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

Executive Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tackling the Complexity of Care Team Communication in the Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Helpful Gatekeeper for Patient-to-Provider Communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamic Intelligent Routing: Making Complex Workflows Seem Easy

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

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

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

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

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

Why is Physician Engagement Important?

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

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

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

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

What is Physician Engagement?

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

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

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

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

Measuring Physician Engagement

Surveys

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

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

Scorecards

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

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

 Travis Turner, Mary Washington Healthcare

Dashboards & Reporting

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

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

physician-engagement-dashboard

Accountability Tools

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

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

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

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

Improving Physician Engagement

Provide Pathways to Influence

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

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

Launch a ‘North-Star’ Initiative

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

physician-engagement-strategy-northstar

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

 

Create a Data Strategy

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

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

Form Leadership Development Programs

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

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

How Does Technology Improve Physician Engagement?

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

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

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

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

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

Operating Room Management: Scheduling and OR Efficiency

Operating Room Management: How Digital Scheduling Can Improve OR Efficiency

Operating rooms (ORs) account for roughly 60% of a hospital’s revenue,1 but they also represent the largest hospital cost category.2 As a result, effective operating room management can make or break the financial stability of your hospital. Yet, many operating room managers and staff lack the technology needed to optimize OR utilization, including physician scheduling software and exam room scheduling tools.

How to Improve Operating Room Management

Many hospitals target “on-time first case starts,” meaning the first operation begins on time with no delays, as a baseline for using operating room time most efficiently.3 Delays in first case starts can delay OR operations for the remainder of the day, frustrating patients and surgical teams. For diligent leaders, the essential first step to streamlining processes that get patients, surgeons, and equipment to the operating table on time is to evaluate how clinical teams and cases are scheduled.

Implementing the right provider scheduling and operating room management system can help hospitals and health systems holistically address OR efficiency. An advanced solution will also arm clinical and operational leaders with the data they need to track progress and set benchmarks for success. Investing in comprehensive scheduling technology can maximize the operational efficiency of your OR, increase patient access, improve patient throughput, and increase revenue.

4 Ways Physician Scheduling Software Improves Operating Room Efficiency

1. Digitizing Provider Schedules for Real-Time Visibility

Without proper scheduling technology, clinical teams can have trouble accessing the latest schedule and keeping it up to date. As schedules are updated, different versions of the schedule can linger and create confusion for both clinicians and administrators. A digital scheduling platform increases schedule access by making real-time schedules available on any device 24/7.

Hospitals and health systems that deploy a single digital scheduling solution across the enterprise can further streamline operating room management and efficiency by giving OR managers, directors, and others one place to see schedules for all clinical staff moving in and out of the OR.

2. Automating the Scheduling Process

Based on client data, we estimate that each specialty department in a hospital spends roughly 291 hours building and managing shift schedules. Much of that work is delegated to physicians and clinical leaders who know the ins and outs of their departments’ schedules. Automating the schedule-building process with a rules-based scheduling solution frees up physician’s time so they can get back to revenue-generating patient care.

3. Leveraging Data to More Efficiently Manage Resources

A schedule becomes a tool for resource optimization when organizations can analyze and compare historical staffing patterns and create future schedules that align staffing with patient demand. The result? Efficient use of capital resources and more productive, satisfied staff. Prescriptive analytics can give organizations insight into patterns of provider supply and patient demand on a daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal basis. Supply and demand patterns help leadership optimally allocate resources as needed for certain surgical services, allowing organizations to cut waste, increase patient access, and avoid patient leakage.

4. Improving OR and Exam Room Scheduling

The right scheduling tool can provide the proper utilization metrics to set benchmarks for improving operating room management and efficiency. With real-time visibility into OR availability, turnover times, and openings, users can best schedule providers and surgical teams directly into specific operating rooms.

OR Outcomes: Optimal Utilization and Increased Revenue

1. Reduction of Errors and Improved Operational Efficiency

Automating the scheduling process saves time and reduces the risk of human errors leading to empty rooms, double bookings, and other inefficiencies that cost time and money. With real-time schedule availability, your staff can waste less time on back-and-forth communication about open rooms and scheduling.

2. Improved Patient Access and Patient Experience

By reducing errors and optimizing the scheduling of clinical staff and operating rooms, great scheduling software helps ensure your patients receive timely care, fewer delays, and less frustration. An ideal solution will also allow your team to identify gaps and opportunities in your OR utilization—improving patient access and generating additional revenue for your hospital.

