Maximizing Outcomes in the Post-Acute Care Space

Maximizing Outcomes in the Post-Acute Care Space

How an award-winning, patient-centric engagement platform can transform the provider experience and increase patient satisfaction

Earlier this month, Casamba, a leader in EMR software in the post-acute space added Relatient to its list of partners for use in their post-acute outpatient care settings. Casamba users at over 10,500 locations across the country include healthcare settings like home health, outpatient therapy, hospice, skilled nursing, and more. Patient engagement in post-acute care settings offers enormous opportunity to better engage patients, streamline workflows, and maximize outcomes. 

Mobile-first patient engagement offers both providers, staff, and patients ease and convenience that traditional workflows can’t offer, including:

  • Appointment Reminders – to reduce no-shows with unlimited voice, email, and text and deliver medical appointment reminders
  • No-Show Reengagement – to automatically follow-up and get no-shows rescheduled
  • Broadcast Demand Messaging – to save time updating patient groups on-demand with text, email, and/or voice
  • Relatient Surveys and Reputation Management – to get more 5-star reviews and receive patient feedback to improve your medical practice and its online reputation
  • Two-Way Texting & Secure Messaging – to end phone tag with real-time, one-to-one patient messaging. Send and receive texts with patients using 2-way Messenger Chat, or safely share PHI with HIPAA-Compliant, 2-way, Secure Messaging

We’re excited to be powering healthcare’s digital front door with the patient engagement platform that KLAS names 2020 Category Leader in Patient Outreach and supported by Relatient’s U.S.-based Technical Support team, efficient implementation, project management, and training. For more information, visit www.relatient.net.

ABOUT RELATIENT

Relatient was recently named the #1 Category Leader for 2020 in “Patient Outreach” by KLAS, a healthcare IT research firm providing the industry with accurate, honest, and impartial data to determine the leaders who help healthcare professionals provide better care. With over 28,000 providers utilizing Relatient’s patient engagement platform, medical offices and health systems have seen no-show rates reduce significantly, improved efficiency, and increased patient satisfaction.

ABOUT CASAMBA

CASAMBA LLC is a leader in EMR software for post-acute care. Our solutions help manage everyday clinical tasks, billing, and scheduling functionality. Our healthcare IT solutions are designed to maximize both business and clinical success for providers across the entire continuum of post-acute care. Casamba provides EMR software for post-acute care providers, contract therapy, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, and home health and hospice care settings.

Learn how Cerner & Relatient work to reduce no-shows and more with automated patient engagement.

The post Maximizing Outcomes in the Post-Acute Care Space appeared first on Relatient.


Source: Maximizing Outcomes in the Post-Acute Care Space

University Physicians’ Association Increases Patient Payments 43% with Mobile-First Billing

University Physicians’ Association Increases Patient Payments 43% with Mobile-First Billing

Streamline Revenue Cycle Management operations and extend a patient-friendly financial experience to patients and caregivers.

Inundated with patient phone calls and a complex process for posting charges across multiple patient accounts, University Physicians’ Association (UPA) Vice President, Christy Bailey, knew it was time to streamline their Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) operations and extend a patient-friendly financial experience to patients and caregivers. A trusted advisor to medical practices across East Tennessee, UPA manages medical billing services for over 475 physicians in Knoxville, TN. When it came to choosing a partner to help them revamp their patient billing process, Bailey knew they would need someone sophisticated enough to handle their complex customer base. 

“We serve a variety of physician specialties and those providers trust us to manage their revenue cycles with accuracy and precision,” Bailey told us. “Effective RCM is growing more complicated as patients absorb more and more of the financial burden of their care, those balances are harder to collect and can feed a longer revenue cycle and even bad debt. We needed a partner with the flexibility to handle 100+ physician groups and the integration to make it seamless for our billing staff”.

Relatient had the mobile-first solutions and custom workflows UPA needed, now nearly 60% of patient payments are made digitally.

And that number keeps growing. Mobile payments are also speeding the revenue cycle as patients are more likely to respond to text messages than paper statements, helping UPA reduce A/R days by over 10%.

Flexibility was key to meeting patient needs.

To UPA, a patient-centered billing experience meant accommodating varying demographics. They needed the ability to extend self-service tools like mobile payments to the majority of patients who want this kind of access without neglecting patients who still prefer to interact over a phone call. Relatient’s patient-facing solutions allowed UPA to accomplish this while also streamlining its back-end operations. 

UPA staff can now take one patient payment and apply it appropriately to multiple balances without closing and opening multiple programs. Additionally, Relatient’s bi-directional integration with Greenway means mobile payments are auto-posted to the appropriate patient accounts, as designated by the patient, something many payment solutions can’t do.

Self-service guarantees impartial payment distribution and empowers patients.

RCM leaders, like UPA, who serve hundreds of physicians within a region are entrusted to serve each physician or physician group the same. Digital tools like MDpay automate this process and ensure impartiality when distributing patient payments.

