Alleviate Staffing Shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services

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Alleviate Staffing Shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services

alleviate staffing shortages with patient self services

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, health clinics were experiencing staffing issues and healthcare workforce understaffing has only been exacerbated now due to the virus. Because of COVID-19 we have encountered loss of life, staff burnout and unprecedented turnover rates. More patients are returning in-person to clinics yet the staffing has not improved. With variants of COVID-19 still keeping clinics very busy, healthcare agencies are looking for help. It is a critical business issue to be unable to fill job openings. Thankfully, that can be aided with technology. Healthcare providers can alleviate staffing shortages, better support staff and reduce turnover rates with an Electronic Health Record (EHR) and patient self services. 

Healthcare IT has a positive impact on practice management, patient care and more efficient use of staff. A great EHR system can streamline workflow, reduce time spent on administrative tasks and give staff more time to focus on patients. This will reduce the stress of your healthcare workers and relieve them from having to work extra hours. When health clinics are already understaffed, finding ways to have limited staff work smarter and not harder is more important than ever.

Not all EHR systems are created equal, and it is important to shop for and evaluate EHRs to find one that truly does meet your needs to lighten employee workload. Prevent your staff from having to use multiple tools or from double entering data with an EHR that is interoperable with other systems you use. This is very important to combating digital burnout and can be a part of becoming a trauma informed organization. When used properly, a great EHR can automate as many tasks as possible to improve staff efficiency, information accuracy and patient care. It can also protect your healthcare workers from undue stress. 

Putting more control into patients’ hands can also reduce staff workload. Contactless Patient Experience apps, patient portals, self check-in, online forms and billing services, etc that are embedded within your EHR can remove administrative burden on healthcare staff. If there is a shortage of staff available for the check-in desk, it helps to have patients do these tasks themselves. Many patients want the convenience and shorter wait times associated with self check-in anyway. Solve two problems at once with these services. 

It is possible to alleviate staffing shortages with an EHR and Patient Self Services. Interoperable healthcare IT technologies and putting more control in the hands of patients is the solution to supporting limited staff. As we stay committed to improving patient care while working towards recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can rely on these technologies to aid us.

Staff Moves: Increasing Security and Protecting Patient Data

security protecting patient data

With news of cyberattacks on the rise, healthcare agencies can do a lot towards increasing security and protecting patient data. Shopping for a secure Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution is one step. Your agency can also support your team through training, policies and a comprehensive security program. It should be stressed to all staff members the importance of individual commitment to good digital security, however. Oftentimes, the weakest link in security at any organization is employees. 

Make sure your healthcare agency has an EHR that is designed with all of the modern security challenges in mind. Train your staff on security features and best practices. Make sure both your vendor and staff have a well defined policy for how to deal with a ransomware attack or a disaster. You need an alternative solution if your system goes down for a considerable amount of time, whether falling back on paper or something else. Finally, secure your IT infrastructure with a good antivirus program that is professionally managed. 

Organizations of all sizes should support their teams through training, policies, and a comprehensive security program; however, the commitment of all individuals on your staff to good digital security is extremely important. Educate all staff on password security, email security and not sharing work laptops with family and friends. Your staff should be informed that filters for spam will stop many scam emails but some things may still get through. It is important they know not to click links in emails from unknown sources. Good digital security also entails not reusing passwords, disabling inactive accounts, using multi-factor authentication, regularly backing up data and updating software frequently. 

Make sure each individual on your staff is committed to increasing security and protecting patient data. They must all recognize that individual actions are directly linked to large-scale outcomes where technology and digital security are concerned. While important to use an EHR with good security and to have your antivirus professionally managed, good digital security practices of all your healthcare agency staff is important to preventing cyberattacks.

Building Company Culture for Positive Relationships

company culture effect on relationships

Company culture is the combination of interactions, environments, and ethics that run a corporate workplace. It contributes directly to the wellbeing of an organizations’ functionality, and research has found that the more focus managers spend supporting company culture, the more successful employees become. Company culture also ties into customer experience and vendor relationships.  Happy employees are more likely to have positive relationships with their customers. Not only is it good to build good company culture within your own organization, it is also to seek out companies with good culture when considering vendors to work with.

