother-daughter team:

Why did you choose to become a nurse?
Dina Bressler: I graduated from nursing school in June of 2020, and I always knew I wanted to be a nurse! Growing up and watching my mother become the nurse she is today has always been an inspiration for me.

What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving throughout the pandemic?
Toby Bressler: We (the healthcare community) are all in the same boat and hopefully rowing in the same direction! The pandemic was an opportunity for nurses to lead, innovate, and advance changes in healthcare delivery. The artificial boundaries to nursing practice are more permeable than we thought. Nurses are “boundary spanners!”

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?
Dina Bressler: The hardest part about being a nurse isn’t the schooling or training; it’s the actual role of being a nurse. The hours are long and the days are sometimes taxing and stressful. But, despite all that, the positive impact that a nurse has on their patients and those around them makes it all worth it.

What do you do to relax after a stressful day?
Toby Bressler: I enjoy spending time with my children and grandchildren! I also enjoy swimming and delving into a good book. It’s important to have a support system and fulfillment outside of work.

What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?
Dina Bressler: In the future, I would love to see nurses have a larger role in executive decisions in healthcare. While the healthcare system and nursing field are constantly evolving, there is still a lot of positive change that can happen. I believe that nurses can and should be a part of that.

Toby Bressler: In the near future, I would like to see the development of a nursing agenda that will advance and close the gaps in health equity and social justice. In particular, I would like to see full practice authority for Advanced Practice Nurses in every state across the United States. We aren’t doing ourselves or our patients any favors with restrictive practice barriers.

Make sure to follow our blog as we publish in-depth profiles about more of our deserving Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year.

For more about Nurses of Note 2022, check out the full list of winners.

Nurses of Note Awards 2022: The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their remarkable resilience and unwavering dedication to their patients. In the second year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe wants to shine a light on the integrity, perseverance, and compassion that nurses so regularly display in the course of caring for patients.

The incredible stories of these honorees paint a pretty clear picture of the people who populate this noble profession, and their experiences offer just a glimpse into the many ways they make the world a better place. Of the 200-plus nominations PerfectServe received, we selected a group of providers to spotlight during the month of May—which, of course, is home to National Nurses Week—and throughout the rest of 2022.

Honoree 1: The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health (Charlotte, NC) — Tracy Zeigler, Taleba Morrison, and Leigh Barnhill

The Nurse Informatics Team at Mecklenburg County Public Health works to create strategic and innovative solutions in just about every department within the Public Health purview. A large part of a small system, Tracy Zeigler, Taleba Morrison, and Leigh Barnhill power the train that steers many Public Health decisions for Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team supports operations within the Public Health system, supporting over 300 employees between Clinical Services, Ancillary Services, School Health, and Trauma & Justice Partnerships. Their work directly impacts community health in areas like Environmental Health, Communicable Diseases, Community Health, School Health, Immunization Clinics, Clinic Operations in Family Planning, and more.

But Tracy, Taleba, and Leigh are not just liaisons for the Public Health department. Officially, they are all Nurse Informaticists, and they work to improve the health of local communities while reducing system costs. These three women perform many duties, including analyzing workflows, facilitating EMRs and other technology training, translating program requirements into operational terms, and working with policies and people to evaluate new initiatives. Individually, Taleba works to facilitate EMR and Preventative Health training, while Tracy’s role supports clinical policies and operations like staff training and job development. Leigh’s role primarily involves School Health, but she also helps troubleshoot issues for staff in the field. 

Throughout the pandemic, the work these women performed single-handedly ensured that COVID-19 data for the entire county was properly tracked and traced. Tracy, Leigh, and Taleba focused on entering data that pertained to COVID-19, as well as developing other tools and protocols to keep the state informed and up to date. They created an EMR to track and contact those who had tested positive for the virus, ran outbreak reports and managed the state database for their county, and even trained hundreds of temporary and reassigned team members to meet the demand for care and vaccination needs. They also rolled out an appointment scheduling platform to streamline vaccination appointments for frontline medical staff and first responders, which was eventually opened to the public based on their vaccination priority status. As if all of this weren’t enough, they also worked with an immunization program to determine how many doses were needed each day and carefully managed the limited vaccine supply without wasting any doses.

Notably, this team trained the National Guard in data entry practices to report accurate numbers to the state. They also devised an electronic and physical storage system for documentation and developed a data dashboard to analyze case counts, transmission rates, mortality demographics, breakthrough cases, and potential outbreaks in Mecklenburg County. Their diligence and work have expanded well past the borders of Mecklenburg County. Nominator Jonathan Ong summarized their work and roles by saying these three women are “clinical, technical, and all-around public health superheroes!”

