It doesn’t matter how many patients walk through your doors if you’re only receiving a small percentage of payments. You can work hard and provide exceptional care, but as far as your bottom line is concerned, the most important thing to focus on is revenue cycle management efficiency.
What is the average number of A/R days it takes for you to complete a payment cycle? How strong are your claim acceptance rates?
These are just a few of the performance indicators to consider when assessing RCM efficiency. If you’re struggling to receive payments, use the following five tips to bring your A/R days up to speed with the industry average – or even better!
1. Verify eligibility before each visit
It may sound simple enough to verify eligibility before rendering services, yet many billers find themselves jumping through eligibility hurdles after a patient has seen their caretaker.
This may happen because a patient’s coverage has changed from one visit to the next. It could be due to changes in their condition that affect eligibility, or that they didn’t provide all the information necessary for a biller to verify them.
It’s much better to gather all patient information and verify eligibility upfront than to scramble to make a claim post-service. If your current workflow doesn’t stress this, communicate the value of confirming benefits and acquiring appropriate prior authorizations with your front-of-house team immediately.
2. Utilize an automated, rules-based workflow
Think of all the different payers you work with and the many claims you send to them. Consider all the conditions you treat and the unique codes you have to use for each one.
Even your best billers are bound to make mistakes from time to time. They may send a claim to the wrong payer or input the wrong code on a claim to the right payer, resulting in denials and rejections.
The better way for them to work is to utilize an RCM platform with rules-based workflow capability. When you set specific rules, your billers will be notified if they’re about to make a mistake. Your new, advanced system can tell them if information is missing or incorrect. It can advise billers to make necessary corrections before they send out a claim, saving you a significant amount of time in the revenue cycle.
3. Streamline different revenue cycle management processes
It only takes one thing to go wrong for your entire revenue cycle to be affected. And between verifying eligibility, managing claims and processing payments, there are plenty of opportunities for mistakes to occur. Fortunately, you can prevent and correct mistakes by streamlining your RCM processes with a tool like ABILITY EASE® All-Payer.
Stop thinking of eligibility, claims management and payment processing as separate activities. Instead, consolidate these pieces of the revenue cycle into one simple, easy to manage workflow. Invest in one tech-savvy system to help you handle claims from start to finish, instead of having a separate system for eligibility verification, claims and payments.
This will save a significant amount of time, money and stress. It will allow billers to easily move from one step of the revenue cycle to the other. It will lower the risk of mistakes and increase claims acceptance rates.
Before you know it, your average A/R days will be much shorter. Plus, your staff will perform better, become more engaged and have higher overall satisfaction.
4. Diversify patient payment options
With the rise of patient payment responsibility comes a bigger need for providers to diversify their payment options.
Put yourself in the position of a consumer for a moment. Consider how often you swipe a credit/debit card, use a payment application or rely on automated payments to transfer funds. Most people use such tools when paying for everything from a snack at the corner store to their car payment. They expect to have similar payment options when they’re billed for medical services.
This change comes at a low cost when the long-term benefits are factored in. Although it may be a big investment upfront to start offering modern payment options, the positive response from patients will provide the ROI you’re looking for. They are more likely to pay on time and you’ll be able to process payments much easier, too.
5. Resubmit all denied claims
The final way to increase your RCM efficiency is to make sure no claim goes unpaid. The tips mentioned above should significantly reduce the amount of denied claims your team has to resubmit. But, whenever a claim is denied, it needs to be adjusted and sent back to the appropriate payer.
You may prioritize new claims over denied claims. However, every single unpaid dollar adds up – it can contribute to the amount of money you have outstanding, or it can be revenue you collect and utilize.
Luckily, a streamlined workflow can make it much easier to manage denied claims. Combined with a better eligibility verification process, rules-based functions and diversified payment options, your RCM efficiency will be better than ever.
There’s more to maintaining the health of your patients than treating them for their existing conditions. Providing a high level of quality care also means keeping them safe from additional health risks.
Health risks may include everything from a slip and fall to a flu outbreak to more serious matters like strep throat, UTIs and gastrointestinal infections.
