Ochsner Health Drives Physician Engagement, Reduces Burnout With Better Schedule Management

The subject of healthcare burnout is not new. In fact, according to the KLAS “Clinician Burnout 2021” report¹ published in December, burnout levels are higher than ever, with the pandemic being a prime contributor:

For physicians in particular, KLAS notes that one of the biggest contributors to burnout is having no personal control over their workload. Taking care of patients is rewarding, but doctors aren’t robots—they need to rest and recuperate, and during times of elevated stress, they need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

At the recent ADVANCE 2022 conference hosted by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, New Orleans-based Ochsner Health presented research and findings² that demonstrate how PerfectServe’s Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt can help to stem the tide on burnout and loss of control.

At Ochsner, Lightning Bolt “significantly improves physician engagement and reduces burnout by creating fair and flexible schedules that support work-life balance—even during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The results presented by Dhruv Choudhry, M.D., lead author of the study and anesthesiology resident at Ochsner, are powerful:

1. Six months after implementing Lightning Bolt for a department of 60 anesthesiologists, a Press Ganey survey revealed that their average engagement score had increased by nearly 30%, from 3.3 to 4.2 out of 5. This was one of the largest increases across the Ochsner Health system.

2. Lightning Bolt drove this increase by granting more vacation days, reducing ungranted vacation days, and providing more predictability and flexibility than the prior staff-created scheduling system.

3. Compared to the previous manual scheduling process, which required 60 to 75 staff hours per month on average, Lightning Bolt auto-generates “the best schedule for the department” in just 14 hours. Collectively, that’s two and a half days of staff time saved per month and 30 days saved over the course of a year.

Anecdotally, Dr. Choudhry also reported that Lightning Bolt gives anesthesiologists  “one or two mornings and one or two afternoons off a month to allow for increased work-life balance so they are better able to attend events important to them.”

Talking more specifically about the pandemic, Dr. Choudhry noted that Lightning Bolt allowed Ochsner to quickly and seamlessly build schedules for COVID ICUs as they were opened. Physicians could also indicate in the system whether they preferred to work in the operating room or the ICU, which added a degree of control to an often-uncertain situation.

In addition to the results Ochsner presented at the conference, the organization has seen other notable improvements after implementing Lightning Bolt:

  • Auto-generation and publication of schedules through Lightning Bolt saves Ochsner roughly 720 hours per year versus previous scheduling methods.
  • Vacation request approval has increased by 55%.
  • Lightning Bolt has improved OR case handoffs, saving Ochsner $600,000 per year.
  • The use of reporting has allowed for greater transparency and helps physicians to better understand equalization rules. For example, it’s easy to demonstrate that weekend work is being evenly distributed to avoid any one person feeling like they’re shouldering too much of the load.
  • Integration with Epic On-Call Finder has improved transfer center operations and yielded better speed to care for patients.

Taken as a whole, Ochsner’s experience with Lightning Bolt is a strong endorsement of advanced scheduling technology and the many ways it can improve the lives of providers, staff, and patients. When providers have more control of and better visibility into their schedules, and when they know those schedules can be built equitably while accounting for their personal preferences, they are more likely to be satisfied at work. Greater provider satisfaction often leads to better patient care, better retention, and better metrics across the board.

We thank our friends and partners at Ochsner not only for presenting their findings, but also for reminding us that healthcare technology has the power to change, improve, and even save lives every day.

Ready to learn more about transforming your organization through better scheduling?

Citations

  1. Clinician Burnout 2021, KLAS Research Arch Collaborative, Jacob Jeppson, Dec. 3, 2021: klasresearch.com/report/clinician-burnout-2021-covid-19-increasingly-cited-in-rising-burnout/2080
  2. Using AI to create work schedules significantly reduces physician burnout, study shows, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Jan. 28, 2022: asahq.org/about-asa/newsroom/news-releases/2022/01/using-ai-to-create-work-schedules-significantly-reduces-physician-burnout

Develop a Clinical Communication Governance Strategy

Ensure the investment you’ve made is used and adopted as intended

Governance is an important tool organizations use to ensure that software implementation and adoption aligns with business goals and complies with external regulations. A good governance program offers a framework for achieving measurable progress toward organizational objectives and maintaining compliance standards.

Adding to operational complexity, organizations now operate in an environment defined by distributed networks, distributed teams, and cloud-based everything, and a rapidly expanding big data ecosystem that’s becoming increasingly difficult to control.

A good governance system addresses these issues and is designed so that assets such as clinical communication tools provide maximum value to healthcare organizations and patients.

To make governance work for your organization, we’ve developed a checklist to help you manage your Clinical Communication Governance Strategy.

