Archive for January, 2013

Patient registration: the impact of an error-prone process

Written by Jay Lawrence on January 28th, 2013. Posted in Hospital kiosk, Hospital process redesign, Patient registrations, Patient Self-Service

Patient registration form Patient registration: the impact of an error prone processConcerned about data errors introduced through your patient registration process?

If not, you should be.

Errors—even seemingly small ones—represent not only a significant financial burden, but your ability to provide proper patient care.

In other words, your error-prone patient registration system may be hurting the very people you’re trying to help.

The cost of “rework”

Research shows that up to 80% of billing office staff time is dedicated to rework due to registration data errors and incomplete information.

For example, a missing guarantor or subscriber information, invalid policy or group number, or missing authorization can lead to insurance claim delays and denials.

Almost 100% of all claims must be submitted to insurance companies more than once—in fact, this study reports that insurers must go back to hospitals two times on average to get all the information needed to pay a claim.

In the US, healthcare administration consumes more than one-third of healthcare costs. This can likely be blamed in part to delayed or lost billing revenues arising from claims denials—which can cost a hospital millions of dollars.

Increased patient risks

Every single error also elevates the risk to patient safety (not to mention a legal risk to healthcare providers).

Duplicate medical records are one of the most critical issues facing health information technology departments. Most often, they are created as a result of inaccurate data entry.

With the existence of multiple records for a single patient, it is likely that healthcare providers will miss critical information because it is located in the duplicate. They may also have trouble locating certain files when needed for patient interactions.

Building a foundation to reduce errors

More often than not, patient data errors introduced through registration are the result of registrar human error, incorrect information provided by the patient, or a change in the patient’s information.

But fixing an error after it happens simply isn’t a cost-efficient use of your healthcare facility’s time or resources.

The solution is to build a foundation for accurate, clean data.

A patient self-service kiosk is a preventative (rather than reactive) solution that helps reduce the potential for registration errors before they can occur, by:

  • eliminating, if not reducing, the need for patients to interact with staff to register/check-in;
  • making it easy for patients to validate and correct their demographic information through customized prompts; and
  • frees up staff’s time by automating many registrar tasks such as printing forms, wristbands, updating tracking boards and other systems, and even logging data to databases.

The quality of your patient registration data is critical to the work you do, and how well you do it. If you haven’t yet considered the havoc that errors can have on your finances and patients, now’s the time to start paying attention.

Privacy breaches in the waiting room: how your check-in process affects patient safety

Written by Jay Lawrence on January 21st, 2013. Posted in Healthcare Technology, Hospital kiosk, Hospital process redesign, Patient registrations, Patient Self-Service

Waiting room privacy Privacy breaches in the waiting room: how your check in process affects patient safety“Why do you need to see the doctor today?”

“Um…I have [insert embarrassing symptoms here]…”

Each question asked and answered in a waiting room represents a risk of privacy breach, and, consequently, a threat to patient safety.

Consider how uncomfortable it already is for a patient to discuss their symptoms, conditions and test results. But if they believe others in the waiting room can hear them, they may also be more likely to:

  • withhold important medical information; and/or
  • speak in hushed tones, rendering speech recognition less accurate—and leading to medical errors.

In other words, if the patient’s perception of privacy is threatened, their way of dealing with it may actually put their own personal safety at risk.

And to boot, a breach of patient confidentiality can negatively impact their trust in your healthcare team—even resulting in them taking their business elsewhere.

Do you have an auditory privacy problem?

You don’t have to be a sound engineer to figure out if your waiting room has a problem with oral privacy. Just listen.

  • Can seated patients in the waiting area hear others as they check in with the receptionist?
  • Can people standing in line hear conversations that are meant to be private?

If you answer yes to either of these questions, you should consider creating safeguards to better protect your patients’ confidentiality.

Transforming your registration / check-in process

There are several ways to minimize the possibility of privacy breach between staff and patients.

For example, music or a television can help drive focus away from the registration desk; and acoustic ceilings, carpeting, and barriers like doors and walls can help with noise.

But the most effective solution may be to make changes to your actual registration/check-in process.

In a 2012 PatientWay client survey, more than one-third of respondents said that patients complain about cramming people too closely in a lineup, as it puts their privacy at risk.

Consider making changes to the way patients share information with staff upon arrival, such as:

  • Asking patients to stand a few feet back from the registration counter.
  • Creating a waiting barrier line by placing tape on the floor with a sign saying “Please wait here.”
  • Implementing a patient self-service kiosk. Many patients prefer the experience of checking in using a kiosk to registering with a nurse or administrator. Patients can enter their personal data on a touch screen designed to prevent others from reading it at an angle. This allows patients to provide sensitive information much more discretely than they would face-to-face with an administrator at the check-in desk.

