Patient vs. Consumer: The Consumerization of the Healthcare Industry
by Philip Blanks●
January 10, 2019
The consumerization of health is one of the fastest growing health IT trends for 2019. Patients are demanding to circumvent traditional care models with disruptive technologies that redefine how patients engage with their own care.
With healthcare costs on the rise, patients are beginning to expect more from their providers — including better care and a better patient experience. As patients begin to see themselves more like consumers of healthcare, it’s more important now that healthcare organizations prioritize ways to improve the patient’s care journey with a focus on enhancing the digital experience for engaging with the patient.
Mobile technology has been a consistent trend in improving the way customers engage with a business or service. The healthcare industry is being pressured to embrace this digital trend as well with mobile technology becoming increasingly popular for enhancing the consumer-driven experience. Healthcare technology vendors are challenged to create solutions that benefit both the provider and the patient — such as our Mobile Signature Capture solution.
Mobile Signature Capture enables patients to use their own smartphone or device to complete their documents securely during their care visit. Patients enjoy the familiarity and convenience of using their own device to complete their healthcare documents while providers can decrease cross-contamination risks and e-signing hardware costs.
Patient-centric technology solutions like Mobile Signature Capture help healthcare organizations compete with the ever-changing demands of the “consumer-minded” patients of today’s world. As patients begin to demonstrate more control over choosing their own providers, healthcare organizations will be required to not only prove their commitment to efficiency but also prove their commitment to a better overall user experience for the patient.
Fostering Patient Engagement Through Mobile Technology
by Philip Blanks●
August 14, 2018
As patients seek to exert greater control over their healthcare journeys, healthcare providers are seeing a larger shift to technology. Automated tools have made other aspects of their lives more convenient and patients want to use these types of solutions to improve their healthcare experiences.
Consumers have become increasingly dependent on mobile devices to make travel reservations, order food, bank and video chat. Their expectations for interacting with healthcare providers also have increased dramatically. They look for convenience and simplicity from providers for scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, communicating with physicians and other medical staff and for completing paperwork before appointments.
Healthcare organizations that recognize the shift in embracing technology have the opportunity to streamline care and help patients become more engaged in their own care.
Healthcare organizations that use patient-centric technology tend to have more engaged patients than those that rely on manual, paper-based processes. Satisfied patients are more loyal and often become ambassadors for the organization — helping to attract and retain customers. Staying connected to providers through mobile patient engagement technology, encourages patients to be more involved with their care which ultimately leads to better outcomes.
Mobile options to consider
Patient portals are the most commonly used patient engagement technology. Integrated with electronic health records, patients can access key health information including test results through the portal. In many cases, patients also are able to request prescription refills, pay bills and schedule appointments through their portal. Secure messaging allows patients to communicate with their providers and sometimes can help avoid trips to the doctor’s office or can allow providers to identify potentially serious issues before they escalate.
Two-way patient-provider communication also reinforces that healthcare organizations care for their patients and are invested in their long-term health. By allowing patients to use the portal with their own mobile technology, healthcare providers can make interactions more efficient and effective.
Beyond portals, providers can integrate solutions that enable electronic patient registration and document signing. Leveraging these solutions can smooth patient access and eliminate the tedious process of completing paperwork while waiting to see the doctor. In some cases, patients can even use their personal handheld devices to sign consent forms and complete documents. Some solutions allow patients to register from the comfort of their homes before heading to the healthcare organization — leading to a much more efficient patient experience. These tools also streamline registration for the healthcare organization because the registrar no longer has to manually follow up on incomplete information.
Having information early also allows the provider to better prepare for the upcoming visit — contributing to increased patient safety and a more efficient billing and documentation process.
Patient wellness apps also are an emerging patient engagement technology that present a unique opportunity for healthcare providers. Organizations that access data from these apps can keep tabs on a patient’s health outside of their care visit. Not only are providers able to spot potential problems before they become serious issues, they also can intervene with education, coaching and other strategies to reduce the need for costly visits. They are able to provide a more customized care experience because they have a more longitudinal view of the patient’s health and wellness. Although many organizations are just starting to explore these applications, their use likely will become more prevalent in the future.
Advancements show no signs of stopping
As technology continues to evolve, healthcare organizations will continue to explore and leverage mobile solutions to better engage patients and make care more convenient and efficient. Organizations that embrace this idea can dramatically improve their relationships with patients, making care more accessible and even more effective. The organizations that remain committed to engaging patients using mobile technology stand to better serve their patients with increased satisfaction, cost savings and improved engagement.
Eramo, Lisa A. “How to Improve Patient Engagement through Technology.” Medical Economics, 10 July 2017, www.medicaleconomics.com/medical-economics-blog/how-improve-patient-engagement-through-technology.
“How MHealth Technology Supports Patient Engagement Strategies.” Edited by Sara Heath, PatientEngagementHIT, 17 Oct. 2016, patientengagementhit.com/features/how-mhealth-technology-supports-patient-engagement-strategies.
Sawesi, Suhila, et al. “The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” JMIR Medical Informatics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.2196/medinform.4514.
“What Patient Engagement Technology Is Good For.” Edited by Sandra Gittlen, NEJM Catalyst, 21 July 2017, catalyst.nejm.org/patient-engagement-technology-good-for/.
Rewards and Recognition Programs Increase Employee and Patient Satisfaction
by Chelsea Youngquist●
July 16, 2018
Hospital systems face tremendous pressure: changing government regulations, tightening of reimbursements, and an increasingly tight labor market.