HIPAA Compliant Texting: Tips on Patient Communication

With the number of smartphone users in the U.S. expected to cross the 300 million milestone in 2022, it’s now possible to connect with anyone at almost any time.1 This digital transformation gives healthcare providers, patients, and family members a great opportunity to communicate during and after care.

Here are some ways HIPAA-compliant secure messaging can help, especially during times when going to hospitals and medical practices in person isn’t always an option.

HIPAA Compliance Rules Explained for Healthcare

The rules for HIPAA compliance in healthcare prohibit medical providers—including physicians, nurses, and staff—within the practice from releasing protected health information (PHI) without the consent of the patient or guardian. All health organizations are required to train their staff annually on how to comply with HIPAA regulations. With the installation of HIPAA-compliant software like PerfectServe, providers can safely integrate patient communications in secure clinical messaging.

Healthcare Before HIPAA

Have you ever wondered what healthcare was like before HIPAA? Before the introduction of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not have a National Health Privacy Law, and patients relied on laws in each state about patient privacy. HIPAA was created to set national standards to protect PHI from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.2

Healthcare After HIPAA

After HIPAA was established, medical providers had new guidelines for protecting patient information, regardless of their practice size or specialty. Today, HIPAA requires all practices to attain patient consent forms to use PHI for healthcare delivery, payments, practice communications, and other uses of PHI for marketing or research purposes.3

How Does Secure Patient Communication Work?

Traditionally, practices and medical providers have been forced to use multiple platforms to achieve secure patient communications. Ensuring all information on multiple platforms is current and correct requires more staff and time. Now, they have options to streamline the workflow for health information, provider communication, reminders, HIPAA-compliant texting, and patient records all within one platform.

Voicemail and Phone Message Prompts

Different medical practices use voicemail and phone message prompts as conduits for communicating securely with their patients. But this method of communication is often cumbersome, requiring a lot of follow-ups and tracking, which leaves the door open for missing information. Practices have often found a positive response in patient satisfaction, appointment scheduling, and overall communication when switching to a streamlined and secure messaging patient platform.

Secure Medical Texting

Smartphones are veritable Swiss Army knives these days—they’re used for communicating, maintaining calendars, browsing the internet, wayfinding, and many other tasks or activities. To emphasize the immediacy of contact when smartphones are in play, one research article indicated that 90% of people read a text message within the first three minutes, whereas emails are often overlooked.4 Allowing communication between healthcare providers through secure HIPAA-compliant texting creates a win-win for not only the patient experience, but also the medical practice managers and hospital staff.

Secure Clinical Messaging for Better Patient Communication

PerfectServe provides HIPAA-compliant secure texting solutions to empower clinicians to text nurses, physicians, patients, and family members all in one app that can include attachments, videos, and more for communication purposes. As medical providers, it’s crucial to obtain accurate, up-to-date information and reminders for each of your patients.

Text Messages Help with Patient Reminders

One PerfectServe client, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties, was able to reduce no-show appointment rates by 12.6% using automated secure text messages to patients. Ridgeview reported 6,264 no-show appointments in 2016 and realized it was imperative to make a change using new technology to streamline messaging. Over two years, the switch to secure text reminders resulted in more patient engagement and fewer no-show appointments. Overall, the facility was able to reduce no-show appointments by 792 annually with an estimated revenue gain of $138,600.5

Providers Can Message Patients on the Fly

Having access to reliable connectivity across locations makes it easy to deliver timely communication and care. Providers can use secure video, voice, and HIPAA-compliant text messaging from specialty practices to the hospital staff while using a phone, tablet, pager, computer, or landline. Organizations with more advanced PerfectServe deployments have even embedded the communication platform directly within the EHR, which allows providers to cut back on time spent toggling between devices and other apps by up to 76.3%. Imagine being able to admit a patient into the ER, receive blood work, and contact their primary care physician all within one platform.

Integrations are another key differentiator that set PerfectServe apart from similar HIPAA-compliant texting apps. Unnecessary provider disruptions can be avoided by integrating schedules with workflow engines, and integration with the EHR to incorporate information like patient lists unlocks a wide number of valuable workflow capabilities. Integration with the nurse call system frees nurses from the bedside by giving them the ability to monitor and respond to patient alerts and requests from any location, especially if they’re equipped with smartphones.

PerfectServe provides secure messaging, connectivity from any location, accessibility on all devices, embedded EHR messaging, automated routing, and improved workflows all from one easy-to-use application.

For more information, read how secure text and video messaging helped other practices communicate effectively across the care continuum.