3. Increased Provider Satisfaction and Retention

A scheduling solution can eliminate many of the frustrations providers experience when it comes to their schedule, including inconvenient errors and the struggle to find the latest version of the schedule. When operating room resources are optimally utilized, physicians can see more patients, leading to more billable services per provider.

The result of better OR scheduling? An overall increase in revenue and profitability for your hospital. With the proper technology, your organization can increase patient throughput, reduce overhead costs of underutilized operating rooms, and improve OR efficiency.

Discover how one major health system leveraged our physician scheduling software to uncover hidden resource availability and maximize its utilization of exam rooms and operating rooms.

Sources

  1. Analysis of the US and EU5 Hospital Operating Room (OR) Products and Solutions Market, Forecast to 2022, Frost & Sullivan, May 2019: images.discover.frost.com/Web/FrostSullivan/%7B633567b3-e18e-4fd3-82d8-bd6fd5bfc13f%7D_MDD8_Preview.pdf
  2. Where Are the Costs in Perioperative Care?: Analysis of Hospital Costs and Charges for Inpatient Surgical Care, Alex Macario, MD, MBA, Terry S. Vitez, MD, Brian Dunn, BA, Tom McDonald, MD, Anesthesiology—Vol 83, Pages 1138-1144, 1995: pubs.asahq.org/anesthesiology/article/83/6/1138/49/Where-Are-the-Costs-in-Perioperative-Care-Analysis
  3. 7 of the Most Important Metrics for Measuring OR Efficiency, Becker’s Hospital Review, Jan. 19 2012: beckershospitalreview.com/or-efficiencies/7-of-the-most-important-metrics-for-measuring-or-efficiency.html

 

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

Comprehensive Clinical Communication to Support Mother-Baby Care Delivery

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Improve Post-Treatment Compliance

text post treatment compliance

According to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, patients tend to immediately forget 40-80% of information their care providers present to them – or, worse, remember incorrect information about care plans or follow-up care.1  In the era of value-based care, it’s important to find a way to ensure patient compliance with treatments to improve patient outcomes and avoid costly readmissions.

Engaging patients with messages and reminders sent as text messages offers healthcare professionals an opportunity to improve patient treatment compliance when, where, and how it would be most effective.

Treatment Plan Communication

Traditional approaches to care plan compliance include verbal discharge instructions and sending patients home with discharge documents and information. Digital interventions can improve compliance with care plans, including:

  • Providing a digital format of care plan information that can be referred to anytime, anywhere
  • Clear, action-oriented reminders of care plan instructions when and where they are needed during the recovery process. For example, if a patient is to begin an exercise regime on day 3, a reminder can be sent that morning with a link to specific instructions or videos walking patients through the exercise program.
  • Provide timely guidance, tips, or exercise recommendations to support patient self-care

Handling some of this important patient information via text message can support the care plan at precisely the right time while also keeping the lines of communication open so that patients can text back or call in if they have any questions or need further information.

Automated Medication Adherence Reminders

Medication adherence requires that patients fill their prescriptions, understand directions, and take medication on time. Adherence rates for chronic conditions is about 50%, accounting for up to half of treatment failures and 25% of hospitalizations each year.2 Adherence interventions strategies for medication includes directly faxing prescriptions to pharmacies and leveraging reminders and single-response survey questions (“Have you picked up your prescription from the pharmacy?”).

Text messaging doubled the odds of medication and improved overall adherence rates by 17.8%3

Read the Case Study

Although there are many digital adherence technologies (DATs) that can automate reminders for medication, it’s important to support ongoing two-way engagement with patients, who may have questions or concerns about side effects, and to have a way to send survey questions to confirm compliance.

Surveys to Improve Compliance and Reduce Readmissions

In a recent survey, Dr. Ethan Basch, M.D., M.Sc., found that nearly half the physical and psychological symptoms of his patients went unreported.4 Improving patient outcomes requires capturing more patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in real-time to provide timely interventions.

After discharge and periodically through recovery, you can leverage automatic procedure-specific diagnostic surveys to assess progress and ensure understanding of the treatment plan. Patient-reported outcomes can be tailored to the condition or procedure in question, assessing general health as well as data specific to symptoms, side effects, or pain levels. For the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, our own data suggests that securely surveying key health indicators can help improve a1c rates by 0.5 points or more.