If these or any other infection has recently affected your organization, it’s time to re-assess your infection prevention and control strategy. If no infections have occurred thus far, it’s best to keep building on the infection prevention practices you’re currently using.
The four tips listed below can help you lay the foundation for an infection-fighting strategy or improve the one you already have.
1. Create a dedicated quality care and infection prevention team
Fighting harmful bacteria is the responsibility of all staff, so it makes sense to put employees from various departments in charge of infection prevention. A dedicated team can help ensure there are no gaps in your plan to prevent outbreaks. The combined knowledge and experience of each person will provide you with all the information you need to:
- identify high-risk areas where an infection may occur
- improve antibiotic treatment protocols
- limit the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
- expand infection surveillance capabilities
Additionally, a dedicated team can facilitate stronger communication and collaboration as staff works to keep infections at bay – and to control them in the event of an outbreak.
2. Close the gaps across all department functions
Beyond your dedicated team, all staff members should be actively working to avoid an outbreak. Every employee needs to understand the critical importance of infection prevention and be committed to their role in it.
This begins with sharing the right information. Educate your whole team – not just those who work directly with patients – about infection control. Make sure food service individuals understand the best practices to use when preparing and distributing meals. Talk to housekeeping about the personal protective equipment they should use while they work. Explain infection prevention and control to your administrative staff, too.
Also remember to correct bad habits, even for seemingly simple prevention efforts like hand-washing and the use of gloves. These are two of the most commonly overlooked aspects of infection control, but they make a big difference.
3. Streamline infection surveillance
Just as you must close the gaps between each team’s role in infection prevention, you need to also streamline surveillance. This is hard to do with incomplete documentation of outbreaks or a lack of adherence to evidence-based guidelines. However, having all the infection information you need in one place can do wonders for how well you prevent and control outbreaks.
Imagine if you could access infection records at the click of a few buttons instead of spending hours sifting through paper files. Or, if you had the option to track infections on a map or evaluate infection data in terms of category, type and culture organism. You’d have a much deeper understanding of the infections your organization commonly deals with, and you’d be in a better position to prevent future outbreaks.
You don’t need more time in the day or even extra staff to do this. You just need the right tools to help you keep your patients safe.
4. Act fast and track everything
The faster you can identify an infection, the less risk it will present to your patients and staff. Streamlining surveillance will help you notice an outbreak, but you need to have an action plan in place. This is key to controlling an outbreak. A clearly-communicated, effective action plan can be the difference between a small, manageable outbreak and one that affects many patients.
But, the plan you have in place today doesn’t necessarily have to be the one you use tomorrow. Whenever an outbreak happens, gather all the data you can. Record patient interventions and identify clear categories to make sense of the data. Make graphs to reflect employee performance and create a full overview of how effective all infection control and treatment efforts were.
If you’re not currently dealing with an outbreak, you should be continuing the work to keep infections at bay. If an outbreak recently affected your organization, it’s worth trying a new approach to how you prevent and control the spread of harmful bacteria. Fortunately, the tips above can guide you in improving your organization’s performance when managing infections.
Working overtime hurts employee morale. It causes staff burnout and hinders the patient experience, which can also occur when a shift is understaffed. There’s often a correlation between these two scheduling issues, leaving many healthcare leaders wondering what they can do to increase their workforce management efficiency.
The answer is simple: stop the cycle of overtime and burnout!
Not sure how to do that?
Here are a few tips on how to simplify this complex process for the benefit of all. But first, a closer look at the cost of scheduling inefficiencies.
The Real Cost of Scheduling Overtime
Scheduling issues – like working overtime, paying for overtime and struggling to keep up with the workload of an understaffed shift – only lead to more serious problems. These may include:
- Low levels of employee engagement
- Low patient satisfaction scores
- High rates of employee turnover
- Patient safety concerns
- Inefficient allocation of company finances
- Confusion and miscommunication across teams and departments
- Mistakes in patient medication and treatment
- Additional mistakes in other workflows
There are also more specific costs to consider.