1O’Dea, S. (2021, March 19). Number of smartphone users in the United States from 2018 to 2025 (in millions). Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/201182/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/

2(2018, September 14). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html

3Kibbe, C. (2001, March 8). What You Need to Know About HIPAA Now. Family Practice Manager, 8(6):43-47. https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2001/0300/p43.html

4Lane, N. (2010, June). Conversational Advertising. MobileSquared. https://mobilesquared.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Conversational-Advertising.pdf

5PerfectServe Success Stories. Ridgeview Rehab Specialities department reduces non-show rates by 12.6% with automated text messages to patients. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/

AnesthesiaGo: How Software Can Help Operating Room Scheduling

Healthcare is a noble profession, but as many will attest, clinicians still have to overcome far too many daily obstacles to do what they were trained to do—treat patients.

Eliminating these obstacles with smart technology has been PerfectServe’s remit for 25 years. To be sure, medicine will always require some level of human oversight, but when you can automate manual processes that cause delays and add frustration, you’re going to make clinicians very happy. 

Provider Scheduling has been doing this for years by automating the creation of provider schedules, and the newest solution to join the PerfectServe fold—AnesthesiaGo, which auto-generates daily OR case schedules—is cut from the same cloth.

Disrupting the Operating Room Case Scheduling Process

When AnesthesiaGo’s founder, a practicing anesthesiologist by the name of Dr. Mike Bronson, was unexpectedly given the responsibility of building daily OR case schedules for his group, he came face to face with a vital process that was in desperate need of a revamp.

Image of Dr. Mike Bronson

This responsibility is usually given to a senior anesthesiologist, and it’s normal to find them building the next day’s schedule in the late afternoon or early evening—after they’ve dispensed with their clinical duties. Depending on the size of the group, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours to finish this process. After the schedule is sent out, it’s also inevitable that the creator receives texts, phone calls, and emails requesting revisions.

Taking on this kind of tedious task after finishing a day of procedures is, to say the least, not ideal. And that’s why Dr. Bronson was convinced he could do it better with technology.

With help from a friend who had deep experience in the fields of data analytics, advanced algorithms, and UI/UX designs, Dr. Bronson spent four months studying past data and figuring out different ways of scheduling. The next ten months were spent building the basic solution infrastructure, laying a foundation for the algorithms, and then optimizing said algorithms.

Image of clocks and provider schedules

Case Scheduling with AnesthesiaGo

The solution born from all of this work, AnesthesiaGo, has four main goals:

  • Be Faster: Save hours (or even days) each week by cutting time required for schedule creation.
  • Use Automation: Leverage technology to reduce administrative burden.
  • Reduce Human Error: Minimize double-bookings, scheduling someone at a location for which they’re not credentialed, not leaving enough time for travel between locations, etc.
  • Improve Efficiency: Find a better way to create daily case schedules.

To put it simply, AnesthesiaGo aligns the best anesthesia provider to the best case schedule, promotes efficiencies and transparency for all surgical staff, and helps prevent delayed or canceled cases associated with less optimal—but still very common—manual scheduling methods.

12 Minutes to deliver care

The proof is in the pudding, too. AnesthesiaGo customers can now auto-generate and deliver a daily case schedule in just 12 minutes on average, which is down by 44 minutes versus traditional manual scheduling methods. That’s almost an 80% improvement!

And taking it a step further, AnesthesiaGo also leans heavily into provider wellness by supporting the concept of teaming (sometimes called “best matches”). For a variety of reasons, it’s common for anesthesiologists and surgeons to have well-defined preferences about who they work with during a procedure, and AnesthesiaGo will pair these optimal teams as frequently as possible. It sounds pretty simple on its face, but by including this functionality, AnesthesiaGo helps to improve provider satisfaction and wellness while facilitating continuity of care.

Anesthesiologist and Medical Providers with a Checkmark

In an interview with AIMed, Dr. Bronson noted that anesthesiologists often deal with life-threatening, traumatic events. But despite the high stakes of their clinical duties, “the most stressful part [of our jobs] is not about saving lives, but handling the paperwork that needs to be completed in the shortest possible time.”

AnesthesiaGo can make that stressful paperwork a thing of the past. Learn more about our Case Scheduling for Anesthesia Staff, or fill out the form below if you’d like a member of our team to contact you for a demo.

How to Improve Medical Response Times for Nurses

We sat down with three PerfectServe nurse leaders to understand more about the heart of a nurse and how they can improve workflows in both acute and post-acute care settings. Watch the interview below on your next 20-minute break.

Read more about nurses communication and collaboration daily needs.