Thank You

Tracy, Taleba, and Leigh, your dedication to multiple areas that impact public health is deeply appreciated by your colleagues, your community, and the team here at PerfectServe. We thank you for your selfless excellence, and we wish you the best in your continued efforts to make Mecklenburg County—and the people in it—safer and more connected.

Q&A

In addition to learning about their jobs and the many ways they support public health in their home county, we posed a few additional questions to this dynamic team:

Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

Tracy Ziegler: I always knew I would be in a healing profession, but I chose nursing because I knew I wanted to have diversity and variety in my workplace. I believedand still believethat nursing is one of the best professions to grow and be challenged in.

What is the biggest lesson you learned while serving throughout the pandemic? 

Tracy Ziegler: I learned the value of remaining fluid and flexible during rapidly evolving change.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?

Leigh Barnhill: I would give myself this advice: Your empathy may be challenging in stressful situations, but it is a gift.

What do you do to relax after a stressful day? 

Taleba Morrison: After a long day, I like to listen to motivational commentary, play jazz music, and exercise! These things help me relax and unwind after particularly stressful days.

What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?

Taleba Morrison and Leigh Barnhill: We hope to see a more balanced workload, a decrease in nursing shortages, better nurse-to-patient ratios, and for the profession to be respected on a higher level. We also hope to see an increase in people joining the nursing profession who truly love helping others.

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

“Under Pressure” by Queen (Leigh Barnhill), “She Works Hard for the Money” by Donna Summers (Tracy Ziegler), and “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers (Taleba Morrison)

Make sure to follow our blog as we publish in-depth profiles about more of our amazing Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year.

For more about Nurses of Note 2022, check out the full list of winners.

Improving patient satisfaction and care with better communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faster Clinical Response Times

Critical Lab Results

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

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

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

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

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

Specialty Consult Requests

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

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

Sepsis Notifications

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

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

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

Rapid Response Teams

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

Staff Response Times

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

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

Reducing Readmissions

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

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

Better Communication, Better Care

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

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

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

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign lasting the month of October, is intended to increase global awareness of breast cancer. In several countries the month-long campaign is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The first organized effort to bring widespread attention to breast cancer occurred as a weeklong event in the United States in October 1985, founded by the American Cancer Society and the Imperial Chemical Industries Pharmaceuticals (later part of AstraZeneca). Since then, campaigns to increase awareness of the disease, to educate people about methods of prevention and early detection, and to raise money to support research have extended to countries around the world. Today, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and medical societies work together to promote breast cancer awareness.

Globally, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women. In 2018, more than two million new cases were reported worldwide. Of all regions worldwide, North America has the highest incidence of breast cancer, and, overall, new cases of the disease are diagnosed more frequently in countries in developed regions of the world, such as North America and Europe.

The major international symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the color pink. In the 1990s, the pink ribbon stood as the primary emblem of support. However, the color pink is used in a variety of ways, including on clothing, posters, and internet websites, to demonstrate individual and collective awareness of breast cancer.

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.

How Virtual Waiting Rooms Help Patient Satisfaction & Safety

Virtual Waiting Rooms

Traditional waiting rooms complicate patient visits in two important ways:

  1. They increase patient discomfort, emphasizing the waiting process.
  2. They are a melting pot for germs and bacteria, increasing risk of exposure to infection.

A virtual waiting room, on the other hand, minimizes discomfort while protecting patients and staff by reducing their risk of exposure to illness, benefits brought to the forefront during COVID-19. Possible side effects of a virtual waiting room include more pleasant patient encounters, increased provider and patient satisfaction, and improved health outcomes.

May 2020, 90% of patients globally reported that care quality during surges in virtual care was as good or better than care quality prior to COVID-19.

What is a virtual waiting room?

If you’ve been out to eat at a restaurant in the past few years, even pre-pandemic, 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.

The Purpose of a Virtual Waiting Room in Healthcare

An ideal virtual waiting room can serve two purposes:

  1. Giving in-person patients the freedom to wait for their turn privately in their car—or wherever they choose—rather than confining them to a stuffy, crowded waiting room alongside new germs and potential infections.
  2. Facilitating a smooth check-in process for telehealth visits.

Both purposes improve the patient experience and encourage healthy practices.

Risks of Traditional Waiting Rooms

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

Traditional waiting rooms that require patients to touch shared surfaces and breathe shared air are beyond uncomfortable—they can be unsafe. Virtual waiting rooms enable social distancing to support a better patient experience and better outcomes.

