Empower nurses – and boost retention – with 7 practical strategies

Even before the pandemic pushed the healthcare industry to the brink, the U.S. was already facing a massive shortage of nurses, with a deficit of over 900,000 nurses projected by 2030.1

At the same time, never has it been clearer that nurses are at the cornerstone of patient care, and it goes well beyond just fulfilling the duties of the job. This past year, during a time full of upheaval and uncertainty, nurses largely proved that they are reliable, resilient and committed to their work, even sacrificing their own mental and physical health to put patients first. That’s why for the 19th year straight, nurses topped the list of most trusted professionals, according to a Gallup poll.2

As the vaccine distribution continues and society returns to “normal,” the focus must shift from mere survival to how to slow a looming exodus from the profession.

Praise and applause aren’t enough to reverse the shortage

Acknowledgement and celebration of nurses’ efforts are critical components for addressing job dissatisfaction, but it can’t stop there. Every day, nurses are still overworked, fatigued and teetering on the verge of burnout.

To address those issues, organizations must implement staffing processes that create a better work/life balance for their nurses – even if time and resources are limited right now.

7 practices that require minimal effort but offer maximum reward

Offer your nurses more balance and control to increase job satisfaction and morale with these simple, but practical, tips:

  1. Make staffing and scheduling collaborative. When employees are engaged in the process, they are generally more accepting of – and happier with – their schedules.
  2. Provide high-level visibility and real-time access that only technology can deliver. You need a quick and easy way to assess staffing conditions at any given moment. Plus, insights from data and analytics enable you to make proactive and in-the-moment decisions, reducing much of the frustration around staffing issues.
  3. Invest in a solution that is intuitive and delivers quick results. Now is not the time to bog down your organization by deploying a solution that is hard to learn, use or deploy.
  4. Provide staff with more stability. Adopt technology that enables you to forecast and adapt to staffing ups and downs, so nurses don’t feel like they are in a constant state of chaos.
  5. Focus on matching nurses with patient needs. Nurses appreciate equitable, balanced workloads.
  6. Streamline the open shift management process. Eliminate the stress around last-minute call offs and under-staffing by making it easy for your team to fill open shifts.
  7. Make the process more efficient for nurse managers. With less time spent on scheduling, nurse managers can focus on their staff and patients.

For more in-depth advice on how to align your staffing processes with nurse retention initiatives, download our eBook, Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.

The right healthcare scheduling application at just the right time

With ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, you can easily update your staffing processes to help improve work/life balance, job satisfaction and morale, which can go a long way toward boosting retention.

  • Manage staff-to-patient ratios easily
  • Avoid costly inefficiencies and overtime
  • Forecast staffing needs to maximize accuracy
  • Empower staff with a collaborative approach

Learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler.


1“United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” Stephen P Juraschek, Xiaoming Zhang, Vinoth Ranganathan, and Vernon W Lin, The American Journal of Medical Quality. September/October 2019: 473-481, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31479295/

2 “U.S. Ethics Ratings Rise for Medical Workers and Teachers,” Gallup, December 22, 2020, https://news.gallup.com/poll/328136/ethics-ratings-rise-medical-workers-teachers.aspx

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Three ways to simplify denial management and achieve cleaner claims

It’s no secret that it’s getting harder for healthcare organizations to get paid for their work. As a trusted provider, you are under increasing pressure to collect more money and cut operational expenses while continuing to provide top-notch care, especially during a public health emergency.

On top of that, you are also still faced with keeping your workforce safe and keeping the public protected while in your facility.

The following are three ways to strengthen your overall denial prevention and management process.

1. Analyze denial management and shift your thought process

While you may consider denials a reality of being in healthcare, it doesn’t always have to be that way. Of course, the recent downturn in the economy is causing patients as well as insurance companies to tighten their wallets. And that directly impacts your A/R days and cash flow.

This increase in financial pressure is elevated throughout healthcare organizations, which are now forced to be creative and find alternative solutions. The good news is that you have more power than you think to prevent denials. It all begins with understanding reimbursement and compliance rules. This also extends to creating rules within your organization to foster excellent care through optimizing internal denial prevention and management programs.