Based upon patient responses and your defined rules, PerfectServe’s patient engagement platform will alert care team members if a patient requires follow-up. Based upon the familiarity and simplicity of text messages, the solution has the proven capability to reduce readmissions by as much as 30%.

“We have such a hard time getting some patients to answer a phone call, yet they will respond to assessments delivered by text. PerfectServe saves valuable time for our nurses every day and helps us reach those in need more quickly.” — Karen Loscheider, Manager, Triage Nurse, Park Nicollet Health Services

Read the Case Study

In addition to encouraging patient reported outcomes, patient satisfaction insight surveys also help you gather and act upon feedback in time to make a difference on a patient’s overall satisfaction, which can help reduce the risk of patient leakage and improve HCAHPS scores.

PerfectServe’s Patient & Family Communication solution can help you deliver a thoughtful, targeted set of prompts to support post-treatment care to reduce readmissions and improve outcomes. Our solution is proven and is live in more than 10,000 care locations, facilitating more than 42,000 patient interactions every day.

Learn More

1 Roy P C Kessels, PhD. “Patients’ memory for medical information,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2003.

2 Jennifer Kim, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, CPP et al, “Medication Adherence: The Elephant in the Room,” US Pharmacist, 2018.

3 Thakkar J, Kurup R, Laba TL, et al. “Mobile telephone text messaging for medication adherence in chronic disease: a meta-analysis.” JAMA Intern Med. 2016

4 Ethan Basch, Md, MSc, et al. “Overall Survival Results of a Trial Assessing Patient-Reported Outcomes for Symptom Monitoring During Routine Cancer Treatment,” JAMA, 2017

The Importance of Patient Education

Patient education is more important than ever in today’s value-based care system, which focuses on patient outcomes beyond the four walls of your healthcare organization. For a growing number of hospitals and practices, the key to educating patients and ensuring they have a good understanding of their care recommendations is simple—effective patient and family communication.

Why prioritize patient education?

The best way for healthcare organizations across the nation to understand the importance of patient education is by exploring five key reasons why patient education should be a strategic priority:

  1. Hospital Reimbursements
  2. Chronic Illness Prevention
  3. Healthcare Cost Reduction
  4. Clinician Time Savings
  5. Patient Experience Improvements

 

1. Hospital Reimbursements

The COVID-19 pandemic led healthcare organizations to rely heavily upon value-based care reimbursements, accelerating the shift toward patient-centered care.1 Now, providers are increasing patient education efforts to ensure they continue to meet the standards of value-based care.

CMS Value-Based Programs for Provider Payment

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), Quality Payment Programs (QPPs), and Value Modifier (VM) Program are a few examples of value-based reimbursement programs. These are designed to:

  • Tie payments to quality and cost-efficient care.
  • Increase the use of healthcare information.
  • Drive improvement in health outcomes.

Fortunately, technology makes it is easier than ever to go beyond patient handouts to provide quality education to patients in a cost-efficient and time-efficient way. Rather than sinking staff time into manual patient outreach, providers can educate patients through automated text messages. Targeted messages can link to educational blog posts, videos, and other online resources, delivered directly to patients’ cell phones to encourage better outcomes.

2. Chronic Illness Prevention

Another takeaway from COVID-19 was the increased health risk associated with patients with chronic conditions. A study from 12 states reported that 73% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 had at least one underlying chronic condition, and rates of hospitalization increased as the number of conditions increased.2

Even before the pandemic, 90% of the nation’s healthcare expenditures were for people with chronic and mental health conditions, and chronic conditions accounted for 7 of the 10 leading causes of death in the US.2 One of the most successful ways to combat chronic illnesses is through self-management supported by patient education.

Many prevalent chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis share common challenges associated with self-management, which include:

  • Dealing with symptoms and disability.
  • Monitoring physical indicators.
  • Managing complex medication regimens.
  • Maintaining proper nutrition and exercise.
  • Adjusting to psychological and social demands.
  • Difficult lifestyle adjustments.
  • Engaging in effective interactions with health care providers.

Relationships between patients and their healthcare providers, friends, family, and community are fundamental to the self-management of chronic illness. Self-management programs and education tailored to specific groups with various delivery strategies have proven successful at improving health outcomes in targeted populations.3

3. Healthcare Cost Reduction

Unnecessary patient readmissions cost the US government roughly $17 billion each year.4 To combat the alarming rate of readmissions, CMS created the Hospital Readmission Reduction Programs in 2012, which penalizes hospitals when too many patients return within one month of treatment.

