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

4 reasons why patient education should be a priority

physician patient education

As providers continue to evolve away from fee-for-service healthcare and towards a value-based care system, patient education is becoming more important than ever.

Value-based healthcare’s focus on outcomes and, consequently, what happens outside the “four walls” of the healthcare organization, requires a renewed focus on patient education to help combat chronic illnesses, increase preventative care, reduce readmissions and lower expenses.

When it comes down to it, an informed patient who understands their condition and corresponding treatment plan is one of the most important factors in achieving the goals of value-based healthcare.

Here are four reasons why patient education should be a strategic priority for healthcare organizations across the nation.

Reimbursements

Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) noted that by 2018, 50 percent of all Medicare reimbursements should be tied to value-based care. The HSS also wants value-based reimbursements for 2016 to come to 30 percent—in other words, the HSS plans for healthcare organizations throughout the country to begin transitioning away from fee-for-service and towards value-based care.

With the traditional fee-for-service model, providers received compensation based on volume: they’d see as many patients as possible, and order tests and procedures without regard to cost. With value-based care, alternatively, providers will begin to focus more so on evidence-based medicine, preventative and tailored treatments, and, of course, patient education, in order to increase quality of care while also keeping expenses down.

Increasing patient education efforts through social media campaigns, text-based outreach platforms, informative web videos, email marketing, podcasts, community lectures, and brochures are examples of inexpensive means for a provider to adapt to the new value-based model without having to completely restructure their organization.

Preventing chronic illness

Back in 2012, roughly half of American adults—or approximately 117 million people—were diagnosed with one or more chronic illnesses or health conditions. In fact, that year, one out of every four adults had two or more chronic conditions.

Currently, approximately 133 million Americans suffer from one or more chronic illnesses like diabetes, depression, or asthma—and the numbers are only increasing. Seventy to 80 percent of total health care costs are directly tied to the treatment of chronic illnesses. In short, the treatment of chronic illnesses is a major concern for the American medical community.

One of the most successful means of combating chronic illnesses is through patient education. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, can’t be treated through medical attention alone; patients require self-management, such as proper diet, to treat these illnesses as well. Studies have shown that patient education delivers results.

review of over 40 studies on diabetes patients noted that when providers encouraged “patient-oriented interventions,” patients’ health improved, and some even established positive glycemic control. Patient education should be viewed as a strategic weapon in the fight against the progression of chronic diseases in the United States.

Reducing costs

Unnecessary patient readmission is a costly issue that currently plagues our nation’s healthcare system. In fact, it’s estimated that these readmissions cost the U.S. government roughly $17 billion each year.

Additionally, it’s estimated that one out of every five Medicare patients will be readmitted into a hospital within a month following treatment. Readmissions, either due to over-cautiousness, carelessness, or patients relapsing, are a sizable expense that healthcare providers need to avoid.

But how can providers cut down on readmissions while also avoiding additional expenses?

Patient education can help providers to inform patients on the proper self-managed care needed to avoid readmissions. Additionally, with increased patient education efforts, providers can help patients understand the care setting most appropriate for their condition.

Uninformed patients sometimes seek treatment in the Emergency Room (ER) for minor issues when an Urgent Care Center, for example, would be much more appropriate. The ER is one of the most expensive healthcare settings, and patients should only seek it out when necessary—and not for minor concerns. But patients continue to seek ER treatment in ever-increasing numbers. In fact, ER visits have risen steadily over the last few years. According to a survey of 2,098 ER physicians by the American College of Emergency Physicians, three-quarters of the doctors surveyed noted that visits rose steadily from January 2014 to March 2015. Additionally, one-quarter of doctors noted a “significant increases in all emergency patients” since 2014.

Educating patients on when and where they should seek treatment will help to streamline the overall healthcare process and lower overall ER visits.

Saving time

Primary care doctors are increasingly short on time. Since fee-for-service care is structured around the concept of treating as many patients as possible, doctors usually try to squeeze in a high volume of patients during their workday.