For example, if your best nurses are overworked, the training of new nurses can suffer. If your facility is frequently understaffed, performance ratings will reflect that, making it much harder to recruit new patients and/or team members.
Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid these problems.
How to Improve Workforce Management Efficiency
To transform your scheduling workflow, you need to automate the process, establish specific scheduling rules and communicate better.
1. Automate your scheduling process
If you’re not already using an automated tool to schedule shifts, invest in one right away. An application like ABILITY SMARTFORCE® Scheduler can completely change how you identify the needs of each shift and track staff hours.
It can ensure you don’t miscalculate hours or overlook a shift that needs to be filled. It will also help you monitor performance indicators like on-time attendance, sick calls and no-shows. Together, these capabilities can give you a full understanding of how well your scheduling efforts are performing.
2. Establish job-specific rules across your organization
In addition to the automated staffing functions mentioned above, you should also take advantage of setting job-specific rules if this is available. This function will help you differentiate between salary and hourly employees. It can give you a more accurate picture of how each shift adds up on payroll, while further preventing schedule mistakes from occurring.
You might even use this as a resource when identifying hiring needs. The historical data of certain roles/departments can shed light on where extra talent may be beneficial.
3. Communicate expectations and set staffing alerts
When implementing any kind of scheduling change, you need to make sure your staff is on board. The best way to do this is by communicating clearly. Tell them that you’ve heard their concerns and share your plan for improving scheduling efficiency.
Your plan should include clear expectations for how the whole team will move forward. You might choose to address specific problems like call-outs and no-shows with a more rigid disciplinary protocol. Or, you could create a new process for trading shifts and updating availability.
To track how well these rules are adhered to, set staffing alerts. These will tell you when a shift becomes understaffed as individuals drop them or don’t show up.
Having a satisfied, motivated team is critical when running a high-performing organization. And since healthcare employees typically operate at an above average risk of burnout, the pressure is high for employers to master staffing efficiency and employee engagement. Don’t put this off any longer. Improve your scheduling process today to enhance staff performance and satisfaction.
Millennials are now the largest population of working Americans. This generation makes up 34% of the nation’s workforce, and many millennials are either already part of a healthcare organization or have plans to enter this industry. However, not all industry leaders understand the effects this has on workforce management.
Many long-time medical professionals are out of touch with the strengths, desires and habits of millennials. These leaders are slow to adjust to technology-based processes and new ways of thinking, which can significantly impact their organizations in a negative way.
Is your team already experiencing workforce-related issues, specifically with millennials? Are you interested in taking a proactive approach to better reach and retain millennial employees?
Here are three ways to prepare your organization for the growing millennial employee population within healthcare.
1. Improve outdated processes
Millennials have grown up with the internet. They’re used to working with automated systems and intuitive programs for both professional and personal functions. They work fast and smart, often using technology to support their work.
If your organization is still sending out claims by standard mail or printing staff schedules on paper, you’re not operating with millennials in mind. This population wants to be part of a team that encourages innovative thinking. They respond best to workforce management processes that save time and improve efficiency, which are only present in organizations that utilize advanced tools.
Consider the processes you currently have in place and ask yourself where they can be improved. You may choose to upgrade how you enroll new patients, bill claims, track staff credentials or capture market share. There’s no limit to the progress your organization can make when you combine the right technology with a staff who knows how to use it.
2. Implement advanced communication channels
Not all improvements have to occur at a high level. Simply changing how your team communicates can make a big difference in millennial engagement. It is this generation’s nature to be hyper-connected, but only when the information they need is easily accessible.
Start using an advanced staff scheduling program like ABILITY SMARTFORCE® instead of a paper-based system. Take advantage of a phone application that allows team members to trade shifts, change availability and request time off. Give them the chance to interact within the app for fun purposes, too. This may include functions that allow employees to share shout-outs or remember important dates like birthdays and work anniversaries.
Millennials won’t be the only ones who respond well to such workforce management improvements. Others on your team are likely to be equally invested in the new communication channels available.