Nearly a decade later, federal records show that CMS will penalize 2,545 hospitals in 2021 for having too many Medicare patients readmitted within 30 days.5 That’s nearly half of the nation’s hospitals! But how can organizations cut down on readmissions and avoid penalties without incurring additional expenses on follow-up resources?

Patient education can help providers inform and remind patients of the proper ways to self-manage care and avoid nonessential readmissions. Better education can also help patients understand the care setting most appropriate for their condition and avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital.

For example, an uninformed patient might seek treatment in the Emergency Department (ED) for a minor issue, when an Urgent Care Center would be much more appropriate. The ED is one of the most expensive healthcare settings, and should be reserved only for critical events—not for nonurgent care.

Educating patients on how to follow self-care recommendations and when and where to seek treatment helps support faster recovery, reducing readmissions and expenses.

4. Clinician Time Savings

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has reported that the US will face a shortage of more than 100,000 physicians by 2030.6 As the shortage grows, our physicians grow increasingly short on time. As it is, the average doctor sees 20 patients per day.7

This means patient visits must be short, which can be problematic for several reasons. To start, shorter consultation times have been linked to poorer health for patients and increased burnout for doctors.

Patient Health

Short appointments make it difficult for patients to communicate with their doctors and for doctors to ensure patients fully understand the next steps they should be taking in their care plan. But how can healthcare organizations bridge the gap when time is finite and physician resources are dwindling?

Following up post-visit to provide patient education and reminders is an effective way to help patients self-manage their health. For example, HIPAA-compliant text messages can reach patients directly and can be automated to make outreach easy for care teams.

Physician Burnout

42% of all physicians report experiencing burnout, which can lead to reduced energy, depersonalization, depression, and physician turnover, as well as patient safety accidents. For sources and more information on clinician burnout, read our Clinician Burnout Report.

To help doctors free up their time to reduce stress and avoid burnout, healthcare providers should focus on increased patient education. Informed patients ask fewer and more pointed questions during appointement and can take steps to avoid uneccessary readmissions.

 

5. Patient Experience Improvements

Ongoing patient education improves self-efficacy and delivers better patient results by helping them adhere to medication and treatment regimens, identify abnormal symptoms, and decide what steps to take when issues arise. Each outcome enhanced by patient education also improves the patient experience (and HCAHPS scores) .

Pre-appointment education can help patients know what to expect and where to go, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. Post-appointment education can help patients recover properly with fewer complications. Across all stages of the patient journey, keeping patients informed and educated improves outcomes—from patient satisfaction to quality of life—the true purpose of value-based care.

Check out our blog on how to improve the patient experience to learn more.

Patient Education and Engagement Support Value-Based Care

Value-based care has required healthcare providers throughout the nation to prioritize patient education and patient engagement as strategic imperatives. To learn more about how a thoughtful, patient-centered communication strategy can provide ongoing patient education while enhancing the patient experience, download our white paper, Engaging Patients to Support Value-Based Care Initiatives.

Get the White Paper

 

Sources:

  1. The move to value accelerates in 2021, spurred by lack of fee-for-service payments during pandemic, Morse, S., Healthcare Finance, Dec. 23, 2020: healthcarefinancenews.com/news/move-value-accelerates-2021-spurred-lack-fee-service-payments-during-pandemic
  2. An Ounce of Prevention Is Still Worth a Pound of Cure, Especially in the Time of COVID-19, Hacker, K., et al., Preventing Chronic Disease, Vol. 18, E03, CDC, Jan. 2021: cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2021/pdf/20_0627.pdf
  3. Self-Management: A Comprehensive Approach to Management of Chronic Conditions, Anekwe, T., et al., American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), Dec. 7, 2018: ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302041r
  4. Preventable Readmissions Cost CMS $17 Billion, Reardon, S., RevCycleIntelligence, Jan. 13, 2015: revcycleintelligence.com/news/preventable-readmissions-cost-cms-17-billion
  5. Medicare Fines Half of Hospitals for Readmitting Too Many Patients, Rau, J., Kaiser Health News (KHN), Nov. 2, 2020: khn.org/news/medicare-fines-half-of-hospitals-for-readmitting-too-many-patients/
  6. Research Shows Shortage of More than 100,000 Doctors by 2030, Mann, S., Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Mar. 14, 2017: aamc.org/news-insights/research-shows-shortage-more-100000-doctors-2030