2. Identify types of denials

Often, inefficient manual processes and a lack of accurate data lead to the staffing office team and unit managers making desperate phone calls to find staff to fill critical open shifts at the last minute. Without predictive analytics to foresee when understaffing will be an issue and without the tools to do mass outreach to staff who are qualified to work the shift, the process becomes reliant on haphazardly prepared calling lists and large numbers of phone calls. The staffing office and unit managers spend valuable time on the calling efforts, and nurses become frustrated with the frequent calls that disrupt their personal time and add unneeded job-related stress.

Taking advantage of push notification capabilities can eliminate this problem. Managers and staffing coordinators identify the staff who are qualified to fill the open shifts and send notifications to those who are eligible. Staff can elect to receive the information via text, email, or within the mobile app.

3. Optimize your clean claims

Accurate, up-to-date information is a critical part of avoiding denials and achieving clean claims. That means that you need to have solid pre-registration, check-in, and intake processes in place. Preferably, the pre-registration process is happening prior to the patient’s visit.

Denial prevention starts with a clean claim. Be sure to validate all the required information prior to data entry so as many errors as possible are avoided from the start. Keep in mind the types of accurate information needed for an insurance company to process your claim correctly the first time. Doing so will help you improve clean claims and get paid more quickly.

Want to learn more about improving your denial management process?

Check out ABILITY’s free, on-demand webinar, Denial Management Made Easy, where RCM expert Kem Tolliver digs deeper into these important topics. By watching, you’ll get an in-depth look at several key terms and definitions, and common code sets that are integral to the denial prevention process. You’ll also gain access to additional resources to help you avoid claims denials.

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY EASE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

New HETS updates to include latest COVID-19 vaccine data, code changes and more

Important updates are coming to HETS, the eligibility verification system used by healthcare providers to interact with Medicare. The changes will feature updates on COVID-19 vaccine administration, beneficiary entitlement reason codes, acupuncture benefits reimbursement and pneumococcal vaccine (PPV) service histories.

The updates, which are expected to go into effect April 3, are fully detailed in the CMS HETS Companion Guide.

COVID-19 vaccinations

One of the most significant HETS updates deals with COVID-19 vaccinations. Medicare will deliver the most recent information for vaccinations and vaccine administration. Vaccine administration can be rendered under Medicare Part A or Medicare Part B. The updated eligibility responses might include:

  • Applicable Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) or Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code(s) for each COVID-19 immunization
  • Immunization dates for each CPT or HCPCS code
  • Rendering provider NPI for each CPT or HCPCS code

Consistent nomenclature for Medicare Advantage (MA)

To create more consistent terminology across the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, this update will include changes to HETS language that will be carried forward. Currently, HETS documents use both MA and Managed Care Organization (MCO) terminology. Beginning with this release, HETS documentation will change all MCO references to the MA terminology.

Entitlement reason codes

The HETS updates will bring changes to entitlement reason codes for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage when the data is available. The entitlement reason codes are:

  • 0: Beneficiary insured due to age Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
  • 1: Beneficiary insured due to disability
  • 2: Beneficiary insured due to end stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • 3: Beneficiary insured due to disability and current ESRD

Acupuncture benefits reimbursement

Medicare will return acupuncture benefits when the appropriate acupuncture Service Type Code “64” is submitted in the request. Acupuncture benefits will include:

  • The number of technical sessions remaining and next technical date
  • Number of professional sessions remaining and next professional date

Pneumococcal vaccine (PPV) returns

Following the update, Medicare will return prior PPV service history for preventive service codes 90670 and 90732 if the Beneficiary has active Medicare Part B coverage. Previously, Medicare only returned PPV service history if the beneficiary had either Part A or Part B coverage.

Accessing the new codes and information will be easy for healthcare providers using ABILITY applications with integrated eligibility components. Our software – from ABILITY CHOICE All-Payer and ABILITY EASE All-Payer to ABILITY COMPLETE and ABILITY EASE MEDICARE – includes the latest changes to keep your facility operating efficiently and profitably. Learn more from ABILITY experts.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY®, ABILITY CHOICE ®, ABILITY EASE ® and ABILITY COMPLETE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Bring efficiency and visibility to COVID vaccine distribution

After months of battling COVID-19, healthcare workers were hopeful that vaccinations would offer some much-needed light in a long pandemic tunnel. Unfortunately, the process has often been rocky.