By providing a waiting room where patients can disclose their personal information freely and comfortably, you will not only help decrease the risk of privacy breach: you will also increase patient safety, and maintain their loyalty.

Patients want it. Do you have it?

Written by Jay Lawrence on January 14th, 2013. Posted in Electronic medical records, Healthcare Technology, Patient Self-Service

M 0641 Patients want it. Do you have it?By Jay Lawrence, CEO, PatientWay

At PatientWay, we operate on the belief that patients are the most under-utilized resource in healthcare.

Why? Because as a group, the very people who your healthcare organization serves have the potential to:

  • reduce long registration line-ups,
  • decrease the potential for patient data mistakes, and
  • free up time for staff to conduct high-value activities.

And great news: patients actually want to be used.

In fact, 90% of patients in an Accenture 2012 report state that they want to self-manage their healthcare through technology.

Self-service: patient demand growing

It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise that patient demand for self-service—the ability to serve oneself—is on the rise.

After all, such technology offers flexibility and convenience in many other parts of peoples’ lives, allowing them to do things like:

  • withdraw money from an ATM,
  • scan items at the grocery store,
  • print off flight boarding tickets, and
  • rent DVDs through automated kiosks.

In his book High Tech, High Touch Customer Service, author Micah Solomon attributes this growing trend to peoples’ quest for autonomy. As people grow more used to augmenting human service providers with self-service options, so too do their expectations that all industries—including healthcare—will provide that channel.

In other words, today’s patients expect to receive the same level of convenience that they are used to receiving from other industries.

The next few years in healthcare

We are seeing a growing trend in healthcare as more and more hospitals and physician practices adopt new technologies, including check-in kiosks and patient web portals.

Moreover, 89% of doctors in 2011 either had, or were planning to have, electronic health records in place by 2013.

An EHR/EMR system will certainly continue to drive the adoption of complementary applications—such as self-service—to streamline other processes including patient registration and check-in.

Still think patients don’t want it?

If you haven’t implemented or even considered self-service technology for fear that patients don’t want it, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Consider the following from a 2009 survey: 70% of Americans are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that reduces frustration by providing the flexibility to interact easily via online, mobile and (self-self) kiosk.

As Solomon puts it in his book, “Self-service isn’t just the wave of the future; it’s the reality of the present. Embrace it—your customers already have.”

5 principles of successful self-service

Written by Jay Lawrence on January 7th, 2013. Posted in Healthcare strategy, Healthcare Technology, Hospital kiosk, Hospital management, Patient satisfaction, Patient Self-Service

Book1 5 principles of successful self serviceBy Jay Lawrence, CEO, PatientWay

I recently read Micah Solomon’s book High-Tech, High Touch Customer Service, in which the author echoed a lot of what PatientWay has been telling its clients for years.

Namely, it’s not enough to implement a self-service channel for “users” (or in healthcare’s case, patients): there are many other factors that must be considered for your technology to be deemed successful.

Here are a few of Solomon’s principles which lead to a successful implementation, and how I see it relating to healthcare:

1.   Customers need a choice of channels

Self-service can’t be mandatory. If a patient wants to speak with an actual person to check in for their appointment, let them! Being in a healthcare environment is stressful enough for the ordinary person without having such options available to them.

2.   Don’t make your users think about your organizational structure

All patients need to know is where to go, and who to speak to. They don’t need to know the confusing hierarchy of each and every person in your hospital. Keep your self-service channel simple.

3.   Usability is a science that needs to be respected

There are many tried-and-true practices out there regarding peoples’ ability to use self-service technology. Don’t go trying to reinvent the wheel—pay attention to what has worked for other hospitals and medical clinics.

4.   Self-service can’t be set and forgotten: it’s an endless work-in-progress

Your self-service technology may be working great—at least, technically. But what do your patients and visitors (not to mention your staff) think of it? You need to monitor and review usage regularly, to ensure it’s doing its job the way you originally intended.

5.   Your staff needs to have used—recently—your self-service channel(s)

Your medical staff can be your organization’s strongest advocates for self-service…but only if they understand how it works. Ensure they are well-trained in its usage—and that they try it out semi-regularly, so they are able to talk intelligently with patients and visitors about it.

Solomon’s book is a great overview of how technology and customer service can consistently work together to meet the growing expectations of the public.

Ultimately, his goal is to help organizations “touch customers in a way that builds true customer loyalty—loyalty you can bank.”

In healthcare, that’s something we can all aspire to.

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