Nearly 18 percent of new RNs resign from their first nursing job during the first year—and a third leave within two years. According to the 2018 National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $49,500 and ranges from $38,000 to $61,100. This results in the average hospital losing $5.7M. New data from the federal government shows a projected deficit of more than 20,000 physicians by 2025 (taking into account graduate medical residents), according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The U.S. will need to hire 2.3 million new health care workers by 2025 to adequately take care of our aging population, a new report finds.
Providing quality healthcare to patients depends on engaged employees. It is more important now than ever to understand why staff members leave, and how you can attract and retain talented nurses, physicians and other staff. Interacting with patients can be stressful and as insurance reimbursement assumes greater importance on the business side, health care workers are being asked to perform tasks more efficiently and with fewer resources. Consistent and sustained recognition or high-quality work is an important but often overlooked way to maintain high levels of workforce satisfaction.
While the current labor situation in the healthcare industry is certainly driven by the inherently stressful responsibilities of the employees and the aging of baby boomers, the high turnover rate is also caused by a reason that can be controlled – employee recognition and satisfaction. When asking employees why they quit their jobs, 82 percent of those polled report that they don’t receive enough recognition (from Workplace Deal Breakers BambooHR 2014). According to the Cicero Group, 78 percent of employees are highly engaged when they experience strong recognition, and 65 percent of employees would work harder if they were recognized by their employers, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2016.
Underappreciated and overworked employees will never be able to perform to their best. A successful rewards and recognition program decreases turnover, improves outcomes and promotes the core values of hospitals. Staff members are more engaged, work harder, and are likelier to stay when they receive strong recognition, they also provide better patient care. Highly engaged staff can reduce mortality by 7 percent and increase patient satisfaction by 5 percent (see infographic below).
Employee engagement strategies move the needle for employee satisfaction and retention. Healthcare managers should use these programs and combine them with the proper tools, education and empowerment methods to ensure that their employees are engaged with their work.
Execution is paramount for new initiatives to take hold. Recognition programs in the healthcare industry should be balanced between value- and performance-based initiatives.
Provide a variety of daily recognition ideas, both non-monetary and monetary, formal and informal. A personal touch goes a long way toward showing employees they are appreciated.
Ensure buy-in through manager education and awareness. Make it easy for managers to run reports, receive notifications, and recognize staff within their workflow.
Adopt appropriate program technology. A unified and flexible recognition program offers administrators and employees access from any device, making it easy to recognize and be recognized.
Review the program periodically and formally to customize goals, initiatives, and rewards.
Hospital systems nationwide have found ways to use recognition programs to not only boost employee productivity and engagement while improving patient satisfaction, but also for improving employee health and increasing brand awareness and consistency across their organizations.
Covenant Health System
Covenant Health System, a large healthcare system in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, found great value in its recognition program and its tie to overall employee engagement. The goals of the program included lowering employee turnover, increasing satisfaction and improving their public image. Program details included a multifaceted recognition program, rewarding specific employee behaviors, and giving employees opportunities to earn recognition points for preventative health care initiatives.
• Nearly 50 percent lower employee turnover
• 48 percent increase in blood drive participation
• 6 percent increase in wellness program usage
• A nearly $100,000 increase in annual charitable donations to the community
The healthcare organization also used their recognition program to rebrand and unify Covenant’s workforce after a merger. Using a centralized recognition platform connected employees working in different locations across the same network.
Trinity Health System
Employee recognition programs can play a central role in increasing employee engagement and satisfaction. Trinity Health System in Steubenville, Ohio has developed a highly successful employee recognition program, focused on five best practices.
1. Create an Employee Reward and Recognition Team
Each month, the Employee Reward and Recognition Team meets with managers to discuss what is going well in their areas of the organization.
2. Measure How Employees Like to Be Rewarded
Trinity Health System gives a motivational assessment to every new hire to identify how each employee likes to receive recognition. The outcomes influence how the organization designs their recognition programs.
3. Implement Non-Monetary Forms of Recognition
Two central components of Trinity Health System’s employee recognition program are the Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year awards. The Employee Reward and Recognition Team has also developed several other ways to reward staff in non-monetary ways, such as personal thank you notes.
4. Tie Recognition to Employee Performance Management
Each month, managers recognize outstanding performance and send thank you notes to staff. This information is recorded in the performance management system and is incorporated into employee evaluations.
5. Correlate Recognition Programs with Employee Satisfaction and Patient Experience
Each September, Trinity Health System asks its employees to complete a satisfaction survey and over time, the staff satisfaction ratings have improved. As employee satisfaction scores have increased, so have patient experience scores. (from HealthcareSource Blog)
Taylor Healthcare has partnered with many hospital systems to implement rewards and recognition programs. One example:
A large hospital system needed an innovative way to differentiate its brand in the crowded Northeastern U.S. healthcare marketplace. The hospital network found it difficult to draw attention to its unique programs and services in such a highly competitive environment, and was interested in exploring unique ways to tell its story to the broader community. At the same time, they wanted to boost employee engagement and reduce staff turnover.
Taylor Healthcare developed an “employees as marketers” campaign designed to make the hospital’s employees feel more closely aligned with the organization’s values and achievements. Through an online rewards portal, employees were able to earn points for sharing social media content and watching educational videos, transforming these individuals into informed, passionate and uniquely compelling ambassadors. Employees can redeem rewards points for branded items, giving the network heightened visibility through apparel and promotional items.
The campaign has been an unqualified success. Nearly 60 percent of all hospital employees — more than double the campaign’s goal — have logged into the rewards portal and watched at least one video. In addition, employees have redeemed nearly 3,000 branded items, resulting in countless brand impressions in the wider community.
Adopting a formal reward and recognition program, while requiring a small time and financial commitment, can pay major dividends in terms of greater staff engagement, employee satisfaction and better patient experiences. For information on how Taylor Healthcare can enable your program’s success, visit www.taylorhealthcare.com.