Another risk tied to traditional waiting rooms involves staff and patient satisfaction. What if your patients and staff begin to correlate your organization with frustrating environmental factors beyond your control? A virtual waiting room helps you prevent your healthcare organization from being associated with pesky sounds, smells, people, and boredom that can easily be avoided.

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?

Video visits are another great way to prevent unnecessary exposure to illness. Organizations looking to implement both video visits and a virtual waiting room should talk to their vendors about integration. Ideally, the same virtual solution used to help manage in-person patient visits can be adapted to also queue up video appointments, allowing providers and patients to indicate when they are ready.

What’s the best way to launch 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 your 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:

Virtual Waiting Room Patient Journey

Key Benefits of a 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:

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

Improve Patient Outcomes With Better Engagement

Explore new ways to communicate most effectively with your patients with our white paper, Engaging Patients and Their Family Members – Texting to Support Value-Based Care and Better Outcomes.

Sources:

  1. Virtual care here to stay, PharmaTimes, Brad Michel, Jul. 21, 2020: pharmatimes.com/web_exclusives/Virtual_care_here_to_stay_1345204
  1. 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

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Four

 

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

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

Honoree 4: Chief Operating Officer Erica Johnson and the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, Hampton Roads Community Health Center (Portsmouth, VA)

Erica Johnson and her team at the Hampton Roads Community Health Center (HRCHC) are not just nurses—they are educators, community liaisons, and friends to the people of Portsmouth, VA. This team of five nurses, dubbed the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, worked with unwavering resolve to serve the underserved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Their names are Nicol Franklin, LPN; Daira Person, MA; Lawona Smith, RN, BSN; and Shaye Spellman, LPN. As Chief Operating Officer, Erica (who has been with HRCHC for 14 years) is the spokesperson for the team and shared how the facility had to adapt to continue providing the quality care they always strive for.

HRCHC is a federally funded, non-profit care center. Erica and her team serve an underserved population and pride themselves on being a “one-stop-shop” for “cradle to grave” care for those who would not normally have routine, accessible healthcare resources. As early as March 2020, the HRCHC was one of the first testing sites in the area for COVID-19. Dr. Vladimir Markovic, HRCHC’s Chief Medical Officer, implemented the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, and Erica led the team through 11- to 12-hour shifts, sometimes five to six days a week. The team updated their COVID-19 policies every weekend, adjusting to keep pace with the rapid flow of information and new understanding about the virus.

As a community health center, HRCHC couldn’t afford to stop primary and general care—the needs of the community didn’t cease to exist simply because COVID-19 was around. Erica and her team were able to continue seeing regular patients thanks to their rigorous attention to detail with infection control best practices. They were able to screen people and see regular patients as well as provide triage care over the phone. Amazingly, they had no in-house COVID infections thanks to their diligence.

As soon as the vaccine became available, HRCHC was one of the first vaccination locations in the area. But, as you might expect, they didn’t stop at just vaccinating those who came to their center—they also provided transportation to the clinic. They carried out community outreach and education about vaccination for those who were scared or nervous. Erica and her team acted as community liaisons, taking federal updates and translating them to make them more digestible for the people they serve. Erica’s team prioritized their outreach to the most vulnerable, striving to educate and encourage conversations about vaccination to alleviate hesitancy among their patients.

The Hampton Roads Community Health Center’s nominator wrote this about Erica and her team: “The due diligence and resiliency of HRCHC’s COVID-19 nursing team are undeniable, as they continue to be a living embodiment of our mission: serving as frontline, healthcare safety net professionals, delivering much-needed, accessible, quality healthcare to tens of thousands throughout the Hampton Roads region.”

What is one positive thing you and your team learned from COVID-19?

The team learned the value of talking and listening to people; in a pandemic, every vulnerability, every concern—everything was heightened. Heightened apprehension, depression, and anxiety. It made every word that everyone said potentially critical. We also learned that creating a learning environment is important. We realized that nobody knows anything when we’re supposed to know everything!

What was your team’s outreach strategy to encourage vaccination?

The most significant thing we’re doing is asking, “Why?” Everyone has their own reason for being skeptical. We approached the vaccines from an unbiased point of view and encouraged conversations around it. Once we talked to people about the vaccine and why it works in general terms, then we’d ask, “So do you want the vaccine?”

If you had to think of a word to describe the work your team has done during the pandemic, what would your work be?

Relentless … resilient. There have been so many challenges and barriers where we could have stopped. But for so many people, we are the only healthcare outlet they have. We couldn’t stop. We had to persevere.

What is your advice for new nurses coming into the field?

Do not expect anything particular; appreciate everything that happens, even the challenges. There’s no facet of healthcare that can’t utilize nursing in some capacity. Be open to different experiences. All of your patients are important, everyone is valuable, and everyone has something that makes them unique. Even COVID has made us stronger providers and practitioners of caring and healing. Always focus on the healing component of nursing.