“The impartial distribution of patient payments is so incredibly important,” Bailey explained, “as an RCM vendor, we vow to represent each provider entity equally, that’s something MDpay does for us. With MDpay and patient balance messaging, we give each patient a unique payment link via text and email, and when they click on the link it shows them all their current balances and empowers them to indicate where they want to attribute their payments.”

  • 43% increase in patient payments
  • 7% increase in monthly provider revenue 
  • 57% of payments now made digitally
  • 10.5% reduction in A/R days

Download the Case Study

Solutions:

Integration:

  • Greenway

Get a free demo of Relatient’s patient-centered engagement software.

See why 10,000+ physicians trust us with their patients and businesses, and learn how we can help you:

  • Reduce no-shows
  • Increase patient balance collection
  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • Transition to value-based care
  • Optimize your office operations
  • Automate patient outreach
  • Increase compliance

 

Yes, I want a demo

hbspt.forms.create({
css: ”,
portalId: ‘2735326’,
formId: ‘9db46c0e-d421-4381-b9e4-40aea2d24473’
});

The post University Physicians’ Association Increases Patient Payments 43% with Mobile-First Billing appeared first on Relatient.


Source: University Physicians’ Association Increases Patient Payments 43% with Mobile-First Billing

HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat: Why Medical Practices are Texting Patients

Introduction 

Medical practices have made major strides towards patient-centered strategies, swapping manual and paper-based processes for digital options, like automated appointment reminders and digital patient check-in. But it’s time to take it further with HIPAA-compliant messaging and chat because patients do the majority of their communicating via text message and they don’t always choose pre-programmed responses to automated solutions. What happens when in place of responding, “1 to confirm, 2 to reschedule, or 3 to cancel”, a patient responds to a text reminder with a thumbs-up emoji or a question like, “yes, but where should I park?” 

Patients don’t always behave within the confines we define for them, so medical offices need strategies that empower them to respond to patients accordingly. This is where HIPAA-compliant and chat software is so important to medical practices who want to engage their patients effectively. There are many applications for these strategies and reasons why medical practices who don’t adopt some form of patient messaging will struggle to keep up with the changing market dynamics and patient expectations. 

The COVID-19 pandemic only heightened the need for HIPAA-compliant and two-way patient messaging options as both providers and patients became more aware of the need to limit face-to-face contact with others and medical office staff began fielding rapid-fire questions from patients who had new questions about how to navigate healthcare in a pandemic. 

What is HIPAA-Compliant Patient Messaging? 

HIPAA-compliant messaging is a software service that enables medical providers and medical office staff to communicate with patients in a text-like environment. These strategies allow patients to send and receive messages like they do other text messages while offering medical office staff and providers the visibility of a platform to see patient messages at a glance, track which ones have been replied-to and which ones are still awaiting a response. 

HIPAA-compliant messaging differs from standard two-way chat solutions because the messaging is protected by a unique patient-specific link and authorization, ensuring PHI doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. While two-way patient chat via SMS is a great solution for non-PHI questions like where to park, changes in hours, new telehealth options, or to notify the other party that the patient or provider is running behind, it can’t protect PHI. HIPAA-compliant solutions protect this information and the best solutions on the market know how to protect patient information without requiring patients to log-in with a username or password—more on that below. 

Why is HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat Important? 

HIPAA-compliant messaging and patient chat software is an important component of a medical practice’s patient engagement strategy because it offers flexibility, expands patient access, and reaches patients using technology they’ve already adopted. It’s common for healthcare organizations to adopt technology that serves organizations and providers well only to struggle with patient adoption, patient-centered strategies like two-way patient messaging, leverage technology (like SMS) that patients already use to communicate with and engage patients. 

How Is HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat Used? 

There are many applications for the use of text and messaging with patients in a medical office, some of which were widely recognized prior to COVID-19 and others that surfaced in the midst of the pandemic. Take a look at how medical offices, hospitals, and health systems are using both HIPAA-compliant messaging and patient chat software to bring efficiency to their daily workflows and better engage their patients throughout the patient journey. 

Phone & Triage Nurse

Medical offices often assign a nurse to cover the phone for patient questions each day. Without a text/messaging option for patients, both nurses and patients are left to play a lot of phone tag as the Triage Nurse or Phone Nurse can only take one call at a time. With patient messaging software, clinical staff can view all patient messages at a glance, identify non-PHI questions for a front desk staff member or simply answer them quickly themselves while using a secure messaging option for patients who have clinical questions. In this scenario, patient messaging offers staff greater flexibility and bandwidth to answer patient questions and reduces the amount of time it takes to respond to patient questions. 

Helping Support Telehealth 

Even tech-savvy patients can have a hard time with a new platform or process but can often be helped with a simple answer. Patient messaging makes it easier to help patient navigate televisits, something many providers didn’t offer prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is now widely available to patients. Troubleshooting and questions about unique links, length of visit, whether the provider is ready, etc. can all be answered without requiring patients or medical office staff to dial a phone number. 