“When I went to receive my first COVID vaccination, I was brought back to reality fast,” shared one ER nurse in a rural hospital in West Virginia. “Nurses and doctors were piled into this room and waiting in a line that went out into the parking lot. Despite showing up on time and all that waiting, many went home unvaccinated because the hospital ran out of doses. We found out employees who work outside of the fray had received their shots before the nurses and doctors facing it every day. It was discouraging and infuriating. I know hospital leadership was trying to do their best, but it was so poorly planned and disorganized.”

Stories like that aren’t uncommon. The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been a challenge, to say the least. An initial dosage shortage in December1 meant ruthless prioritization, with healthcare workers at the top of the list.

Still, as the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021 even some of the nation’s top hospitals were struggling to rollout the vaccine in a sensible way.2

Cautious optimism as more doses become available

Promising news came in mid-February when President Biden announced his administration had secured 200 million more doses3 of COVID-19 vaccines – a 50% increase.

However, along with that encouraging news came a realistic look at the logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans, which could take well into the summer. Especially tricky is that the vaccination requires two doses on a specific schedule.

Improving vaccine distribution with two ABILITY applications

To ensure that more healthcare professionals are vaccinated in a timely manner, leaders must develop a distribution process, but without broad visibility and tracking mechanisms, planning is a challenge. Two applications from ABILITY can help.

While ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, a workforce management application, generally simplifies the process of scheduling staff and open shift management, it is especially valuable for vaccine distribution. Use it to:

  • Schedule both vaccinations for every employee in your facility. Plus, gain the visibility to see in an instant where appointments stand across the organization and by department.
  • Notify staff of scheduled vaccines. Send notifications to staff of their vaccination appointment.
  • Enable employees to swap appointments as needed. If something urgent comes up, a staff member can find a replacement, so schedule appointment slots aren’t wasted.
  • Track compliance. Receive alerts when staff vaccinations are upcoming or overdue.

Overall, this application can help provide better management and planning for those receiving and giving the vaccines.

Further streamline your vaccine distribution process with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Credentialer, which enables you to easily track credentials and organize licenses, certifications and in-services all in one place. You can see at a glance who hasn’t taken their first or second dose, plus both you and employees receive alerts when a vaccination is upcoming or overdue. That can be instrumental in scheduling staff to work with high-risk patients.

Both of these affordable applications are accessible from mobile phones, tablets or computers and both are easy to learn and deploy.

To learn more and see both applications in action, schedule a demo.



1 “Trump administration passed up chance to lock in more Pfizer vaccine doses,” NBC News, December 8, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/trump-administration-passed-chance-lock-more-pfizer-vaccine-doses-n1250357.

2 “As Hospitals Roll Out COVID-19 Vaccines, Health Care Workers Describe Chaos And Anger,” NPR, December 28, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/28/950427961/as-hospitals-rollout-covid-19-vaccines-healthcare-workers-describe-chaos-and-ang

3 “With More Vaccines Secured, Biden Warns of Hurdles to Come,” New York Times, February 11, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/11/us/politics/biden-coronavirus-vaccines.html.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Choosing a mobile scheduling app that empowers your staff

In many areas of our lives, mobile apps have become integrated into our daily routines. We order groceries, coordinate curbside pick-up of lunch, track our fitness, schedule dinner with friends, navigate to our destination – all powered by a smartphone and apps.

Mobile staffing and scheduling apps that deliver the same level of convenience are becoming a must-have for healthcare workers. Nurses often have irregular schedules that can change rapidly based on evolving patient dynamics. Well-designed mobile technology can help staff manage their work schedule and provide a foundation for a better work/life balance.

Any strategy that can help boost morale and eliminate frustrations for nurses requires serious consideration. The mobile scheduling app that your organization chooses should be evaluated carefully to ensure it truly delivers the benefits your nurses will appreciate. For maximum effectiveness, a mobile scheduling app should streamline key processes for your staff. Flexibility is also key; look for an app that allows users to determine how they see and interact with the information.

Here’s how the ABILITY SMARTFORCE® Scheduler mobile app delivers the benefits your staff find the most beneficial:

Calendar management

When staff want to know what shifts they’re working or if there are open shifts on a day they’re available to work, the mobile app puts the data at their fingertips.

The app also makes it easy to see if staff have met their staffing commitments. A quick check in the mobile app lets them know if they’ve fulfilled their weekend requirement for the month or which holidays they need to work this year.