Recognizing the Heart and Role of Nurses

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among women in the United States?1 To raise awareness about this epidemic, the American Heart Association recognizes women’s cardiovascular health every year in February. Women account for 85% of the nursing workforce and as much as 90% in other healthcare occupations, such as medical assistants, nurse midwives, and speech pathologists.2

One of the core principles—you might even call it the heart—of the nursing profession is having the compassion to care for others. But who is taking care of nurses to reduce the stresses and strains associated with their work? They’re the backbone of the care team, and they’re in need of tools that allow them to provide care as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

When caring for a critically ill patient, being able to quickly and easily send a message to the right care team member may relieve elements of the daily exhaustion nurses face. There are two effective ways to facilitate this: (1) having an accurate real-time on-call schedule and (2) integrating a secure text messaging system that reduces the number of steps to communicate with providers and patient family members.[/vc_column_text]

I think it’s about taking barriers out of the way for our clinicians and our nurses and the entire care team to do what needs to be done, you know, with a limited amount of time, we have to break down barriers and make things easier.

-Annie McCoy, Enterprise Account Executive

 

Improve Medical Response Times with an Accurate, On-Call Schedule

A nurse’s time is far too valuable to be spent on looking for an up-to-date physician on-call schedule at the nurses’ station. Imagine a nurse flipping through a morning schedule (that has since changed) dangling from the wall. She takes several minutes to look up how a provider wants to be contacted at that particular time of day, further delaying response times and treatment for a patient. Later, the nurse finds out the provider she paged is no longer on call, and now she has to page someone else, first by repeating the manual process of looking up schedules.

In the meantime, the patient’s symptoms are worsening, the patient’s family is becoming increasingly anxious, and the nurse is fatigued—juggling the patient’s needs and the family’s concern while tracking down the right provider is a delicate dance. To put it simply, it’s exhausting when you don’t have tools that seamlessly facilitate the most basic—but still important—elements of your job.

To ensure timely patient care and protect clinicians from burnout, it’s important to have an accessible, dynamically updated on-call schedule that can be tightly integrated with your organization’s secure messaging solution. This simplifies the process to initiate communication between nurses and providers.

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Time saving is both in acute and the ambulatory space. Who was on call? Who was covering that unit? It can be a web that is very difficult to untangle. Where we need to be headed is more engagement into the patient and family member. How do we take a congestive heart failure patient?…They need to see these details beyond the acute and ambulatory side of things.

-Kelly Conklin, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer

 

Helping Nurses by Using a Secure Text Messaging Solution

Many technologies, like pagers and walkie talkies, can be tedious, unreliable, and not well-designed with clinicians in mind. For nurses, minutes matter, and all of these seemingly minor inconveniences and delays can add up fast. This increases stress on a nurse’s heart, as well as the heart of their patients.

Heart Issues in the Emergency Department (ED)

Consider STEMI: the primary focus of care is to restore blood supply to the heart as quickly as possible. If nurses can expedite notifications and coordination of care, the better outcomes the patient will have and a higher likelihood for survival.

Several steps are required to manage patients with STEMIs, and a variety of care team members need to be notified along the way. 

For example, the EMS notifies the ED charge nurse of an incoming patient with chest pain. An ED provider needs to be assigned to care for the patient. An ED nurse is needed to prepare for the patient’s arrival. An ED Tech is needed to perform the ECG, and patient registration needs to register the patient. Pending the results of the ECG and laboratory studies, further communication is needed to activate the cath lab team and the on-call cardiologist to re-oxygenate the heart as quickly as possible.

All of these steps require the ED charge nurse to maximize coordination and notifications to the appropriate team members to ensure the patient receives timely care. A secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedule expedites the process of notification to the ED team, cath lab, and cardiologist during these critical events.

Additionally, when EMS uses a secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedules, this supports communication of a STEMI diagnosis and preactivation of the cardiac cath lab team while en route to the hospital. The results of the ECGs can be shared with the ED provider or cardiologists to confirm findings. 

This direct communication determines if the patient is eligible to bypass the ED and be transported directly to the cardiac cath lab. Bypassing the ED not only reduces the burden on already strained ED resources, but saves the patient time that is needed to reperfuse their cardiac tissue, improving outcomes, and decreasing mortality.

They have a tool that can mimic the technology in their day-to-day lives. It takes up to 10 years to catch up to technology in healthcare. Real-time technology helps nurses. The last implementation feedback: “This is so easy.” They can just pick up this device, communicate in real-time, at their fingertips. It’s amazing to hear. They don’t like to hear, “Not another technology you’re making me learn again.”

-Michelle Hamland, Senior Clinical Consultant

 

Give a Nurse’s Heart a Break: Strengthen Their Workflow

At PerfectServe, we’ve spent 25 years improving patient care by listening to the nurses and doctors that perform patient care. Time-sensitive emergencies, such as STEMIs, require quick decisions. Nurses equipped with efficient communication technology and scheduling solutions reduce common barriers in their everyday workflows.