Post-Discharge or Post-Procedure Follow-Up

While triage is initiated when a patient reaches out to a medical provider, HIPAA-compliant patient messaging can also be used to initiate a conversation from provider to patient. When a patient is discharged from an inpatient stay, their records are often sent to their regular providers who then reach out to follow-up. Providers also work hard to follow-up with their patients post-procedure, whether it be something they did in the clinic or through a same-day surgery center. Two-way messaging, specifically HIPAA-compliant messaging, empowers physicians to do this using a form of communication that is more likely to successfully reach their patients and yield a response. Some HIPAA-compliant platforms even allow for patients to send pictures or documents to their medical providers, making post-operative questions easier to answer. 

Sharing Normal Test Results 

While difficult news and test results are best delivered in person and at the very least, over the phone, normal lab results can often be delivered less personally. HIPAA-compliant patient messaging makes it easier for providers to deliver normal lab results and makes it possible for patients to receive those results more quickly, easing anxiety and fear more quickly. And because patients are more likely to view a text than listen to a voicemail when they are already tied up in another activity, great news travels faster to the patient. 

Answering Simple Patient Questions Quickly & Easily 

Sometimes a HIPAA-compliant solution isn’t necessary when patients have simple questions like where to park, can they bring a support-person, will they be required to wear a mask, or just want to notify staff of a short delay. Medical practice staff can keep the office flowing smoothly and receive information more quickly when patients have a text option. 

Improving the Patient Experience

Patients have come to expect mobile access to their healthcare providers thanks to similar accessibility in other consumer industries. Though healthcare has not historically been viewed as a consumer industry, it should be as patients now contribute up to 30% of provider revenue and have many options for how to access care. Providers who want to ensure they not only maintain their current patient census but build upon it should be ready to engage patients the way patients prefer to engage. Patient messaging helps providers do this, building loyalty with their patients and offering the ease and convenience patients expect. 

To Support a Virtual Waiting Room

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a lot of creativity as medical providers looked for new ways to mitigate the risk of exposure for both their patients and their staff. Virtual waiting rooms became the norm, allowing patients to check-in for appointments from their phones and wait in their vehicles until an exam room is ready. Patient messaging has helped make this possible, allowing patients to text their medical provider’s office when they arrive for an appointment. 

Do you need both secure & non-secure patient two-way patient chat? 

While you don’t have to have both, we highly recommend it.  If you offer patients the ability to communicate with your office via a chat/text function, you’ll want to account for the HIPAA-compliant component because patients will inevitably assume they can use text for all their questions and patient needs. In the case that a patient initiates a clinical question or PHI-sensitive conversation via a text message, you’ll want to have the option to switch the conversation to a secure message to both protect the patient’s privacy and ensure you remain in compliance with regulatory and privacy standards. 

The good news is that some patient engagement vendors offer a non-HIPAA-compliant version of patient texting or messaging for free or include it as a part of a bundled product offering, charging only for the secure or HIPAA-compliant product. 

What to Look for in a HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat Vendor

Let’s start with a disclaimer: Relatient offers both Secure Messaging (HIPAA-compliant) and Patient Chat Messenger. In fact, Relatient is the 2020 KLAS Category Leader in Patient Outreach, so this is pretty near and dear to us. We not only think it’s important, we think it can significantly help medical providers, practices, hospitals, and health systems create healthier communities and keep their patients engaged in their care and connected to the practice. That said, we always encourage health systems and prospective customers to evaluate the options and do their research. We want our customer to have confidence in knowing they’ve selected the best of the best. So as you do your research, view demos, and talk to sales teams, look for some of the following features and ensure you’re choosing a partner who will be there when you need them. 

Security 

This feature may seem like a given but it may not be. There are some vendors in the marketplace offering “secure” messaging that in reality are relying on a patient to waive their security. The working theory here is that as long as a patient acknowledges that they are sharing PHI over a non-secure channel and chooses to do so anyway, the organization is covered. But this misses the point, patient privacy should be protected and there are patient-friendly solutions that do this. Don’t settle for a solution that simply promises to cover your liability, be sure you’re choosing a partner who values a patient’s security and privacy and has designed a product to do the same. 

An Intuitive Dashboard to Manage Patient Messages 

To a patient, this messaging will appear like a text message but to medical office staff, it should be easy to view all the patient messages, designate or assign them to others, and even view how long it’s been since the patient sent their message. 

Initiate a Secure Message at Any Time 

Patients don’t think in terms of which solution their provider is using, they ask questions the same way via text whether it contains PHI or not. Look for a solution that allows the provider or staff to switch the message over to a HIPAA-compliant channel at any point. 

Get Notifications via Email

Medical office staff are rarely sitting at their desks all day, they are up and moving to accommodate patients, help providers, answer phones, and much more. Best practice patient messaging solutions account for this, sending email notifications when a patient message is not responded to within a specified amount of time. This reduces the risk that a patient message would go unanswered. 

Part of a Unified Strategy

The very best way to utilize both secure and non-secure patient messaging is to do so as part of a larger patient engagement strategy. The best vendors in the market offer these solutions in an integrated fashion so they elevate and leverage your other patient engagement strategies. Automated appointment reminders are a great example, giving medical office staff the ability to see and respond to non-traditional patient responses to their appointment reminders. 