Going a step further, the mobile app provides the ability for staff to sync their work schedule with their personal calendar. Whether they use Google, Microsoft or Apple for their calendar, information can be synchronized so it’s easy to manage work obligations and personal commitments.

Eliminate intrusive calls

One of the greatest staffing frustrations for nurses are those frequent calls from the staffing office or their unit manager asking them to pick up open shifts. Nurses are caregivers at heart, and they want to help. But, ongoing calls during their time off adds unnecessary anxiety and disrupts their work/life balance. Those calls intrude on their personal time, and when they happen too often, nurses stop answering their phone.

Hearing the phone ring and knowing it’s the staffing office or your unit manager calling to beg you to pick up an open shift can be aggravating and stressful, but staff need to stay in-the-know about staffing and scheduling updates. With the mobile app, staff determine how they will receive the information. They can choose push notifications on their phone, within the app, by text or via email – or a combination of methods. It’s a better process for everyone involved, as annoying phone calls are eliminated, staff are kept informed and open shifts can be filled more efficiently.

Quick and easy staff shout-outs

In the fast-paced, high-stress healthcare environment, managers need to take every opportunity to engage with their staff. The mobile app makes it easy for managers to share a kind word or a compliment with their team. Whether the manager would like to recognize an entire group for a job well done, say happy birthday to someone in their unit, or provide encouragement after a tough shift, the flexible technology enables quick, effective communication that boosts morale.

Touchless badging

When timeclocks aren’t available or a touchless option is preferred, the app provides an easy alternative for badging in and out. The option to use either geo-fencing or iBeacons ensures accurate, fast badging for staff without concerns about lines at the timeclock.

Easy communication with float staff

Changes in patient demand and staffing requirements happen quickly and frequently, making it essential to have streamlined workflows in place when staff need to be reassigned. The mobile app makes it easy to alert staff about where they will be working for their entire shift or even just a portion of their shift. The flexible, easy-to-use technology ensures staff receive timely communication in the way that works best for them and can effectively be deployed to the right place.

Scheduling issues can be a source of frustration for your staff, especially when it’s hard to access information and communication with staff is chaotic and intrusive. A mobile scheduling app can be an impactful part of your organization’s staff engagement initiatives.

For more information about staffing practices that empower your staff, check out this eBook, “Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.

To learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler and the mobile app, contact us for a demo. Our product specialists are nurses who understand your challenges and can show you how the right staffing solution can benefit your organization.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Five leading practices to streamline your open shift management process

What does the time leading up to each shift look like within your hospital?

• Is there a frantic scramble to find staff who might be available to pick up critical open shifts?

• Are patients backed up in the ER or PACU, waiting for staffing issues to be resolved so they can be admitted on a floor?

• Does your staffing office look like a phone bank, with the staffing coordinators calling nurse after nurse to ask them to come in?

• Does each unit fend for themselves when finding staff to fill open shifts?

If this chaos is the reality at your health system, your organization could benefit greatly from an overhaul of the workflows used to find staff when there are gaps in the schedule.

Here are five best practices for open shift management to consider.

1. Ensure managers and staff nurses work collaboratively.

When staffing and scheduling is a top-down process that does not engage front-line nurses, it can be a source of job dissatisfaction for staff. Instead, provide more opportunities for nurses to participate in the process and choose the open shifts they want to work.

That cooperative approach benefits the entire organization. When nurses are more accountable for choosing their shifts, managers spend less time doing administrative staffing tasks, nurses appreciate having input into their schedule, and open shifts are filled more effectively.

2. Eliminate the heavy reliance on phone calls.

Often, inefficient manual processes and a lack of accurate data lead to the staffing office team and unit managers making desperate phone calls to find staff to fill critical open shifts at the last minute. Without predictive analytics to foresee when understaffing will be an issue and without the tools to do a mass outreach to staff who are qualified to work the shift, the process becomes reliant on haphazardly prepared calling lists and large numbers of phone calls. The staffing office and unit managers spend valuable time on the calling efforts, and nurses become frustrated with the frequent calls that disrupt their personal time and add unneeded job-related stress.

Taking advantage of push notification capabilities can eliminate this problem. Managers and staffing coordinators identify the staff who are qualified to fill the open shifts and send notifications to those who are eligible. Staff can elect to receive the information via text, email or within the mobile app.