The ideal workplace naturally inspires creativity and collaboration among employees; however, there are continual horror stories about workplaces with faulty management and stressful corporate agendas that lead to poor customer service. Failing corporate systems are in the spotlight more than ever, and this is because more and more employees are realizing that the old ways of corporate America no longer inspire employee confidence. Re-evaluating company culture starts by prioritizing a healthy workplace instead of continuing to enforce a failing system.

So, how does an organization create a positive company culture? It is possible through dedication and the pursuit of change. Managers must prioritize the creation of a thriving work culture everyday alongside their daily work activities. There are three contributing factors that build a thriving company culture: overall environment, available resources, and corporate values. 

  1. Overall Environment: A work environment is the setting, social features and physical conditions of a workplace that impact wellbeing, workplace relationships, collaboration, efficiency and employee health. Beyond the physical environment – communication styles between employees and terms staff members are hired under such as rate of pay, contract of employment and length of workday are also a big part of the workplace environment. This can also include recreational activities and other initiatives to promote a healthy workplace. Once you have established these rubrics for your company and what you offer to employees in terms of a healthy workplace environment, it is important to hire employees that fit into the style of environment you have created so they can be supported and happy employees.

  2. Available Resources: Dependable resources are crucial to create a positive company culture. The last thing employees want to deal with is a faulty HR department, laggy technology or a broken printer. If resources are not dependable then frustration is created and it can lead to bottlenecks in the business framework. Use resources wisely and learn to reallocate funds where necessary to build a successful set of resources that will inspire quality work and efficiency. Be sure your employees have available resources in-office but also when working remotely.

  3. Corporate Values: Mission statements, morales, examples and training processes are all factors that play a major role in building company culture. These are the company’s core values, and they encompass employees’ opinion of the institution. Their job could be a regular 9 to 5, or it could be the continuing dedication to a community and the achievement of a successful career and teamwork. The everyday practice of corporate values creates inspiration and motivation for staff members. If the morals of a company are compromised, the accountability of the firm falls and so does the quality of work produced. A PR disaster waiting to happen does not  inspire workplace excellence, in fact, more likely than not, faulty values will inspire whistleblowing and an overall downfall of confidence. By teaching managers, CFOs, CEOs, financial teams, advertisement teams, etc. the principles of moral codes by the corporation, managers can instill a sense of pride in the staff and inspire the team to believe in their cause.

A thriving company culture creates room for inspiration as well as relationship building, leadership, and teamwork. It creates room for others to build one another up for career success. A fantastic company culture is one of the primary forces behind workplace excellence. By learning to adapt the company narrative to fit staff agendas, ideas, and preferences, companies will begin to see employee satisfaction on the rise. This will lead to quality work and great interactions with customers by employees that are happy to be there and represent your company well.

Because corporate culture translates itself into client experience, it is equally important that vendors and other companies your company works with have great company cultures as well. Your client experience will be a function of the culture at a corporation. When choosing an organization to service your business needs, consider the satisfaction level of employees and other customers of theirs. 

Patagonia Health Piloting New Contactless Patient Experience App

contactless patient experience app

Patagonia Health is helping to pave the way into the future of healthcare with their new Contactless Patient Experience App. This app will be fully embedded and merged seamlessly with the Patagonia Health Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution, which includes a federally certified Patient Portal in its base product. As part of Patagonia Health Certified EHR, their Patient Portal meets strict security guidelines and is HIPAA compliant. Patagonia Health’s Contactless Patient Experience App is now being piloted with existing customers as it continues to be developed. Patagonia Health will be rolling out contactless patient experience features and functionalities in 5 areas: self-scheduling appointments, forms, check-ins, scanning and payments.

The Contactless Patient Experience App is a part of Patagonia Health’s rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Another part of their response has their Mass Vaccination App, which is now being used by customers all over the country. It has been a company priority to help protect healthcare workers and patients with these tools and further support the Public Health market that Patagonia Health serves during this pandemic. Beyond an immediate response to COVID, however, the Contactless Patient Experience app is also being designed to serve patients and Public Health post-pandemic. We are now living in the changing environment of individuals wanting more self-service options where they shop and visit. This app will bring that experience to healthcare. 