For more information, read how other hospitals have used automated, real-time communication to decrease rapid response times and improve communication workflows for nurses and clinicians.

1American Heart Association. The Facts About Women and Heart Disease. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts

2Cheesman Day, C., Christnacht, C. (2019, August 14). Women Hold 76% of All Health Care Jobs, Gaining in Higher-Paying Occupations. The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/08/your-health-care-in-womens-hands.html

Healthcare Trends in 2022: Top 6 Needs to Consider for Medical Groups

The pandemic has accelerated some of the healthcare trends that were on the rise before 2020. In our interview with Dr. Rodrigo Martínez, practicing otolaryngologist and Chief Medical Officer with PerfectServe, and Matt Kothe, Manager of Corporate Communications, they unpack the six factors healthcare organizations need to understand for their staff and patients.

Read below for a deeper explanation of these trends and needs expressed in the interview with Dr. Martínez.

Digital Transformation Management

Digital tools allow individuals to send messages through methods like HIPAA-compliant secure messaging. Whether it’s between clinicians, or to patients and family members, it’s crucial to implement a controlled workflow for this communication. Without digital management in your healthcare system, you run the risk of potentially overwhelming clinicians, which is less than ideal given observed burnout levels across the industry.

When a patient takes time to log into a portal and send a message, not getting a timely response can dissuade them from trying to engage with their healthcare provider in the future. If that patient includes important medical information and nothing is being done, it can have devastating consequences.

Here are a few questions an organization can ask when setting up new technologies:

  • Is someone sending a message to someone else? 
  • If yes, who is it going to, and who is responding? 
  • Does the current workflow include the appropriate recipient?

Developing basic workflow hygiene will help, especially when the communication involves time-sensitive medical issues. 

Adapt to Competitors

With consumer behaviors evolving, the ability to create a better patient experience is key to the success of your organization. Competitors like large retail pharmacies now offer on-site healthcare services, with customized, easy reminders and interfaces for patients. They are leveraging technology to provide all-encompassing healthcare services—a push health systems can no longer ignore.

A few examples:

  • CVS Pharmacies now have the ability to schedule appointments and exchange information online, in addition to having a pharmacy on site. CVS offers services for their walk-in patients called the MinuteClinic®, which provides care similar to a primary provider for things like skin conditions, minor illnesses, and wellness check-ups.
  • Walgreens started offering similar walk-in services at their Community Clinic in 2017, treating chronic conditions and patients 12 months and older.
  • One Medical is also leveraging technology to provide a more all-encompassing healthcare approach and currently offers options in major cities across the U.S.

Interoperability

Sharing critical information with competitors hasn’t been in the best interests of many companies. Instead, the burden of moving or transmitting medical records from one format or location to another often falls to clinicians, nurses, and even the patients themselves.

In non-clinical settings, it’s possible to send an SMS message using multiple tools, but the problem is you cannot typically send messages between these tools. Exchange standards have not been established, and connecting these disparate tools is challenging. Even so, progress has still been made between a few EHR vendors, which use technology that functions as an intermediary.

True interoperability with “one app to rule them all” is not a reality at the moment, but it’s still the “holy grail” of healthcare technology needs. Not enough tools are robust or extensive enough to handle the complexities of modern healthcare. However, solutions are underway to build integrations and other interoperability workflows, such as PerfectServe’s simple one-tap messaging features.

Address Provider Wellness and Burnout

There is no silver bullet for improving clinician wellness by addressing burnout. Pre-pandemic burnout influences are certainly different from the ones experienced post-pandemic. In the initial phase of the pandemic, even with the overwhelming number of sick patients, clinicians and providers rose to the challenge, thinking, “Okay, this is what I’ve trained for all of my life.”

But, the simple truth is that sustaining an emergency state can tire and negatively impact humans in a very profound way. It creates unendurable situations where people are physically and emotionally drained. Adding to the challenge is the fact that a sizable portion of the population in the United States has not been vaccinated, which has created a bit of an “empathy gap” for some medical professionals who desperately need relief but continue to see avoidable COVID hospitalizations. When developing technology, it’s important to be sensitive to current circumstances so you can offset some of the more onerous inputs clinicians deal with every day.

Nursing Shortage

Nursing shortages affect all layers of healthcare. This trend has been on the radar for a while, but the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the problem as some nurses have left the profession entirely for a number of reasons. Further, if you’re a nurse or physician, you’re also a husband, wife, brother, sister, son, or daughter. If your loved ones get sick, you’re not able to serve patients at the same time. When you throw in additional patient surges, it makes the workload of those who remain more challenging, creating a snowball effect.