3. Play to the unique characteristics of this generation
The misconception of millennial characteristics is one of the main reasons why professionals across all fields hesitate to adjust to the needs of millennials. Millennials are often thought of as entitled or impatient. Their lack of interest in certain processes may come off as lazy. But, these behaviors often stem from a desire to work in a more efficient manner – and in their mind, technology plays a key part in that.
It could be true that your new hire, age 20-25, is entitled or disengaged. Or, he/she could simply be inquisitive and performance-driven. They may be challenging upper management and the status quo because they’re interested in establishing better workflows. This person might be familiar with technology you haven’t tried yet. They may see the potential to lower mistakes, improve processes and/or boost engagement by leveraging new technology.
Give your millennial workforce the opportunity to present their ideas. Allow them to act on some of the initiatives they present. You’ll likely be satisfied with the results. Beyond better engagement, new tools or processes can potentially save money, improve the patient experience and much more.
Keep in mind these results depend on your willingness and ability to adapt to the tech-savvy millennials on your team. Make it a point to include all employees in the conversation as your organization progresses.
Many healthcare consumers experience confusion and stress regarding their insurance coverage and payment responsibilities. They often have questions about when payments are due, how much they’re expected to pay and why their insurance doesn’t cover a certain treatment.
This can deter patients from seeking treatment at all. It can also cause patients to stop treatment before their condition has been resolved, and those who do continue treatment will become disengaged if their confusion and stress aren’t addressed.
Fortunately, all of this can be prevented with better patient education. If you’ve recently had a patient stop treatment due to payment issues or lack of engagement, consider how well you’re explaining treatments – and the associated eligibility requirements and payment responsibilities.
To keep patients informed at the start of and during treatment, use the tips shared below.
Effective patient education methods
Patient education is an ongoing process and a team effort. From front of house staff who schedule appointments and handle patient payments to those who provide patient care, all employees should be dedicated to offering the best patient education possible.
To help your staff do this, consider implementing some of the following patient education strategies:
- Offer transparent pricing
- Create flexible payment plans
- Disclose if a treatment may not be covered by insurance
Additionally, stress the importance of correcting any misinformation a patient may have about their treatment. If their insurance doesn’t cover a procedure that is deemed necessary by their physician, explain the disconnect as well as you can, and discuss other payment options or procedure alternatives.
The connection between patient education and engagement
Patient education and engagement tend to have a direct relationship. When a patient feels well-informed about their eligibility and payment responsibilities, they typically take more ownership in the process and stay up to date with payments.
But when a patient feels like they haven’t been given the proper information, the opposite occurs. They may pay their medical bills, but they may pay late or not in full.
More importantly, the patient experience suffers. While they try to sort out coverages and out-of-pocket expenses, their treatment can be delayed. Their condition could change or worsen, requiring a new treatment plan, and in turn, a change in eligibility, coverage or payments required. If the burden becomes too great, they may find another provider or stop treatment altogether.
All healthcare providers want clean claims, but not all billing teams have the right tools and practices to operate efficiently. They may be working manually, taking too long to complete prior authorizations or struggling to keep up with denied claims – all of which can significantly delay the revenue cycle.
If your organization is experiencing any of these billing inefficiencies, it’s time to improve your claims management process. Here are three strategies that will help you and your team work faster and smarter.
1. Streamline eligibility checks
Manual workflows don’t allow for the best utilization of time and talent. Tasks take longer to complete, and the work has a higher chance of error. Automating eligibility verifications can give your team a significant amount of time back in the day. It enables faster claims creation and submission, lowers employee stress and increases patient satisfaction.
Streamlining this process also allows providers to determine eligibility for multiple patients at one time, or one patient’s status with multiple payers. Logging into multiple screens to locate co-pays, termination dates, deductibles and coinsurance information becomes a thing of the past. These electronic systems also store and organize data, making it easy for billers to manage patient eligibility and claims.
2. Improve your denials management process
Denials management can be broken down into two parts: resubmitting denied claims and preventing future denials. Adjusting denied claims should have the same priority as creating new claims, and all claims should be validated before they’re sent and tracked after to ensure they are paid. Validation minimizes the risk of making minor, yet common, mistakes such as:
- Sending claims with incomplete or inaccurate patient information
- Sending claims to the wrong payer
- Submitting duplicate claims
Being more proactive against these issues speeds up your RCM, and sets the tone for ongoing claims efficiency.