No Usernames or Passwords, Ever

The reason text communication is so effective with patients is because it’s intuitive and they already use it daily, most use it hourly. Locking this convenience behind a portal, username, and password negates the value to patients and can easily backfire, causing frustration and dissatisfaction. 

Ability to Send/Receive Files

A patient with a clinical question will often need to send a picture in order to give a medical provider the information they need to assess and respond. Similarly, medical office staff may need or require forms or pictures of insurance cards or ID’s—all of this is simple and convenient with a messaging software that allows both patients and providers/staff to send and receive files through the messaging solution. 

Long-Term Support and Training

No solution is fool-proof, there will be hiccups at times. While top-notch vendors test and test their products to ensure reliability, at some point you’ll need some help. Whether it’s resources for new employees, troubleshooting to technology glitches, or changes to your set up, choose a vendor with a reputation for standing by their customers long-term. Even better, find a partner who specializes in healthcare so when you need help, they understand the impact to your day-to-day operations. 

How to Implement HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat 

Getting started should be easy. Here a few steps to take the guess-work out of it: 

  1. Determine what success will mean to your organization and how to measure it. Be sure to grab baseline data before implementation.
  2. Find a partner 
  3. Determine your timeline and dedicate a resource to the project 
  4. Work with your vendor through the implementation project and timeline 
  5. Upon go-live, let your patients know you’re expanding access and making it convenient to get in touch with your office. Here are a few suggestions to get the word out: 
  • Signage in your office, “You can text us!”
  • Use demand/broadcast messaging to notify your patients via text and email that you are available via chat now 
  • Be ready to respond to non-traditional reminder responses 
  • Include language in your appointment reminders to notify patients that they can simply respond to their text reminder to ask questions and get help when needed 
  • Track metrics like response rates and utilization
  • Round table with your clinical and non-clinical staff to learn how they like it and expand how they use it 
  • Ask patients for their feedback and share with staff 
  • Conclusion

    Medical practices, hospitals, and health systems need a way to communicate with patients via text. It’s more efficient, drives a better patient experience, expands access and convenience, and is more effective than any other form of patient communication. There are multiple applications for the everyday use of both HIPAA-compliant and non-secure patient chat within a healthcare setting, offering both clinical and non-clinical staff efficiencies that manual outreach and phone tag can never offer. The combination of both HIPAA-compliant and patient messaging can be more affordable when choosing a vendor who offers bundled pricing or who offers the non-secure messaging feature for free with appointment reminders or other solutions you may already have in place or that you need in addition to the messaging component. The quality of the solution and the reliability and responsiveness of the vendor are of equal importance so be sure to evaluate market options on both and talk to current customers, if you can. As with any health IT undertaking, you should determine your metrics of success on the front end, measure your baseline data, and be ready to compare at scheduled intervals to determine the success of the project. 

    Can your patients text you?

    The post HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat: Why Medical Practices are Texting Patients appeared first on Relatient.


    Source: HIPAA-Compliant Messaging & Chat: Why Medical Practices are Texting Patients

    The Virtual Patient Waiting Room: What it is, Why You Need it, and How to Create it

    Introduction

    Virtual waiting rooms, also referred to as curbside check-in, mobile waiting rooms, and zero-contact waiting rooms, offer medical groups, hospitals, and health systems a sustainable strategy to replace the waiting room experience for in-office appointments and support a queue of patients utilizing Telehealth.

    The waiting room experience hasn’t changed much over the years and yet is a significant component to the patient experience, affected by the overall atmosphere of the waiting room, how long a patient waits there, and what other delighters or disturbances are present. But the waiting room also poses risks as patients touch shared surfaces or devices and are exposed to other patients. While this risk has always existed, the COVID-19 pandemic shed new light on these risks and heightened awareness for both medical office staff and patients. Similarly, COVID-19 spurred a rapid increase in the use and adoption of Telehealth and though it is likely to lose momentum in the recovery of the crisis it will certainly remain a significant part of patient appointment volume long term.

    Digital patient engagement solutions have been streamlining the patient journey for years, engaging patients and expanding access to scheduling, payments, and communication. In the wake of COVID-19, these same tools have become instrumental in powering zero-contact processes like virtual waiting rooms, digital intake, and contactless payments. As medical groups, hospitals, and health systems begin eliminating the traditional waiting room experience to reduce the risk of patient and staff exposure, the same tools that have eased scheduling, reduced no-shows, and shortened the revenue cycle are also foundational to making a virtual waiting room a sustainable strategy.

    What is a Virtual Waiting Room

    A virtual waiting room can have two meanings. In the context of a patient arriving for an in-office medical appointment, a virtual waiting room is the process in which a patient can check-in from their mobile device and remain in their vehicle until an exam room is available. This allows the patient to bypass the traditional waiting room, reducing their risk of exposure to both other patients and germs and viruses present on surfaces, shared devices like kiosks, and materials like magazines, books, papers, clipboards, and pens.