Thank you, Erica, and the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team at Hampton Roads Community Health Center!

Erica, your team’s service to the Portsmouth community has been impressive, honorable, and inspiring. Thank you for your dedication to underserved communities and for leading a relentless and resilient team!

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Three

 

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

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

Honoree 3: Missam “Sam” Merchant, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRN, PCCN, RN-BC, NE-BC; Hospital Supervisor for University Health System (San Antonio, TX)

Missam Merchant—who goes by Sam—wanted to be a doctor at a young age. His family could not afford that educational path, but Sam still found his way to a career in healthcare; nurses were needed in the United States, so his family agreed that nursing school would be his best bet. In school, he realized he could change the world by helping one person at a time, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Sam’s nominator described him as someone who shows humanity to every patient regardless of identity or background. He started to appreciate the impact he could have on the lives of others after providing care for a homeless man facing diabetic complications during nursing school. Since that moment, Sam has been utterly dedicated to helping his community and those who are underserved. In the past two years, he spearheaded many campaigns and fundraisers that provided donations for the homeless. He has conducted fundraising to the tune of more than $16,000 for blankets, hygiene kits, and more to support the homeless population and many shelters in San Antonio.

Even though it’s not what drives him, Sam is no stranger to recognition for the services he provides to his patients and coworkers—he has received many awards for his work. To name a few: The Weezie’s Angel Healthcare Hero Award, Best 25 Nurses of South Central Texas, and the 20 for 2020 Nurse Award (given by the Texas Nursing Association). As a leader, speaker, coach, and mentor, Sam is also a major proponent of higher learning and continued education.

Even with the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, Sam was still able to help launch the San Antonio Indian Nurses Association (SAINA), a not-for-profit organization with over 300 nurse members intended to serve as “a professional body and resource for all licensed professional nurses of Indian descent/origin and heritage” in the United States. In fact, in the past year alone, he has given speeches, served as a mentor, submitted journals for publication, and founded not one, but two organizations. He also works to give free certifications to nurses in leadership and professional development (he’s taught 17 classes this year), equipping them with the training needed to move the needle on healthcare and education policy at the county and state levels.

A true advocate for diversity in nursing, education, and leadership, Sam is active in many diversity-centered associations and boards. He serves as president for SAINA, director for the Asian American Alliance of San Antonio (AAASA), is a member of the governing board for the National Association of Indian Nurses of America (NAINA), and is involved with many others. Sam provides safe and educational forums for nurses to collaborate on practices and how to best serve their communities.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Nursing fell into my lap in India in 2003. I had a light bulb moment when I took care of a homeless patient who suffered from severe diabetes and had not received foot care for a year. I treated this patient, and at the end of the procedure, he gave me 10 rupees—the equivalent of about 14 cents. I realized how much impact I had on this one patient, who felt cared for and loved and was willing to give me his most valuable possession in return. 15 years later, I am proud and humbled to be a nurse who can continue to make a difference in patients’ lives.

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

Right from the beginning of your career, find a mentor who you can trust. The mentor will help you see things that you cannot see for yourself and will help to motivate you through feelings of burnout. Nursing is not easy; it requires ongoing learning, hard work, commitment, and selfless service.

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

The future of nursing is bright. Nurses are fighting for safe staffing, better access to care, and a healthy environment—both for themselves and for their patients. I want to see two things in the future of nursing: greater diversity and leadership. Diversity, equity, and leadership in nursing is the key to sustainability. The ability to compassionately care for our communities is the wave of the future.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

Burnout is real, but it’s seldom addressed by leadership and often ignored by nurses themselves. It then manifests itself in poor care, poor relationships, and broken homes. There are three levels to curbing personal and group burnout: Organization, microsystem, and personal. The organization level is a commitment from senior management to acknowledge burnout and put prevention measures in place. The microsystem level focuses on your team and team leader understanding workflow as a whole—how that workflow can lead to burnout when not managed well or when things are not adjusted when needed. This level can be managed by staffing correctly, promoting teamwork, creating acuity plans, and other leadership and organizational work. The personal level is an inward look at being mindful of when we are feeling burnout. Know the signs your body gives, know how to take mental health breaks, and know how to separate work and home life.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

Working for non-profit organizations and impacting lives. I have been involved with various non-nursing organizations that are involved in early childhood education, alliance for minorities, and others. These organizations have made a big impact on my community.

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

“Firework” by Katy Perry. I am a nurse that believes in empowerment; inspiring the next generation of nurses to not give up and to push through to make a difference. Everyone is unique, and everyone needs to be able to shine in nursing and life.