3. Simplify patient payments
As patient payment responsibility continues to increase, the need for providers to simplify the payment process will rise as well.
Cash and checks won’t cut it anymore. Patients want to be able to swipe their credit/debit card in your office and submit payments online at their own convenience. Some will prefer payment plans with regular small payments to larger, one-time expenses. Patients may also respond well to automated payment options.
Providing various payment options, combined with automated prior authorizations and improved denials management, ensures claims efficiency across the board. Whether you’re sending a claim to insurance companies, Medicare or directly to patients, each payment process should be simple, stress-free and beneficial for all.
Most billers would rather work on fresh claims than to go back and forth with payers to settle denied or partially-paid claims – especially if the new claims are for high-value services. This makes it easy to ignore denied low-value claims as more new claims need to be created and sent out.
But, it doesn’t make sense to let low-value claims go unpaid! At the end of the day, you should be collecting for every single service rendered. If money is slipping through the cracks, it’s time to crack down on your claims management efficiency – and part of this means putting a stronger emphasis on resubmitting low-value denied claims.
Not sure this will make a difference for your organization? Here are the three biggest costs of not resubmitting denied low-value claims.
1. Less income
Every claim that goes unpaid is money you’ve worked for but haven’t received, and won’t receive until each claim is submitted and accepted. It may not seem like much to let $100 or $50 go here or there, but over time, these costs add up. They may result in thousands of unpaid dollars every year, a cycle that will repeat itself until all your claims are accounted for.
Simply by ensuring all denied and partially-paid claims are resubmitted and paid out, you increase your overall revenue.
2. Poor A/R performance
In addition to the financial burden caused by not resubmitting low-value claims, performance indicators take a hit. Collection rates dip as denial rates increase, and these trends will continue until you’ve taken care of your denied claims.
You can also work proactively to solve this problem. Once all denied claims are resubmitted, determine what’s causing so many denials. Make your claims submission process more efficient from the start so that you don’t have to worry about adjusting and resubmitting as many denied claims in the future.
3. Lower patient satisfaction
There’s already enough patient confusion regarding insurance coverage and patient responsibility – and denied unpaid claims only add to patient confusion. They increase frustration, put more responsibility on the patient and may even cause a delay in treatment depending on your organization’s payment policies.
There’s only so much a patient can do to ensure claims get paid. They can provide all the right information at the start of treatment and contact their insurance provider, but it’s your responsibility to manage the claim(s) associated with each patient.
To create a better experience for all, you can:
- Ask staff to verify patient eligibility and coverage prior to treatment
- Utilize historical patient data when creating new claims
- Track claims after they’ve been submitted
- Resubmit denied claims
Whether you currently have a high or low denial rate, the goal you should aspire to is 0%. Your first step in achieving this is to pay more attention to the denials you’ve been ignoring. Your team and your patients will thank you, and your organization will greatly benefit as a stronger bottom line opens doors to new opportunities.
A high-performing billing office is one that rarely sees denied or rejected claims, makes few mistakes and has a thorough understanding of the payers they work with. It’s one that operates at top efficiency, providing the most possible value to the organization it’s part of.
If your billing office is slow to verify patient eligibility or has a high rate of denied or rejected claims, you’re not getting the most value out of this department. It may be time to introduce advanced payment practices – like the use of EHRs and the implementation of intuitive claims management software.
These can transform your billing performance. They position your team for success by giving them the tech-savvy tools they need to create better, faster results.
Here are the top five benefits of using advanced revenue cycle practices.
1. Enjoy faster claims submission and responses
EHRs allow billers to send claims to payers at the click of a few buttons. Compared to the time it takes to fill out a paper form, prepare it to mail and get a response, the benefit of submitting digital claims is clear. You can shorten your claims submission and response time from a few weeks to a few minutes. This significantly speeds up your revenue cycle, allowing you and your team to keep better track of claims and to see them reflected on the books faster.