3. Promote communication and cooperation with enterprise-wide visibility.

Without a comprehensive view of staffing needs across the organization, each unit becomes its own silo. A better approach is to make sure the staffing office and all unit managers can see the complete picture so they are empowered to work together to fill open shifts. With that enterprise-wide approach, staff are optimized and patient care needs are met across the entire organization.

4. Move from reactive to proactive.

By using technology to help them see forecasted staffing needs, the team can adapt their plans in advance of the shift. With the ability to make better staffing decisions earlier in the process, the reactive decisions become proactive choices. Unit managers and the team in the staffing office can be more strategic and focused on future planning because they’re no longer spending their time mitigating the issues of staffing shortages or overages. Staff benefit from more schedule stability because there’s less need to flex up and down just before or during the shift.

5. Use the right technology to support the process.

When technology enables the entire team to participate in the scheduling process, open shift management is streamlined for everyone. ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enables the collaboration and data-driven decision-making required for a more effective open shift management process.

Here are four key workflow areas where technology transforms the process from chaotic to collaborative:
• Proactively spotting open shifts – With predictive analytics highlighting staffing needs days before the start of the shift, unit managers and staffing coordinators have more time to make the necessary changes.
• Communicating with staff – Instead of one-to-one phone outreach, the staffing office and unit managers can send out push notifications to any staff who are qualified to fill the open shift.
• Requesting open shifts – Based on their chosen method of communication, staff are notified about open shifts. Because they have more advance notice, staff can pick the shifts that fit their schedule, giving them a better work/life balance.
• Filling the shift – Based on criteria such as date and time of request, seniority and overtime status, the unit manager or staffing office can award the shift to one of the nurses who requested it. Staff who requested receive a notification to let them know whether or not they have been assigned the shift.

To learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, contact us for a demo. Our product specialists are nurses who understand the challenges of open shift management and can show you how the right staffing solution can benefit your organization.

Improving the open shift management process is one way to engage your staff. For information about additional staffing practices that empower your staff, check out this eBook, “Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.”


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

COVID-19 vaccinations: ABILITY helps providers get paid

Now that COVID-19 vaccinations are available, providers across the care continuum are dealing with the same question: How will I be reimbursed for administering the vaccine?

As you likely know, the COVID-19 vaccinations are being provided at no cost to patients or providers. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to lose money for administering vaccinations. You can bill for that service. But how can you ensure that you enter these claims correctly so you can get paid without spending a lot of time on claims corrections?

Two ways to bill for COVID-19 vaccinations

Providers administering COVID-19 vaccinations are currently eligible for $16.94 reimbursement for a patient’s first shot and $28.39 for their second dose.1 According to CMS’s guidelines, you can bill for vaccine administration in one of two ways:

  1. Single claims
  2. Roster billing

Unlike previous instances in which Medicare covered the cost of patients’ medications, when submitting claims for COVID-19 vaccine administration, you should not include the vaccine codes on the claim (when vaccines are free). Also, Medicare Advantage Plan participants can submit COVID-19 vaccine administration claims to Original Medicare for all of your Medicare Advantage patients in 2020 and 2021.2

While many providers prefer single claims, others may opt to save some time with roster billing. This option allows you to submit multiple claims at once up to a certain number. Roster billing has traditionally been used for flu and pneumococcal vaccines, and CMS has announced it will be available for COVID-19 vaccines, though you will not be able to combine shot codes for different vaccines on a single roster bill.

With traditional roster billing, you can only include 10 patients per roster bill. With providers administering thousands of vaccinations per day, even roster billing can be extremely cumbersome and time-consuming.

Simplify COVID-19 vaccine billing with ABILITY

With ABILITY EASE Medicare, you can centralize and automate the billing process – whether you’re submitting single claims or roster bills. And, with ABILITY EASE All-Payer, you can automate the process for all of your payers, including Medicare and private payers.

Get more information from CMS on billing for COVID-19 vaccine administration here. Then discover how ABILITY can help you streamline the billing process for COVID-19 vaccinations and all your Medicare claims by scheduling a demo today.