Because the Contactless Patient Experience App is designed to be embedded within the Patagonia Health EHR, it creates a streamlined workflow. This will prevent healthcare staff from having to make duplicate entries and juggle between applications. That will reduce errors, save time and reduce the risk of clinician burnout. The Patagonia Health Patient Portal is also easy to use by patients.

Right now the Contactless Patient Experience App is being released to pilot customers to test appointment self-scheduling and bulk patient sign-up. The other features are set to be released over time with full functionality slated for Sept 2022. 

App Functionalities Slated for Release

  • Self-service scheduling of appointments: Patients will be able to log-in to the Patient Portal to select, cancel and reschedule appointments with the Date, Time, Location and Provider they would like.
  • Forms: As part of the Self-Service Check-In process, patients will be able to complete and sign any necessary forms (Demographics, Consents, HIPAA, Declaration of Income and Assessments/ Pre-Screenings) on their personal devices. All forms will be linked to the Patagonia Health EHR and are automatically placed with patient data.
  • Check-in: Patients will be able to use any device – desktop, mobile or tablet – to check-in prior to arriving at the clinic or on a designated Kiosk at the time of arrival. The Self-Service Scheduling feature will remind Patients before their scheduled appointment to start the self-service check-in process and prompt patients to complete any necessary forms. 
  • Scan Documents: Patients will be able to use the app to scan documents such as insurance cards, driver’s license and medical history documents to populate the patient demographics and medical records.
  • Payments: Patients will be able to view outstanding balances and pay for any deductibles or copays via credit card securely through the Patient Portal online payment system.

Patagonia Health aims to provide rapid responses to meet customer needs, especially when faced with unexpected public health challenges. They also aim to be an innovative healthcare IT company constantly helping to nurture the next iteration of patient-focused healthcare with tools that make clinicians’ and administrators’ work easier. If you would like to learn more about Patagonia Health’s EHR and Contactless Patient Experienced App and Patient Portal, reach out to them today.

Usability versus Learnability in EHR User Interface

Usability Learnability EHR User Interface

When choosing a User Interface (UI) for your Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution, be sure to consider usability vs learnability in the system design. While there is a relationship between these terms, there is always a tension between being easy-to-use versus easy-to-learn and UI’s often sacrifice one over the other in terms of design. A great system has a bit of both, however. It is important to find the right balance between usability and learnability to make your EHR, user experience the best fit for your needs.

Usability is a term that references whether a user can accomplish their goal within a system or app. Learnability focuses on the usability aspects needed for users to more easily learn how to use a system or app. A software or application that is easy-to-use will require some training, documentation and manuals to study but the system can be learned and used for its intended purposes. A software or application that is easy-to-learn will not require outside training or reading documentation and is easy to understand and use right away. Being easy-to-learn does not imply a system or app will be easier to use later on, however. There may be menus of instructions built within the system or app to guide a user through that make a system easy-to-learn and use right away that can become tedious if your system is used over and over by users, making those prompts unnecessary. 

An easy-to-learn system or app is the best fit for novices or occasional users. When your healthcare agency is adopting a patient portal, you have to consider how infrequently patients access it. It is important that the navigation be very intuitive for patients to use right away without outside training and instruction manuals. Your daily-use EHR and billing systems can be a bit more complex, however.

Whether a system or app is designed to be easy-to-learn or easy-to-use, there are universal factors in UI design that will make it overall more successful. Being learnable still is a factor in usability and is how these terms are related. As such, make sure your EHR user interface is easy enough to learn for your staff even if you are providing training. These universal UI design factors include:

  • The intended user understands the user interface and finds it logical.
  • The system or app is consistent in the use of design patterns.
  • The users always feel in control.
  • The users always understand where they are, how they got there, and how to get back.

Having a good user experience ensures your patients and staff do not find your EHR more burdensome than helpful. Balancing usability versus learnability in EHR user interfaces and making sure your product has an overall successful user interface with good design principles is key to avoiding digital burnout.