    In the context of a Telehealth appointment, a virtual waiting room is a process used by patients to indicate they are ready for their televisit, staff who are viewing and managing a patients televisit experience, and/or a provider who is indicating they are ready to initiate the telemedicine appointment with the patient or caregiver.

    3 Reasons You Need a Virtual Waiting Room Solution at Your Medical Practice

    Virtual waiting rooms offer multiple benefits to medical practices, hospitals, and health systems looking to power sustainable Telehealth processes and/or replace a traditional waiting room experience for in-office visits with a safer, more efficient patient experience. Here are three reasons every medical practice should have a virtual waiting room.

    Virtual Waiting Rooms Drive Better Infection Control

    The risk of spreading infection in an outpatient setting used to be considered relatively low, in part because patients seen and treated in outpatient settings were of low-acuity and therefore presented lower risk themselves. However, as healthcare has continued to push more treatments and procedures to the outpatient setting while also decreasing the length of stay for patients in an acute care setting, outpatient acuity is rising. In other words, the patients seeking care in outpatient settings have become more medically complex and at the same time, as more patients seek outpatient care, waiting rooms and clinics have become more crowded.

    Infection control in the waiting room isn’t limited to surfaces or shared devices, those these pose significant risk if not managed appropriately, but the spread of airborne illnesses and diseases can’t be impacted with hand hygiene stations or even really social distancing as HVAC systems can spread viruses in a shared area like a waiting room easily.

    Allowing patients to wait in their vehicles until a private exam room is available reduces the risk of infection for patients and staff alike. And because processes that once took place in the waiting room, like patient payments and the collection of medical histories and payer information, can be completed with digital tools, there’s no longer good reason to require patients to wait inside.

    Virtual Waiting Rooms Are Essential for Medical Practices Offering Telehealth

    Privacy is of the utmost importance for sustainable Telehealth and while some Telehealth platforms work this into their solutions, others may not. Additionally, during times of major disruption, like the COVID-19 pandemic, regulations around acceptable Telehealth platforms can be relaxed to make Telehealth more accessible to providers and patients. This means platforms that weren’t designed to deliver Telehealth become acceptable during those times but don’t have HIPAA compliance built-in. A virtual waiting room for these purposes can be created in more than one way and provide a strategy for medical office staff and providers to manage the queue of patients scheduled for telehealth visits, keep providers on-schedule, and help patients navigate the telemedicine process.

    Virtual Waiting Rooms are More Patient Friendly

    Even nicely decorated waiting rooms that offer amenities like coffee, bottled water, and snacks aren’t ideal for patients. Traditional patient waiting rooms come with variables that can’t be controlled by office staff and can be inconvenient, disturbing, or simply annoying to patients—think crying children, noticeably sick patients, patients on phone calls, etc. Allowing patients the ability to wait in their vehicles gives them the privacy to spend their time as they wish, whether that’s simply waiting in silence, reading a book, listening to the music or programming they like, or talking on the phone with a friend, colleague, or loved one.

    Finally, while infection control used to be something largely on the minds of medical office staff and providers, patients are becoming increasingly aware of their risks and are looking for ways to stay safe. If a patient perceives risk in the waiting room, it may negatively impact their satisfaction and detract from a positive patient experience.

    How to Create a Virtual Waiting Room

    It isn’t difficult to create a virtual waiting room and the same tools that can power the virtual waiting room for in-office visits can also power a virtual waiting room for televisits. Here a few strategies medical practices, hospitals, and health systems are using.

    Digital Patient Registration and Check-In

    Digital check-in not only allows patients to notify staff they are ready for their appointments, it creates a queue that’s easy to view and manage by medical office staff. A robust digital check-in solution makes it more efficient for staff to see which patients have checked in, which patients have not, and how long it’s been since these tasks have been completed (in other words, how long they’ve been waiting). Best practice solutions also make it easy for medical office staff to view whether or not a patient has completed their registration forms so they can assist patients who have not completed them.

    Digital patient registration upholds the processes that would take place in a traditional waiting room, making it possible to eliminate. Patient forms, payer/insurance cards, and patient identification can all be collected and in many cases, imported to the EHR or practice management system via integration and writebacks.

    2-Way Patient Chat/Messaging

    A simple text message between patient and medical office staff can notify staff a patient is ready to check-in and waiting in the parking lot. If there are screening questions for patients or patients have questions at the point of check-in, a secure messaging solution offers staff and patients a safe place to have HIPAA-compliant conversations.

    This strategy also offers medical staff a simple way to tell a patient that their provider is ready to initiate a telehealth visit or for patients to check-in with medical office staff and notify them that they are ready for the provider.