1. “Key Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccine Billing and Coding,” Jacqueline LaPointe, RevCycle Intelligence, December 16, 2020. Accessed January 7, 2021, https://revcycleintelligence.com/news/key-considerations-for-covid-19-vaccine-billing-and-coding

2. “Medicare Billing for COVID-19 Vaccine Shot Administration,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website, accessed January 5, 2021. https://www.cms.gov/medicare/covid-19/medicare-billing-covid-19-vaccine-shot-administration


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY EASE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Making sense of the new No Pay RAP

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking the final step in eliminating up-front payments for services rendered across the healthcare industry. A new No Pay RAP (Request for Anticipated Payment) policy for home health providers begins January 1, 2021.

While CMS has relaxed the criteria for RAP submission, many home health agencies remain concerned about how to protect their revenue cycle and stay in compliance with the new policy.

8 things to know for 2021

Under the new rule, there will no longer be a payment associated with the RAP, and a late submission penalty has been added.

Because of these changes, CMS has lessened the requirements for submitting the RAP in 2021:

  • There are only two criteria for RAP submission: 1) a written or verbal physician’s order and 2) documentation of an initial visit and admission to home health care
  • A completed OASIS assessment and established plan of care will no longer be required prior to submitting the RAP
  • Only a principal diagnosis code is required on the RAP – secondary diagnoses are optional

The No Pay RAP rules that will impact home health payments for 2021 include:

  • RAP reimbursement will decrease from a 20% split payment to zero
  • Claims without RAPs will not be paid
  • A “non-timely submission payment reduction” for every day the RAP is late when not submitted within five days of the start of care date
  • For 60-day episodes of care, RAPs for both the first and second 30-day periods may be submitted at the same time
  • Any delays in claims submission will push back the payment cycle

How to protect your revenue cycle

While home health providers have come to rely on the split-payment model to keep cash flow stable, it is imperative to adjust billing processes as soon as possible to remain solvent, especially while operating under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM).

Here are 5 steps your agency can take to avoid unnecessary payment reductions in 2021:

  1. Ensure the start of care visit is completed and documented as early as possible
  2. Make sure accurate coding is completed expediently
  3. Submit every RAP within five days of the start of care
  4. File claims after the first 30 days of every episode of care
  5. Ensure billing compliance by using claims management software that stays up to date with CMS regulations

ABILITY helps home health agencies achieve a seamless revenue cycle with claims management and analytics technology that aligns with regulatory requirements. Position your organization for revenue success by requesting a demo today.


Source: “Penalty for Delayed Request for Anticipated Payment (RAP Submission – Implementation),” MLN Matters 11855, CMS, October 27, 2020, https://www.cms.gov/files/document/MM11855.pdf.

How to Master Webside Skills for Telehealth Success

For many practices, a successful transition from in-person to online care is about much more than finding the right virtual care platform. It’s also critical to consider updated regulations regarding telehealth, patient access to and literacy of technology, and building webside manner skills.

Webside manner” is the technology-conscious approach to meeting with patients online. It’s a new skillset for many healthcare professionals across specialties and organizations – to share their medical knowledge via a computer or phone screen in a way that is simultaneously tech-savvy and mindful of the patient’s experience, while still delivering quality care.

For providers who are looking to get more comfortable practicing in a digital space, we’ve identified the top five tips to master webside manners.

1. Set the scene

It’s best to take all virtual appointments from the same place every day and to make sure the dedicated area is ready for an online meeting.

Take a look at the wall or backdrop behind you. Is there too much art hung up or items on a shelf that could be distracting to your patients? Are there bright colors, big windows or moving objects? Any of these things can take away from your virtual meeting simply by being in the background.

The ideal setting for a telehealth appointment is one where there are no more than a few items visible to the camera other than yourself. This ensures you are the focus, not the art, plants or books behind you.

2. Know your angles

Once you’ve identified the best place in your home or practice to conduct telehealth visits, it’s good to know where to place yourself in relation to the camera.

Too close can be a little awkward or intimidating. You don’t want your face to take up your patients’ entire screen in their view. Too far and you become less of their focus and risk sound quality if the microphone can’t easily pick up your voice.

The best place to be in relation to the camera is centered, about a foot away. Also make sure that you are not backlit; it’s better to have lighting in front of you so that your face and expressions are clear. Avoid backlighting or dim lighting.