Empathy in Healthcare Technology

The people on the front lines of the pandemic have always been heroes, but their efforts have truly been herculean over the past few years. If we develop collaboration technology in these circumstances—which PerfectServe certainly does—we have to be proactive and responsive to current needs while using our product innovations to offset and redirect some of the administrative or logistical inputs that add to care team toil. Much of PerfectServe’s technology reduces these kind of burdens for health systems and their staff every day.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Invest in the Patient Experience

In the U.S., healthcare is not just the individual interactions between a patient and their physician, nurse practitioner, or other caregiver. It takes a team to provide optimal care for an individual patient. Examining how to facilitate and maintain these workflows efficiently needs to be at the forefront of patient care.

Healthcare Technology Solutions for Patients

When designing clinical collaboration solutions, healthcare software providers need to keep the patient experience in mind.

As people grow older and acquire chronic diseases, personalizing care will be important. We have the remote technology to reach patients outside clinic and hospital walls, yet it’s the application and collaboration of these tools that will make a difference in patient outcomes.

As more emphasis is placed on taking care of patients at a distance, the pandemic has forced us to move into the realm of what you might call “healthcare 2.0.” Some of these advances are long overdue, while others are just in the beginning stages.

The intelligent application of analytics and AI could help siphon through data to emphasize important things so the right people can take timely action, or automate the correct action. Using technology this way should ultimately lead to improved and more personalized care for all patients.

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery

What comes to mind when you think of an ideal experience with a provider?

Whether it’s seeing your physician, having an interaction with a nurse in the hospital, or a visiting with a team of chronic disease care nurses, these consultations can happen face-to-face, by phone, or over a video call.

With technology, you can start collecting most of the information for better care ahead of time without having to wait for a live interaction, minimizing the need to fill paper forms on-site.

How does this help healthcare professionals and their patients?

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery Outcomes

Asynchronous technology offers a new convenience for individuals who are comfortable revealing their information to the healthcare provider, feeling confident everything has been packaged correctly in written form. Many adults don’t seek in-person care because it can be inconvenient, taking hours to plan and get to a clinic. This technology creates more convenient methods for patients to seek quality care.

It allows access to healthcare for individuals whose schedule may not align with the provider at the moment of the live visit. This helps care team members in the prioritization process. Digital, asynchronous technology can allow one person to interact with many people, improving care outcomes for all of them.

Safe and Transparent Healthcare Communication

Technology helps medical providers gather a lot of patient information ahead of time, and it allows everything to be collected and then placed in a queue so a human can review it. A digital intake form is just one example, and sometimes patients are more comfortable writing down a message about their health condition versus talking about it during a face-to-face interaction. Sometimes patients prefer a phone call and don’t want to be seen on Zoom, or they’re perfectly happy writing out information for the physician to get back to them.

Why Secure Medical Texting Works Better for Patients

Secure Text Messaging for Physicians and Medical Practices

When your staff books an appointment with patients over the phone, there’s no guarantee they will come. Patients may miss or skip medical appointments for a variety of reasons: fear, overlapping commitments, lack of resources, or even just forgetfulness. That’s why it’s crucial to tap into habits patients already use for their personal and professional lives, such as calendar invites and text reminders.1

We’re all patients, and we rely on our phones—a lot. So why not engage patients on their own devices? It’s a solid bet that text messaging will continue to be the number one form of communication cross-generationally among the general public.

“91.9% of patients agreed that text updates helped them avoid calling the office.”2

Patients Check Text Messages More Than Email

Text messaging is one of the fastest and most successful ways to engage with patients. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate and are typically read within the first few minutes of delivery. By comparison, email open rates only average between 12-25%.3

Do you know how many times Americans check their phones? 160 times a day.4 That’s more than enough to deliver a critical message to a patient or care team member.

Mobile phone usage transcends economic barriers. If a patient doesn’t have access to transportation, a reminder text message could allow them time to get assistance from a rideshare program. One medical provider sent three text reminders to inform patients of the Lyft vehicle picking them up, along with three more follow-up texts after the visit to ensure they arrived home safely. From this effort, patient show rates improved from 54% to 68%.5

These strategies reduce emergency department visits, especially if the clinic partners with social support services or similar rideshare programs. In addition, sending appointment reminders to patients with chronic conditions via text can help them stay on top of their needs and improve their road to recovery.

Texting may offer an efficient, inexpensive way to give a voice to people who aren’t often heard and whose needs aren’t always met.6

Two Reasons Patients Prefer Secure Healthcare Messages

HIPAA rules state that the law “does not prohibit the use of text messaging in healthcare. It is perfectly acceptable for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to communicate with each other—and even patients—via text message.”7 While this is true, certain protections and safeguards still need to be in place to maintain secure PHI, and the data must be encrypted. Using a secure text message system will reduce the friction of communication barriers for both healthcare providers and their patients.