2. Send claims in batches
Imagine if your billers were able to fill out and send multiple claims at once rather than managing claims one at a time. The batch claim capacity of some advanced payment tools allows them to do just that. This function gives billers the chance to cut their claims management time in half, if not more. It provides the ability to send a group of claims to each payer your organization works with, then adjust and resubmit individual claims as-needed.
3. Access patient history with ease
A few of the reasons why claims get denied may be:
- There is missing patient information
- The patient information provided is inaccurate
- A claim has been sent to the wrong payer
Being able to generate patient history alleviates these problems. Once billers have all necessary patient information in a claims management system, they can easily retrieve it when creating a new claim without worrying if a patient’s name, address or insurance information is accurate. Billers may have to adjust the date to reflect the most recent visit/treatment or add additional services, but these steps are much easier to accomplish with access to patient history than when starting an entire claim from scratch.
4. Set unique rules
Defining unique rules within a claims management system offers two key benefits: it keeps your team up to date with the latest payer requirements and reminds them of your own facility-specific rules. By making payer rules readily available and/or utilizing if/then functions, you’re giving your billing department the resources they need to work smarter rather than harder.
Billers won’t have to hunt down payer information anymore. They’ll be more in tune with the specific needs of each organization you work with and have a deeper understanding of facility-specific expectations.
5. Reduce A/R days
This is where most organizations see the biggest value in using advanced revenue cycle practices. All the benefits listed above have one combined effect: they can largely reduce average A/R days.
Instead of waiting 60-90 days to see payments on the books, you may be waiting as little as 15-30 days. There’s no guarantee that every claim will be a clean claim or that payers will always provide a fast turnaround, but, when your billing department starts operating at top efficiency, it will put pressure on payers to quickly process claims and send payments. The A/R cycle should speed up and the overall financial performance of your organization will greatly improve.
Additional benefits of using advanced claims management practices include:
- Fewer claims rejections
- Fewer human errors throughout the revenue cycle
- More time back in your team’s workday
Together, these benefits add an immense value to your organization. They create a healthier bottom line, a more engaged team and increase patient satisfaction. With advanced revenue cycle practices, everyone wins.
As of 2017, the average rate of healthcare staff turnover was 20.6% – a number calculated out of 11 million employees in an array of different healthcare markets and job functions.
From 2017 to now, the healthcare market has only gotten more competitive, which gives employees an advantage while putting pressure on employers to prioritize staff retention. Every time a person leaves your organization, it comes at a high cost. Between the overtime it takes to fill in shifts, the stress that under-staffing puts on your team and the cost of onboarding new talent, you risk losing a significant amount of time and money each year if you don’t focus on staff retention.
Here are three simple, yet effective staff retention strategies to utilize.
1. Continue onboarding beyond the first week
The onboarding process spans well beyond a new hire’s first week. It’s a process that should be carefully thought out and include an equal level of engagement from supervisors and the new employee.
A healthy onboarding period lasts about 60-90 days. This gives new hires a chance to truly get a feel for the organization. It’s their time to take on all the job functions within their role, get to know colleagues and present fresh ideas to their managers. From a leadership perspective, 60-90 days is a great time to learn a new hire’s habits. It provides a glimpse of how often an individual may show up early or come in late, call out or pick up extra shifts and/or earn recognition.
In terms of staff retention, think of a new hire’s first few months as the company’s first impression. You may have won them over during the hiring process, but you must ensure that the day to day operations and actions of others reflect what was discussed in interviews. Otherwise, you risk creating a costly disconnect.
2. Invest in professional growth
Don’t forget about a new hire once they’ve gotten settled in. In fact, make professional growth and development a priority for all the people you oversee.
This may mean you become more proactive about how employees meet continued education requirements. It might be the reason you start having more frequent one on one meetings or informally checking in with your team. Other growth opportunities include:
- Inviting/sending staff to conferences
- Bringing in industry experts for training opportunities
- Offering leadership development and clear pathways for advancement
Talk to your team before you roll out any of these development initiatives. You want to make sure you offer what they really want, rather than risk acting on a false assumption.