    Best Practices to Support Your Virtual Waiting Room

    A virtual waiting room should be something your patient engagement partner can help you implement without requiring you to go search for a separate vendor. Your virtual waiting room will be most sustainable and offer the greatest payoff when supported by your other patient engagement solutions, like appointment reminders, mobile payments, and surveys. You don’t need an entire platform, rather use what you have in place to communicate with your patients, set their expectations, and help them navigate the patient journey—whether it be telehealth or an in-office appointment. Here a few examples:

    • Include language in your appointment reminders to let patients know how to check-in digitally, complete registration forms, and that they’ll be asked to wait in their vehicles (if not a televisit). You should be able to include a link to digital registration forms and a separate link to digital check-in.
    • Text or email your patients a post-visit survey to get real time feedback and stay alert of service recovery needs and opportunities to improve both in-office and telehealth waiting experiences.
    • Use mobile payments and patient balance messaging to both collect copays from patients at the time of service and patient balances/deductible post-visit.

    If you have a 2-way patient messaging solution, a text response from a patient to any of the SMS-based solutions above should populate a dashboard and notify medical office staff that they have a message to reply to.

    Lastly, find a partner you can count on, meaning: 

    • The offer live support during your most critical hours of operations and a robust way to submit support requests and communicate digitally during the support process
    • They offer you dedicated implementation resources so you have someone to help walk you through the process beginning to end
    • They check in from time to time to brainstorm, offer solutions to your most common issues, and take product feedback back to their development teams
    • They specialize in healthcare so their attention isn’t divided and they understand how their products impact not just your operations, but your patients.

    Conclusion

    Virtual waiting rooms gained instant adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic when concerns over risk and infection peaked and when Telehealth became non-negotiable for providing care during a time when Americans were told to stay home whenever possible. But the virtual waiting room makes sense for the long term and should become best practice in medical offices across the nation for the ability to further mitigate patient and staff exposure to illness and disease, the efficiency it offers to patient flow, and the ability to help sustain Telehealth as a new staple in delivering outpatient care.

    Virtual waiting rooms don’t have to be complicated to implement, simple patient-centered engagement solutions like 2-way patient messaging and digital patient registration and check-in can power a virtual waiting room that serves in-office visits and telemedicine visits. When used strategically with the other patient engagement solutions already in place, you can establish and support a digital patient experience that delights patients, drives better outcomes, and helps maintain financial stability for the practice, hospital, or health system.

    There are vendors who do this well and those who don’t deliver the results they promise. Look for someone who specializes in healthcare, is highly recommended by their customers and third parties, and can offer you a flexible platform that meets your needs without having to seek out multiple vendors.

      Ready for a Partner in Patient Engagement?

      The post The Virtual Patient Waiting Room: What it is, Why You Need it, and How to Create it appeared first on Relatient.


      Source: The Virtual Patient Waiting Room: What it is, Why You Need it, and How to Create it

      Virtual Patient Waiting Rooms: What They Are, Why You Need One, and How to Create It

      Introduction

      For decades, the patient in-office experience has looked largely the same: patients arrive, check in, wait, are shown to an exam room, see their providers, and checkout. The waiting room experience is a significant component to the patient experience, including the overall atmosphere of the waiting room, how long a patient waits there, and what other delighters or disturbances are present there. But the waiting room also poses risks as patients touch shared surfaces or devices and are exposed to other patients. While this risk has always existed, the COVID-19 pandemic shed new light on these risks and heightened awareness for both medical office staff and patients. Additionally, Telehealth, which has been growing in popularity among both physicians and patients, grew rapidly in use and adoption when the coronavirus pandemic reached the states in early 2020. While Telehealth is likely to lose it’s initial momentum, it will remain a significant part of patient appointment volume for the long term.

      Meanwhile, digital patient engagement solutions have been developed to deliver what traditional processes used to deliver during a patient’s time in the waiting room, like patient registration, check-in, and collecting patient copay and payments. The development of these patient-centered tools not only help support Telehealth but are becoming valuable as medical groups, hospitals, and health systems begin eliminating the traditional waiting room experience and shift to virtual waiting rooms. Virtual waiting rooms or mobile waiting rooms offer a sustainable strategy to both replace the waiting room experience for in-office appointments and support a queue of patients utilizing Telehealth. 

      What is a Virtual Waiting Room

      A virtual waiting room can have two meanings. In the context of a patient arriving for an in-office medical appointment, a virtual waiting room is the process in which a patient can check-in from a mobile device and remain in their vehicle until an exam room is available. This allows the patient to bypass the traditional waiting room, reducing their risk of exposure to both other patients and germs and viruses present on surfaces, shared devices like kiosks, and materials like magazines, books, papers, clipboards, and pens. 

      In the context of a Telehealth appointment, a virtual waiting room is a process used by patients to indicate they are ready for their televisit, staff who are viewing and managing a patient’s televisit experience, and/or a provider who is indicating they are ready to initiate the telemedicine appointment with the patient or caregiver. 

      3 Reasons You Need a Virtual Waiting Room

      Virtual waiting rooms offer multiple benefits to medical practices, hospitals, and health systems looking to power sustainable Telehealth processes and/or replace a traditional waiting room experience for in-office visits with a safer, more efficient patient experience. Here are three reasons every medical practice should have a virtual waiting room. 