In fact, in 2014, general practitioners and family physicians reported seeing an average of roughly 90 patients each week. It’s typical for doctors to also schedule short, 15-minute appointments, but some physicians try to keep appointments to no longer than 11 minutes. These short appointments not only make it difficult for patients to communicate with their doctors, but doctors are becoming burned-out with the rapid-paced appointments: A 2012 study noted that 30 percent of doctors between the ages of 35 and 49 plan to retire within the next five years.

With value-based care, doctors will begin to treat fewer patients, focusing more so on achieving positive results as opposed to booking a steady stream of appointments. However, in order to help doctors free up their time and avoid burnout, healthcare providers should focus on increased patient education. Informed patients will ask fewer and more pointed questions, and they’ll have a better idea of what’s ailing them, which will help to keep appointments short.

Lastly, relapses and readmissions should decline, helping to free up doctors’ schedules.

Higher quality of life

Lastly, patient education delivers results, and after becoming educated about their conditions and required treatments, patients generally have a higher quality of life. For example, Gallup polled a group of patients who received medical device implantation.

For the patients who “knew what to expect after surgery” (i.e. they received effective patient education), 72 percent were satisfied with their results, and only 8 percent reported problems after the device implantation. For the patients who didn’t know what to expect, only 39 percent were satisfied with their results, and 27 percent reported issues.

Informing a patient—or, in other words, educating them properly regarding their treatments or illnesses—helps to improve their overall quality of life.

As the nation’s healthcare reorients towards value-based care, patient education will become especially critical. When used correctly by providers, patient education can be a valuable tool, helping to increase efficiency and boost quality of care. Educating patients doesn’t have to take a great deal of additional time or effort.

A thoughtful, patient-centered strategy coupled with the application of innovative technologies can make a significant impact. Patient education, thanks to the push towards value-based care, is taking its place as a strategic imperative for healthcare providers throughout the nation.

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Managing the surprisingly troublesome impact of real-time healthcare on clinical decision-making

We live in an age of instant gratification. From the texts we send friends and family to the orders we place on Amazon.com, we’ve come to expect immediate results: instant responses, next-day shipping, etc.

The idea of immediacy in healthcare communications is not new. In fact, in 2015, healthcare analyst Gartner outlined a vision for what it dubbed the “real-time health system”—a landscape where healthcare professionals will be constantly aware of what’s happening within their systems and with their patients.

As a person living in the digital age, you’ve probably experienced real-time awareness in other parts of your life: the repetitive dings of received text messages, the intermittent beeps of calendar alerts, the near-constant hum as your smartphone vibrates over and over to let you know your mother, children and cousins have uploaded photos to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, as I’m typing this piece, I’ve heard alerts for two personal text messages that I’ve yet to look at (the temptation is maddening), four work-related emails (that I did have to stop and look at), a notification that someone commented on a thread I replied to on Facebook and more.

While there’s definitely a benefit to each of us knowing what’s happening in our expanded universe in real time—and we can easily draw a direct line to the benefits that doctors, nurses and patients would experience if they could communicate instantaneously while coordinating care—the influx of information is simply overwhelming.

And when alarm fatigue sets in, important messages get missed, the communication cycle breaks down and what was once a valuable resource becomes a liability. Overwhelmed and inundated clinicians cannot optimally use their invaluable expertise to make effective clinical decisions that deliver great health outcomes.

Aggregating, analyzing and managing the distribution of clinical information

Managing the flow of data and alert fatigue is a real challenge that clinicians and the IT teams that support them need to understand. Clinicians need “just the facts, ma’am,” so to speak, and they need to know which set of facts pertain directly to them and the patients for whom they are caring. Receiving more than enough information is not always a good thing, especially when the situation calls for fast thinking and quick decisions.

Investments made in technologies implemented over the past several years have enabled healthcare as an industry to generate very large amounts of digitized clinical information. The challenge is to aggregate this patient data in real time to generate new knowledge about a patient and distribute it in a way that does not inundate the clinician recipients with unnecessary information. Physicians and nurses should receive information they need in order to act in that moment. Everything else is noise.


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Implementing communication-driven workflows

Once new knowledge is made available and deemed relevant to a given clinical situation, it’s important to enable workflows that drive this information to the right care team members, who can take action in that moment. Hospital-based communication workflows must encompass all modalities, adhere to strict security mandates and facilitate reliable exchanges among clinicians across boundaries (e.g., acute, pre-acute and post-acute care settings). This kind of clinical integration is the future of healthcare communications.