#1 – Secure Text Reminders Keep Patients Engaged

Patients are busy. They may be at work, with family, or lack methods in which to reach the medical office. When they are able to call and check on their appointment, medical staff may not be available to take the message. Sending a text message appointment reminder with a HIPAA-compliant system may decrease those communication errors and missed calls. Another way to alleviate this tension is to set up one-way message reminders regarding patient prescriptions and appointments.

Learn how one medical practice used this method to reduce patient no-shows.

#2 – Forgot Your Portal Login? A Secure Medical Text Might Solve the Problem

Fewer than 25% of patients activate an account for their provider’s patient portal.8 Maybe a lot happened during an appointment, and the physician typed a mountain of notes in the portal. The details and care instructions were clearly defined and detailed. But does the patient know this? Not if they never access the portal.

Using text to support post-appointment instructions such as specialist referrals, medication adherence, or exercises can be a great way to increase patient engagement. Patients could use the secure link to inquire about their treatment, and the provider can respond with clarifying questions and care guidance. A secure, two-way system enables providers to text patients without receiving a flood of calls on their personal device. This mitigates patient call volume, especially on holiday weekends and more typical Saturdays and Sundays.

Rather than getting bogged down with interactions that leave patients with more questions than answers and doctors with directives that go unfollowed, connected care technology promotes a more interactive relationship around treatment.9

Why Text Messaging is the Future of Patient Engagement

#1 – It Keeps Clinical Communication Efficient

Instead of stockpiling 30+ voicemails until the office opens, why not route those calls to the appropriate care team member as needed? Using voice-to-text (V2T) technology can reduce medical transcription errors and confirm an accurate message gets delivered and received by the current on-call provider. A patient call experience could look like this:

Physician Messaging System: “Dr. Driver is on call this afternoon. Please call them at 999-999-9999.” 

Patient: “Hi Doc, is it okay if I take another aspirin after 2 o’clock today? I need to know as I’m still experiencing a lot of pain.”

Using the V2T technology to send the information, Dr. Driver could get the simple alert and decide to respond with a secure message. Combined with masking their personal number, they could send a HIPAA-secure link to initiate a virtual appointment if necessary.

#2 – It Improves Care Delivery Outcomes and Provides Valuable Feedback

Need a feedback loop to understand why patients skipped their last few appointments? What about measuring patient satisfaction scores? Send out your next patient satisfaction survey through a secure medical text.

Patients are more likely to leave an honest review about your medical practice if you follow up after the appointment. Armed with patient feedback, medical practice managers and hospital leaders can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and allocate resources to improve patient outcomes.

Texting is here to stay, and you can utilize it to reduce costs, save time, and better engage patients.

Is it time to rethink your patient communication strategies?

See this research guide on supporting value-based care initiatives for patients through secure text. Better communication = better outcomes.

1Norman, Abby. (2020, January 21). 4 Reasons People Don’t Go to the Doctor. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-people-dont-go-to-the-doctor-4779661

2Campbell, K., Blackburn, B. Erickson, J., Pelt, C., Anderson, L., Peters, C., Gililland, J. (2021). Evaluating the Utility of Using Text Messages to Communicate With Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 5(6).

3What Are the Average Click and Read Rates for Email Campaigns? Campaign Monitor. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-are-the-average-click-and-read-rates-for-email-campaigns/

4Dobrilova, T. (2021, December 7). 35+ Must-Know SMS Marketing Statistics in 2021. TechJury. https://techjury.net/blog/sms-marketing-statistics/#gref

5Chaiyachati, K., Hubbard, R., Yeager, A., Mugo, B., Shea, J., Rosin, R., Grande, D. (2018, June). Rideshare-Based Medical Transportation for Medicaid Patients and Primary Care Show Rates: A Difference-in-Difference Analysis of a Pilot Program. J GEN INTERN MED 33(6), 863–868. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4306-0

6Chang, T. Text messaging connects people to healthier habits, researchers to urban subjects. University of Michigan Health: Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/text-messaging-connects-people-healthier-habits-researchers-urban-subjects

7HIPAA Journal. Text Messaging in Healthcare. https://www.hipaajournal.com/text-messaging-in-healthcare/

8Campbell, et al.

9Kennedy, R. (2021 November 12). 5 Ways Tech and Care Delivery Models Get Payers Closer to the Quadruple Aim. Managed Healthcare Executive. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/5-ways-tech-and-care-delivery-models-get-payers-closer-to-the-quadruple-aim

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.