      1. Virtual Waiting Rooms Drive Better Infection Control 

      The risk of spreading infection in an outpatient setting used to be considered relatively low, in part because patients seen and treated in outpatient settings were of low-acuity and therefore presented lower risk themselves. However, as healthcare has continued to push more treatments and procedures to the outpatient setting while also decreasing the length of stay for patients in an acute care setting, outpatient acuity is rising. In other words, the patients seeking care in outpatient settings have become more medically complex and at the same time, as more patients seek outpatient care, waiting rooms and clinics have become more crowded. 

      Infection control in the waiting room isn’t limited to surfaces or shared devices, those these pose significant risk if not managed appropriately, but the spread of airborne illnesses and diseases can’t be impacted with hand hygiene stations or even really social distancing as HVAC systems can spread viruses in a shared area like a waiting room easily. 

      Allowing patients to wait in their vehicles until a private exam room is available reduces the risk of infection for patients and staff alike. And because processes that once took place in the waiting room, like patient payments and the collection of medical histories and payer information, can be completed with digital tools, there’s no longer good reason to require patients to wait inside. 

      2. Virtual Waiting Rooms Are Essential for Medical Practices Offering Telehealth 

      Privacy is of the utmost importance for sustainable Telehealth and while some Telehealth platforms work this into their solutions, others may not. Additionally, during times of major disruption, like the COVID-19 pandemic, regulations around acceptable Telehealth platforms can be relaxed to make Telehealth more accessible to providers and patients. This means platforms that weren’t designed to deliver Telehealth become acceptable during those times but don’t have HIPAA compliance built-in. A virtual waiting room for these purposes can be created in more than one way and provide a strategy for medical office staff and providers to manage the queue of patients scheduled for telehealth visits, keep providers on-schedule, and help patients navigate the telemedicine process. 

      3. Virtual Waiting Rooms are More Patient Friendly

      Even nicely decorated waiting rooms that offer amenities like coffee, bottled water, and snacks aren’t ideal for patients. Traditional patient waiting rooms come with variables that can’t be controlled by office staff and can be inconvenient, disturbing, or simply annoying to patients—think crying children, noticeably sick patients, patients on phone calls, etc. Allowing patients the ability to wait in their vehicles gives them the privacy to spend their time as they wish, whether that’s simply waiting in silence, reading a book, listening to the music or programming they like, or talking on the phone with a friend, colleague, or loved one. 

      Finally, while infection control used to be something largely on the minds of medical office staff and providers, patients are becoming increasingly aware of their risks and are looking for ways to stay safe. If a patient perceives risk in the waiting room, it may negatively impact their satisfaction and detract from a positive patient experience. 

      How to Create a Virtual Waiting Room 

      It isn’t difficult to create a virtual waiting room and the same tools that can power the virtual waiting room for in-office visits can also power a virtual waiting room for televisits. Here a few strategies medical practices, hospitals, and health systems are using. 

      Digital Patient Registration and Check-In

      Digital check-in not only allows patients to notify staff they are ready for their appointments, it creates a queue that’s easy to view and manage by medical office staff. A robust digital check-in solution makes it more efficient for staff to see which patients have checked in, which patients have not, and how long it’s been since these tasks have been completed (in other words, how long they’ve been waiting). Best practice solutions also make it easy for medical office staff to view whether or not a patient has completed their registration forms so they can assist patients who have not completed them. 

      Digital patient registration upholds the processes that would take place in a traditional waiting room, making it possible to eliminate. Patient forms, payer/insurance cards, and patient identification can all be collected and in many cases, imported to the EHR or practice management system via integration and writebacks. 

      2-Way Patient Chat/Messaging 

      A simple text message between patient and medical office staff can notify staff a patient is ready to check-in and waiting in the parking lot. If there are screening questions for patients or patients have questions at the point of check-in, a secure messaging solution offers staff and patients a safe place to have HIPAA-compliant conversations. 

      This strategy also offers medical staff a simple way to tell a patient that their provider is ready to initiate a telehealth visit or for patients to check-in with medical office staff and notify them that they are ready for the provider. 

      Best Practices to Support Your Virtual Waiting Room

      A virtual waiting room should be something your patient engagement partner can help you implement without requiring you to go search for a separate vendor. Your virtual waiting room will be most sustainable and offer the greatest payoff when supported by your other patient engagement solutions, like appointment reminders, mobile payments, and surveys. You don’t need an entire platform, rather use what you have in place to communicate with your patients, set their expectations, and help them navigate the patient journey—whether it be telehealth or an in-office appointment. Here a few examples: 

      • Include language in your appointment reminders to let patients know how to check-in digitally, complete registration forms, and that they’ll be asked to wait in their vehicles (if not a televisit). You should be able to include a link to digital registration forms and a separate link to digital check-in. 
      • Text or email your patients a post-visit survey to get real time feedback and stay alert of service recovery needs and opportunities to improve both in-office and telehealth waiting experiences. 
      • Use mobile payments and patient balance messaging to both collect copays from patients at the time of service and patient balances/deductible post-visit. 

      If you have a 2-way patient messaging solution, a text response from a patient to any of the SMS-based solutions above should populate a dashboard and notify medical office staff that they have a message to reply to. 