Thank you, Sam!

Sam, through your commitment and dedication, you certainly light up other peoples’ lives—just like a firework. Thank you for your continued service to your patients, your fellow nurses, and your community, and congratulations for being named a 2021 Nurse of Note.

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Two

 

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

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

Honoree 2: Vera Hall, SVP/Chief Nursing Executive for St. Elizabeth Healthcare (Cincinnati, OH Area)

In the fourth grade, Vera Hall wrote that nursing was her dream profession. Her older sister told wonderful stories about her time in nursing school, and it made Vera want to help people in their time of need. As it turns out, that dream never faded. Vera now serves as the SVP and Chief Nursing Executive at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in the Cincinnati area, and she has amassed more than 26 years of experience in the field.

Vera’s service throughout the pandemic can best be described as proactive, innovative, and transparent. Before the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was fully realized, Vera took immediate and strategic action to designate one of the five St. Elizabeth Healthcare facilities as a COVID-19 facility. She then worked vigilantly with supply and management teams to purchase 30 HEPA filter fans and to convert over 160 patient rooms to negative pressure rooms.

Vera’s perceptive planning didn’t stop there. She deployed the Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT) to provide comprehensive care for patients with COVID-19, protecting both patients and healthcare workers. She then expanded the IDRT team from 50 to 400 associates—an 800% increase—when the pandemic continued to intensify.

To protect the jobs of many coworkers, Vera also implemented a Surge Staffing office, placing associates and healthcare workers where additional staff were needed instead of furloughing them or eliminating their jobs. Workers were able to call Vera’s Surge Staffing office to receive shifts and help alleviate some of the pressure caused by high case numbers. Due to Vera’s novel and proactive approach, no St. Elizabeth associate was furloughed or laid off.

Vera collaborated with many local health departments, colleges, educators, healthcare facilities, and others during the height of the pandemic and as vaccines became available. Innovative solutions during times of peak case numbers included manual proning beds for improved oxygenation of patients, iPads for patient communication with families, cameras in rooms for remote patient monitoring, and expanded telemetry monitoring capacity as need arose. Vera also worked to onboard 33 retired nurses to assist with vaccinating the public.

Vera has been intensely dedicated to her facility and team during the pandemic. She visited nursing units day and night to provide much-needed support for nurses and other staff. Vera made sure to provide timely COVID-19 communication to keep all St. Elizabeth associates safe and informed over the past 14 months, and she continues to do so today.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

In the fourth grade, I had a class assignment to write an autobiography that included my dream profession; I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a nurse. My sister was in nursing school, and I had always looked up to her; hearing her stories and experiences really inspired me. I wanted to help people in their time of need and make their patient experience as personal as possible. I followed this career pursuit and have never looked back. This career has been an absolute blessing to both me and my family.

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

First and foremost, embrace every moment and experience. Some days will feel longer than others. No matter what type of day or challenge you have, there will always be something new to learn. Nurses are trusted, valued members of the healthcare team, and this has never been more evident than it is today. Your success will continue to grow as you remain open to new experiences and new ways of doing things. Support your peers who are entering the profession, prioritize your health and wellness, and above all, always remember why you decided to become a nurse!

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

Even prior to the pandemic, demands in the nursing profession had intensified due to a high volume of nurses retiring in the last decade and a patient population that is more and more composed of aging individuals. In addition, we’re experiencing physician shortage nationwide. We are seeing nurse practitioners practicing independently in a greater capacity. That said, we need to continue to offer more nursing education options—whether that be online or for specialized areas of nursing—so that these growing healthcare demands can be satisfied.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

As a young nurse leader, I was not the best example of managing a work-life balance. I eventually learned to leave work at work so I could fully embrace my life outside of it. I value time with my husband and family, though at times work crosses over into my personal life (especially over this past year). I have been doing a better job of disconnecting; whether it be through travel or simply reading a book, I can allow my mind to rest, which is the best way I can manage burnout.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

I absolutely love the beach—it’s always on the top of my travel list. The laid-back atmosphere, smells of the water and air, and beautiful natural sights and scenery; the overall environment is so relaxing.

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

The song “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson Five!

Thank you, Vera!

Vera’s nominator described her as someone who “lives for others.” It’s an apt testament, because her unwavering efforts and focus on readiness over the past 14 months have likely saved lives in her community. From the entire team at PerfectServe, thanks for the work you do every day, and congratulations for being named a 2021 Nurse of Note.

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week One

 

Nurses of Note Yoji Patil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to become a nurse?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

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

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

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Yoji!

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

Read the Full Winners List