If clinicians are inundated with unnecessary information, messages and alerts, combined with a communication workflow that creates barriers to a) finding the right care team member to contact, b) finding the contact method that the clinician prefers and c) knowing whether the intended recipient received the message, the workflow is flawed and is inhibiting the decision-making that leads to higher standards of patient care.

Leveraging clinical expertise

The personal judgment of experienced healthcare professionals is irreplaceable in effective, real-time decision-making. Technological advances are no doubt improving healthcare, but human intuition can never be replaced by a new device or software. However, that intuition can be inhibited by technologies if they are not strategically implemented and managed. In this sense, real-time healthcare could, ironically, be eroding quality.

To truly leverage the hundreds of collective years of clinical expertise housed in the minds of your hospital’s medical staff—the expertise that yields great outcomes—you must remove the barriers to effective communication. Collecting patient data in real time is an important part of that. But analyzing and aggregating that data into digestible, valuable pieces of information that can be easily shared and collaborated on is the follow-through that is often overlooked.

The gravitation toward instant gratification isn’t going away. And it’s important to understand that the concept doesn’t apply simply to generating patient data as healthcare events are occurring, but also to the ability to extract the significant portions and begin collaborating with the broader care team to interpret the data and derive a plan to deliver high-value care.

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The role of secure communications in your clinical integration strategy

If you could take one solution with you on your journey to clinical integration, what would it be?

Clinical integration is the unification of healthcare data, services and coordination across acute, outpatient and post-acute care. It portrays an environment where waste and inefficiency are all but eliminated from healthcare communications, costs decrease and care improves. It’s the future of medicine.

You wouldn’t be far off course if your first thought was to rely heavily on the EHR to support your clinical integration strategy. While the EHR is a valuable tool for sharing patient information within hospital systems and broader care networks, it lacks a fundamental quality that bridges the gaps between Meaningful Use and true clinical integration.

Fully realized clinical integration can only occur when the barriers of communication have been broken down, and interdisciplinary clinicians can accurately and reliably coordinate care in real time across organizational and geographical boundaries. As with most things related to healthcare communication and the sharing of information across disparate networks, securing those communications has been and will continue to be a primary focus for healthcare IT leaders. In an environment where healthcare organizations are driving toward an end-goal of clinical integration, enabling secure communications alone just isn’t enough.

To achieve clinical integration, clinicians need a solution that enables immediate, accurate, reliable and secure communications.

Immediacy in healthcare communication

Real-time communication is a crucial element of delivering high-value care. In the most critical emergencies, every second counts. The time that clinicians waste identifying the right on-call care team member to contact, and then trying to reach that person, can quite literally be the difference between life and death. Even in non-emergent situations, early detection and treatment are well-known effective preventers of worsening conditions.

Yet it’s all too common for inefficient and broken communication workflows to create time-consuming hurdles for clinicians to clear—sometimes even to just begin the conversation.

Clinically integrated settings approach clinician-to-clinician communication with a sense of real-time urgency. That’s not to say that every message should be sent with an emergency status, just that the process of identifying the provider you need to connect to and the delivery of that message should be seamless and immediate.

Reaching the right care team member on the first attempt should be an important metric for all hospital systems. To keep performance numbers high in this area, you must ensure clinicians always know exactly whom to contact for any given medical issue.

However, most clinicians today initiate time-sensitive contact to the broader care team by thumbing through a lengthy paper-based on-call schedule, making a call, and then waiting to receive a response.

Real-time clinical communication and collaboration tools immediately deliver secure communications, and even allow the clinician initiating the communication to see in real time when messages are delivered and read.

Contact accuracy

Reaching providers on the first attempt is important, but it’s just as important to reach the right provider—the one who can act on the medical issue at that moment—via his or her preferred method of contact.

It’s not uncommon for providers to have a different preferred contact medium for every variance of their schedule. And it’s not uncommon for those schedules to change at a moment’s notice. Yet many hospitals, in both small and large systems, only print the schedule and patient assignment lists once per day.