Improve Healthcare Operations With Clinical Workforce Analytics

“Although caregivers are burdened with reporting reams of information, they rarely consistently track the health outcomes that matter most to patients and thus to themselves as clinicians.”1

With rising labor costs,2 growing expenses, falling EBITDA, and decreasing operating margins,3 healthcare organizations need new strategies for controlling costs and improving clinical communication workflows. While analytics are often used to inform strategic decision making such as supply chain management, healthcare organizations may miss the opportunity to use analytics to maximize their most important resource: their clinical workforce.

Let’s explore how an advanced provider scheduling solution can deliver analytics that plays an essential role in improving healthcare operations.

Four Ways Workforce Analytics Improve Operations

  1. Reduce waste by adjusting staff levels to meet trends in patient demand and value-based care.
  2. Ensure patient access and minimize leakage by maximizing clinical communications capacity across locations.
  3. Improve provider retention and reduce physician and nurse burnout by increasing work-life balance and schedule autonomy.
  4. Optimize clinical staffing models to enhance productivity.

1. Reduce Wasted Resources

Advanced scheduling analytics allow your organization to identify trends in patient demand. Assess service utilization across departments and clinic locations to adjust staffing levels over time. You can analyze demand for specific services, determine the number of clinicians needed to deliver those services for a given timeframe, and reduce staff and labor costs when patient demand is lower. For example:

The Chief of Surgery wants to better understand seasonal trends in patient demand for elective surgeries. He runs a report and finds that case numbers are much lower during January and February. With granular insights into provider supply and patient demand, he is able to project exactly how many surgeons are needed during each shift. He asks the department scheduler to reduce staffing levels for January and February.

2. Ensure Patient Access

After using analytics to identify trends in patient demand, you can respond to rising demand by proactively increasing staff levels to improve patient access and increase revenue. For example:

The Emergency Department’s Medical Director runs a report and finds that during the summer months, the need for pediatric emergency care greatly increases. Currently, the team only staffs a single pediatric emergency physician. The Medical Director contacts the department scheduler and requests for a pediatric advanced practice provider to be added to the schedule for June through August.

In the example above, the ED (Emergency Department) has both increased patient access to pediatric emergency care and increased clinical capacity—helping the department generate more revenue based on a particularly common type of service for the specific timeframe. With trends in value-based care, this pediatric practice can improve patient satisfaction.

3. Improve Provider Retention

A key approach to cost reduction is to improve provider retention. Replacing a single physician can cost anywhere from $500,000 up to $1 million, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).4 This means focusing on provider satisfaction and retention could save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report, spending too many hours at work is a key contributor to provider burnout.5 But what is the definition of “too many hours” and how can you help prevent provider schedules from reaching the threshold?

Scheduling analytics help ensure certain shifts, like weekends and calls, are evenly distributed across a team of providers. You can share reports with your team that show even shift distribution. This eliminates any possible suspicion of unfairness, which may not completely eliminate the issue of spending too many hours at work, but it helps address a source of provider dissatisfaction.

4. Optimize Staffing Models

Not all providers and care team members are alike. Some prefer to work more than others, some practice part-time, and they each vary in their preferences and productivity levels, making it challenging to optimize staffing models by specialization and availability alone. Advanced medical analytics reporting provides the details needed to enhance your organization’s staffing models for productivity.

Over time, you can note which providers are more productive during specific shift times to create rules that schedule individual providers for their most productive shifts. You can then review the larger impact of certain staffing models on productivity and adjust your scheduling rules on a macro level. Without scheduling analytics, this type of insight and optimization is nearly impossible. With the evolving demands and expectations in healthcare, it is also essential.

 

Reduce Poor Workflows and Improve Patient Response Times

 

Interested in improving operations, reducing labor costs, and increasing patient and provider satisfaction with better clinical scheduling?

Learn more about the clinical workforce analytics available in our Optimized Provider Scheduling solution and how they can enhance your organization’s operations.

Resources:

  1. Tiesberg T, Wallace S, O’Hara S. Defining and Implementing Value-Based Health Care: A Strategic Framework. Academic Med. 2020 May; 95(5):682-685. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000003122
  2. Labor Management Trends, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Navigant, Aug. 2018: guidehouse.com/-/media/www/site/insights/healthcare/2018/navigant-hfma-2018-labor-pulse-survey.pdf
  3. Hospital profitability withers in November as volumes, revenues lag, Becker’s Healthcare, Morgan Haefner, Becker’s Healthcare Review, Jan. 2, 2020: beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospital-profitability-withers-in-november-as-volume-revenues-lag.html
  4. At Stanford, physician burnout costs at least $7.75 million a year, American Medical Association, Sara Berg, American Medical Association, Nov. 17, 2017: ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/stanfordphysician-burnout-costs-least-775-million-year
  5. Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020: The Generational Divide, Medscape, January 15, 2020: medscape.com/slideshow/2020-lifestyle-burnout-6012460 – 5