3. Make a habit of coaching and recognizing others
Sometimes, encouraging employee growth is as simple as making a genuine connection with them. Culture is a big reason why people stay or leave their organization. You can offer all the training and development you want, but it has to be matched with a genuine concern and interest in your people in order to be effective.
Make it a point to recognize staff more. This can be something you start doing at the end of team meetings or you can develop a special retention program. It can have a competitive spin on it and recognitions can range from verbal shout-outs to special tokens of appreciation. Whatever initiative you come up with, make sure it’s received well. Don’t hesitate to adjust as needed and continue improving the program once you have a good recognition system in place.
There’s one more retention strategy worth mentioning: gather and learn from employee retention data. As you work to implement the strategies mentioned above, measure their impact. Notice what your team responds best to and find ways to build on these initiatives. The ROI of higher performance, more staff engagement and a longer average employee tenure will be well worth the time and money you invest in your team.
Between gathering and verifying patient data, keeping up with new regulations and managing the day-to-day operations of your organization, there’s a good chance your staff is experiencing information overload.
At some point, important details will slip through the cracks and miscommunication will become more frequent. This can lead to under-performance within your organization, as well as an increase in mistakes and staff burnout.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case for your team.
Here are five things you can do to better prevent information overload.
1. Break down your emails
Most team communication emails cram updates, action steps and requests all into one message. To point out the “main ideas,” different words and phrases within one email may be bolded, underlined, highlighted or written in a color other than black. When all these differentiators are mixed together, staff members are left having to discern what information is the most important.
This kind of confusion can be avoided if you make it an organizational standard to send clean emails. Limit the important details within one email to two or three key points – ideally, they should relate to one another.
This may increase the number of emails you send to your team, but it will also increase how well information is understood and retained.
2. Make patient data easier to manage
Another tip to ease information overload is to simplify how you gather and manage patient data. This may include:
- Offering new patients the option to fill out forms online
- Giving patients access to a portal with all their payment and treatment information
- Regular staff training on coding procedures and new rules and regulations regarding patient information
- Providing continued training on how to improve patient interactions to better get to the root of their condition and explain their role in treatment more clearly
There’s often a gap between the information that a nurse/physician writes down at the start of treatment, the information another healthcare professional utilizes during treatment and how well a patient understands their condition. Aim to close this gap by being more clear and consistent. It will transform the kind of care your staff is able to offer and significantly enhance the patient experience.
3. Create a better patient data sharing process
If you often send patient referrals to other providers, or if most of your patients are referrals, you may want to improve how you share patient data. The more effective you are at communicating patient information, the more successful treatments will be.
When miscommunication occurs between providers, it causes a costly inconvenience for patients. Individuals are left having to track down their healthcare information from various offices before their treatment can move forward. This delays care, hinders quality and can increase a patient’s risk for other conditions to occur.
But, simplifying how you share and receive patient information can make their experience much better and relieve some stress from your team.
4. Minimize out-of-work texts and calls
How often do you find yourself texting staff members to fill in for shifts? Do you have a habit of calling people on their day off?
Such communication is highly detrimental. It doesn’t give your staff a chance to unwind from their work. It makes them more likely to burn out or leave your organization.
If you have an immediate need to communicate, do so over email or via your staff scheduling portal. Calls and texts make sense during emergencies, but most of the time, they just contribute to the information overload your staff experiences every day – on and off the clock.
5. Ask for staff input
The final way to prevent information overload in your organization is to gather feedback from your team. Ask them how they feel about the current communication standards in place – both amongst the team and with patients. See what they’d like to have more training on and set aside time to come together as an organization. Staff engagement makes it much easier to eliminate confusion and to push forward new ideas. This also ensures you don’t overlook anything that needs improvement regarding the expectations you’ve set for your team and the patient data they work with every day.
Healthcare professionals are expected to provide personal, attentive care to everyone they treat, to drive innovation within their organization and adapt to industry changes. They can’t do this effectively if they’re always juggling information. Keep things clear and concise and watch how well your team – and their performance – responds.