Clinicians in this setting have no way of knowing if they are accurately reaching out to the right providers via the right contact method. Manually producing a list of whom to contact and how is a process riddled with opportunity for inefficiency and inaccuracy.

Dynamic Intelligent Routing™ eliminates those opportunities for communication breakdown. A distinct capability of PerfectServe, Dynamic Intelligent Routing analyzes workflows, call schedules and contact preferences, enabling clinicians to reach the right person at the right time with just the tap of a button.

Reliable communication workflows

If your clinicians depend on inaccurate call schedules or outdated, cumbersome processes to drive clinical communications, your communication workflow isn’t reliable.

When clinicians can immediately contact the care team member they need via that provider’s preferred contact method, communication workflows become reliable and trustworthy, which leads to high adoption and improved patient care, no matter the care setting.

From improved care coordination to reduced costs

Inefficient communication workflows not only interfere with the realization of clinical integration, but also they inflate healthcare costs. For example, if a radiologist identifies a critical result in an outpatient test, the radiologist needs to contact the patient’s PCP so action can be taken right away. If the communication is not immediate, accurate or reliable, the process breaks down and the delay could result in medical complications for the patient that end up costing more to treat.

Moving a patient safely through the admissions, treatment, discharge and post-acute care processes requires a tremendous amount of coordination, good communication and a sound clinical integration strategy. The tools you use to support that communication and collaboration will play an important role in your success.

See how an innovative partner rated Best in KLAS for Clinical Communications after four consecutive years leading the category can help ensure you’ve got the right solutions working for you.

The what and why of physician engagement

As Mark Dixon pointed out in The Changing Role of the Physician, the healthcare industry continues to undergo transformation that will improve outcomes of not just one patient, but that of the entire population. This transformation will require physicians to step up and lead their peers through these critical changes. Physicians influence every step of the care process. However, physicians’ background, outlook, and training are different from hospital leaders, creating challenges in how to respond rapidly to marketplace and regulatory change.

A seat at the table

Why is physician engagement so critical for a successful patient care experience in hospitals today? A physician from upstate New York said, “When we are not invited to sit at the table, we feel like we are on the menu.”

When physicians feel a lack of engagement, it manifests itself in ways ranging from burnout to leaving their jobs. Physician employment alone does not yield engagement. The same skills of communication and collaboration are needed regardless of the percentage of employed physicians (Perry MR. A Local Solution for Hospital-Physician Relationships. Frontiers of Health Services Management 24(1):31, 2007).

What is engagement?

There are two definitions of engagement. One meaning involves a promise, as in engaged to marry. The other involves conflict, as in engaging the enemy. Perhaps it’s this dual definition that makes healthcare organizations struggle to understand how to get physicians engaged. According to Tom Atchison in Leading Healthcare Cultures: How Human Capital Drives Financial Performance, physician engagement is an intangible process that depends on the degree to which doctors are proud, loyal, and committed to a hospital’s mission, vision, and values. It differs from alignment, which is a tangible, time-delimited state reflecting compensation and contractual mandates.

Easier to pronounce than to achieve

Physician engagement is challenging because physicians and hospital administrators have different backgrounds and outlooks on how to deliver care. Physicians are trained to think in hours or days, whereas administrators’ time horizon may extend for years. Physicians and administrators also may differ in their perception of teamwork. As Joe Bujak wrote in Inside the Physician Mind: Finding Common Ground with Doctors, physicians view themselves as members of an expert culture who conceive of teams in terms of individual performance, like members of a golf team who compete in their own matches. However, administrators tend to see themselves as part of an interdependent affiliated culture, like members of a volleyball team, who dig, set, and spike to win points.

 

Dr. Cohn is CEO of Healthcare Collaboration that works with disgruntled doctors and hospital leaders to improve clinical and financial performance. He has mentored physicians since 1998, finding that physicians enjoy learning from fellow physicians. His recent novel, Dead at His Desk, explores the conflicts between physicians and hospital administrators using the framework of a mystery thriller. His webinar, Physician Engagement: A Case-Based Approach, will take place Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 1:00 PMEST.

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