3. Take your time

In addition to pre-visit preparations, remember to take your time during each session. Patients are navigating this new setup, too. Those seeking mental health may have heightened levels of anxiety or stress. Elderly patients may need a little coaching on how to work the virtual meeting tool you’re using. Children may have trouble focusing and those who are caregivers for others may have many questions throughout the session.

Everyone is navigating this new setting together. While most patients and their families will be comfortable using the technology, many people may wonder if they’ll receive the same level of care they’ve come to expect. Give each patient your full attention throughout the session, be mindful of their unique needs and make the conversation more than just a medical assessment.

4. Practice and train

If you have a comfortable background, good angles and enough time for each patient, you may just need a bit of practice. Getting better at running a telehealth visit is like any other skill – it improves with repetition.

Once you’re satisfied with your telehealth skillset, share it with others. Take time to walk your scheduler, admin and/or biller through the platform you’re using. Show them the whole process. While some aspects of the visit may be more pertinent to their responsibilities, having a general understanding of your overall telehealth processes will be helpful for everyone in your practice as virtual visits become more widely used.

5. Continue to improve

We understand it can be challenging to be both the care provider and the producer or tech support for telehealth. Even with an easy-to-use virtual care platform, there will be learning opportunities that continue to arise as you, your patients and your staff get more comfortable with telehealth.

As such, your webside skills will evolve. The more you use telehealth and establish simple processes from scheduling to capturing payment for virtual visits, the more confident you’ll be in not just the medical assessment you provide, but in the way which you’re caring for patients.

For support in establishing a successful, stress-free telehealth experience, connect with our team to make your virtual visits the best they can be.

Optimize your workforce with organization-wide visibility

Healthcare facilities have often relied to some degree on traveling nurses and visiting physicians or specialists. Especially in locations where full-time positions aren’t necessary or realistic, from a budget and personnel standpoint, those healthcare professionals will spread their hours across multiple locations.

Widespread healthcare staffing shortages, coupled with the potential for calamities like the pandemic, have no doubt underscored the critical need for traveling healthcare personnel. It has also accentuated the dire need for organizations to have the flexibility to move staff from one floor to another – and one location to another – when the need arises.

Siloed departments impede quick decision-making

The challenge for many healthcare organizations is they don’t operate under one cohesive scheduling system. Different locations use different systems, and in some cases, departments within the same facility adopt different technology or staffing processes.

Scheduling managers are often operating in a vacuum, focused only on their direct reports. If a nurse calls off, it usually means a shift is left under-staffed or other nurses are pushed into overtime to keep patient-to-staff ratios where they need to be. Meanwhile, on another floor within the same hospital, nurses are being sent home early because census is low.

Healthcare leaders may reach out to other departments in emergency situations when severe understaffing and too-high census collide. But that often involves an inefficient process of calling around to see who can send someone to another floor. In the meantime, employees are overwhelmed, and patients are waiting for care.

Leaders need more visibility across the organization

To prevent understaffing, overstaffing and overtime, leaders need more visibility into specific schedules and across locations. That’s true across all levels of the organization, from team leaders to executives. You just can’t get that level of visibility without scheduling applications or software. For example, with SMARTFORCE Scheduler, managers, on a permissions basis, can see who is available to work across multiple locations, whether those locations are in the same building or across the state. With ABILITY, you also get these time- and money-saving benefits:

  • PowerScheduler™. In one screen, managers can view schedules in one-week, two-week, four-week or six-week formats, to see when all staff members are scheduled to work. It provides a simple, complete view that enables quicker, smarter decision-making when it comes to covering open shifts with both home unit staff and staff from other locations.
  • “By Employee” scheduling. Move staff into any department they are qualified for and can access regardless of their location. Units that don’t allow staff to float in can be locked down so only home unit staff will be scheduled.
  • Overtime monitoring. See immediately who is approaching overtime in your specific department. Plus, because overtime and hour commitments are not locked to a single location or unit, you can easily determine the overtime risk of moving staff between locations.
  • Staff collaboration. Using their personal devices, staff can access the schedule, receive communication about open shifts, swap shifts and volunteer for shifts. The application also enables staff to pick up shifts at other locations if they possess the right credentials and qualifications.

At the highest level, ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enables you to optimize staff across your entire organization, helping to ensure individual units’ needs are met, while reducing the cost of overstaffing and overtime. To see the top mobile scheduling app ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler in action, request a demo now.


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