Oct 18 2022
Reading Time: 8 minutes
By: Terri Embry, RN, BSBA, Customer Success, CitusHealth
Workflow challenges can quickly put your business revenue at risk and create a burdensome administrative workload for your staff. Here are five common communication and documentation challenges—and how technology can help you overcome them and lighten the load for everyone from sales to cash collections.
Unsecure channels of communication
When methods of communicating are unsecure, such as SMS texts, personal health information could be shared, which can have consequences on your finances and reputation. Important content in the unsecure methods of communication is often left out of the patient record, making it more challenging to keep everyone apprised of current events. This can add strain to on-call staff, billing, compliance, and IT.
How technology can help
All patient-related communication happens within the platform or securely via an app or app-less (does not require an app to be downloaded) link—helping to support compliance and streamlining care collaboration. Communication can be structured, with conditional logic, or unstructured, with conversational chats.
Structured communication using a form can include an image or file upload option allowing a secure method of sending images. The images captured in the app are not saved on the device itself, keeping the image secure during the storage and sending of the file. A picture can help support the right action for order changes and authorization support.
Any staff member with privileges can access a patient’s Patient Activity Hub, where all chats, forms, and document activity on or with the patient, their caregivers, or alternate contacts can be viewed.
Integration options for all types of communication can help ensure teams not using the technology still have access to the information they need. This allows all relevant parties, including on-call and vacation coverage, to have the most up-to-date information for the best decision-making for patients.
When there are too many communication channels, everyone involved in the care journey loses valuable time toggling between many different platforms, causing frustration and overwhelming staff and those they serve. Information gaps can cause delays in start of care or adjustments to the care plan, both affecting patient outcomes.
How technology can help
With a complete end-to-end solution, everything is in one place for the entire care team. From documentation and chats to automated workflows and scheduling, having one solution for every facet of care streamlines the process for everyone involved and reduces the number of systems your teams must learn and incorporate into their daily routines. Having an end-to-end solution that works for all departments, partners, and patients allows efficiencies that can truly transform your organization’s work culture. The history of each communication, whether in a form, a signed document, or chat thread, is available to the care, support, and billing teams.
Selecting technology built for integration into EHRs can be done using several methods, including the healthcare standard known as Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and will provide the best opportunity to maintain a single source of truth. The FHIR standard defines how healthcare information can be exchanged between different computer systems regardless of the system’s method of storing data. When older EHR technology is being used, a CitusHealth Integration Engine (CHIE) can exchange the information. Other systems, such as Salesforce, can also use CHIE to integrate. All this combined removes the burden of fragmented care.
Training and education
When managing the training and education of patients and staff, manual processes can be time consuming and can quickly become outdated. Staff often must take physical training materials into the home, which can easily get lost, not include everything the patient needs, or be forgotten after the visit. This can lead to after-hour calls and even readmissions if the patient does not recall what they were instructed to do. Additionally, clinicians and patients have been known to search YouTube for “how to” content and directions, which can lead to inconsistencies in your patient’s experience and gaps in care compliance.
Maintaining and distributing the most up-to-date resources is time consuming and has its own challenges.
How technology can help
Instead of providing paper education, staff can now share on-demand training and education with their patients, caregivers, and alternate contacts from anywhere—empowering patients and families with knowledge about their care journey. Similarly, staff have on-demand access to training and education, making it easy to answer questions on the go. When you use technology that allows video links, website links, and/or guidance that is easy to find, outcomes can be improved.
When automated sharing of the right content is added based on a user profile, you get consistent and up-to-date access to the most appropriate materials for the best outcomes. Materials can be updated with a click, allowing all those with access to that material to instantly have access to the updated resource. Every patient can automatically get a welcome packet and then have the rest of their resources tailored to their diagnosis, therapy, or other needs. Using this streamlined approach provides an easy show and tell for accreditation auditors on both the process and content that supports your policy and procedures.
Obtaining signatures on paper
Chasing physician signatures on paper commonly leads to days of phone tag or even sending a staff member to physically drive to a physician’s office, taking them away from their primary job duties. This takes away valuable time from staff who are already burdened with administrative workloads. The back and forth between care provider organizations and physician practices can have a negative impact on the relationship. In the meantime, care is either delayed or potentially provided without the appropriate orders in the medical record. This becomes a compliance and financial burden that is avoidable.
Patient signatures, or their designee, are usually obtained on paper, requiring the person obtaining the signature to somehow get it back into the office. Once in the office, that paper sits waiting for its turn to be scanned and electronically filed into the medical record. While it sits there waiting, other clinicians caring for the patient can’t see it and billers are waiting to release claims that require a signature on file.
How technology can help
With app-less or in-app electronic signature capture, time and relationships with physicians can be saved. For patient signatures, time can be saved on obtaining consent signatures, sharing financial responsibility, NOMNC, DENC, and more.
When you choose a technology that has workflows for both types of recipients and offers the capability to send files to the recipient to sign, capture in-person signatures, and even take a secure picture of a signed paper file and immediately and securely send into the office, notify the right staff it is available, plus integrate into the EHR—it is transformational. Clinicians assigned to the patient can access the signed documents on their smart device with secure log-ins. Compliance and billing teams can easily find what they’re looking for to support their areas of responsibility.
Automating reminders to sign something can increase the success of getting signatures timely or at all. Having an audit trail for sending and reminding the recipient can add value to your compliance programs. When the requirement is to attempt to collect a signature three times, before you can say every attempt has been made, technology can automate that process and provide proof of the attempts.
Manual care plan updates
Keeping a patient or their family members apprised of the plan of care along with any changes can be difficult. Snail mail for updates to the care plan creates lack of proof that it was communicated to the patient and their support system, and valuable time is spent documenting these manually sent care plans.
It is even challenging for different internal teams to have visibility into the schedule for a plan of care and often requires emails, text, and phone calls. Each team member’s task is dependent on being aware of key milestones and visit plans, but often delay action while waiting to obtain the information they need.
How technology can help
Documentation like care plans that need to be sent to patients can be sent electronically within the platform, automatically tracking and recording that it was sent and received—eliminating the need for dual entry. They can be sent to just the patient and their alternative contacts, or any combination.
For clinician visits and plan of care delivery, giving patients and their alternate contacts access to a plan of care calendar in real time can be most impactful to your patient communication model. Imagine automating the sharing of the schedule plan, having built-in reminders, and even a way to capture and document when a patient declines a visit or delivery.
An easy, repeatable process that allows visibility to the right people or roles can be incorporated into the accreditation planning process, decreasing the burden of proof during a survey, payor, or government audits.
Are you ready to see the benefits of facing these common challenges? Schedule a CitusHealth demo today to learn how our unique approach to workflows can help you do more with less.