      Find a partner you can count on, meaning: 

      • The offer live support during your most critical hours of operations and a robust way to submit support requests and communicate digitally during the support process 
      • They offer you dedicated implementation resources so you have someone to help walk you through the process beginning to end 
      • They check in from time to time to brainstorm, offer solutions to your most common issues, and take product feedback back to their development teams 
      • They specialize in healthcare so their attention isn’t divided and they understand how their products impact not just your operations, but your patients. 

      Conclusion

      Virtual waiting rooms gained instant adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic when concerns over risk and infection peaked and when Telehealth became non-negotiable for providing care during a time when Americans were told to stay home whenever possible. But the virtual waiting room makes sense for the long term and should become best practice in medical offices across the nation for the ability to further mitigate patient and staff exposure to illness and disease, the efficiency it offers to patient flow, and the ability to help sustain Telehealth as a new staple in delivering outpatient care. 

      Virtual waiting rooms don’t have to be complicated to implement, simple patient-centered engagement solutions like 2-way patient messaging and digital patient registration and check-in can power a virtual waiting room that serves in-office visits and telemedicine visits. When used strategically with the other patient engagement solutions already in place, you can establish and support a digital patient experience that delights patients, drives better outcomes, and helps maintain financial stability for the practice, hospital, or health system. 

      There are vendors who do this well and those who don’t deliver the results they promise. Look for someone who specializes in healthcare, is highly recommended by their customers and third parties, and can offer you a flexible platform that meets your needs without having to seek out multiple vendors. 

      Find out how easy it is to implement a virtual waiting room

      The post Virtual Patient Waiting Rooms: What They Are, Why You Need One, and How to Create It appeared first on Relatient.


      Source: Virtual Patient Waiting Rooms: What They Are, Why You Need One, and How to Create It

      Cherokee Health Systems Powers Telehealth with Patient Engagement, Goes Live Across 24 Locations During COVID-19

      Cherokee Health Systems Powers Telehealth with Patient Engagement, Goes Live Across 24 Locations During COVID-19

      We could have paused our go-live project due to COVID-19, but we needed these tools even more given the pandemic,” says Andy Rhea, CIO of Cherokee Health Systems. The Tennessee health system, which operates 24 rural and urban health clinics across 13 Tennessee counties, began planning to implement Relatient’s patient engagement platform in early 2020 before COVID-19 swept the nation and halted normal operations. And while it was tempting to slow their plans, Rhea knew they needed Relatient’s digital tools and robust integration to their practice management system, NextGen, to keep patients informed during the pandemic. 

      Certified as an NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home, Cherokee Health stayed focused on minimizing gaps-in-care, keeping care accessible to patients regardless of payer, and communicating the availability of Telehealth as a new visit option. Rhea says this would have been much more complicated with previous vendors, some who would take days or even weeks to make changes to scripting or send on-demand messaging to patients. 

      “We implemented Relatient’s software during a global pandemic. As soon as we went live, we had immediate changes to implement due to ramifications of the crisis. Relatient’s team was available at every step of the transition. This collaboration was critical because we moved the majority of our patient appointments to Telehealth within a 10-day timeframe. For example, Relatient expedited actions such as the inclusion of the unique patient Telehealth link in the appointment reminder. We are pleased with Relatient’s professionalism and timeliness when we needed it most.”  —Andy Rhea, CIO, Cherokee Health Systems

      Looking Past COVID-19

      An early adopter of telemedicine, Cherokee Health has been using it within their clinics since 1999 to connect their patients to specialists that would have otherwise been difficult to access. COVID-19 created an immediate need to expand those services into patient homes and Rhea says it’s likely here to stay even after the risk of COVID-19 dissipates. Whether in-clinic or via Telehealth, Cherokee Health looks to digital tools like reminders, demand messaging, online billing, health campaigns, and patient surveys to help patients navigate the patient journey, stay current in their care, and access care easily. 

      Download the Case Study

      Highlights:

      • Hands-on implementation made for a smooth go-live experience 
      • Expedited the inclusion of a unique Telehealth link within appointment reminders 
      • Demand Messaging kept patients informed without manual outreach

      Solutions:

      Integration:

      • NextGen

      Get a free demo of Relatient’s patient-centered engagement software.

      See why 10,000+ physicians trust us with their patients and businesses, and learn how we can help you:

      • Reduce no-shows
      • Increase patient balance collection
      • Improve patient satisfaction
      • Transition to value-based care
      • Optimize your office operations
      • Automate patient outreach
      • Increase compliance

       

      Yes, I want a demo

      hbspt.forms.create({
      css: ”,
      portalId: ‘2735326’,
      formId: ‘9db46c0e-d421-4381-b9e4-40aea2d24473’
      });

      The post Cherokee Health Systems Powers Telehealth with Patient Engagement, Goes Live Across 24 Locations During COVID-19 appeared first on Relatient.


      Source: Cherokee Health Systems Powers Telehealth with Patient Engagement, Goes Live Across 24 Locations During COVID-19