Healthcare systems have been in crisis mode for most of 2020, impacted by the pandemic and decidedly distracted with challenges related to PPE, supply chain issues, and staffing. While many struggled managing the impact, other organizations thrived. How were they able to do that?
COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of many, but none more so than the healthcare workers on the front lines providing patient care to those battling the virus. The Coronavirus Pandemic remains an incredibly fluid and demanding situation with ever-changing guidelines and increased safety measures. Healthcare workers have their hands full with the virus and its unpredictable effect on each patient. Add in abrupt changes in procedures, staffing scarcity, and supply deficiencies, and it becomes an exhausting environment for all involved.
With an enormous risk of exposure to COVID-19, healthcare workers are pivotal to our fight against this virus. Each day they face the risk and work under tremendous amounts of pressure, in understaffed conditions, while working around the clock to provide the specialized care needed for these very sick patients. In addition, they are often required to take on the role of both caregiver and family surrogate, since loved ones can’t be there for support.
While some hospitals prepare for a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, others have not yet reached the peak of the curve. In either case, hospitals are reopening non-essential services as states start various stages of reopening America. With an ongoing pandemic, what are the considerations? Will patients feel safe enough to show up for their care? Many people continue to be reluctant to return. Undoubtedly, it will take more than reassuring messages about safety and process, especially with contradictory information from friends or family on social media. In most cases, until an organization has demonstrated safety measures, the patient volumes will remain decreased. What can hospitals, surgery centers, and other medical facilities do to mitigate patient fears?
The extensive suspension of elective surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly resulted in a significant economic hit to the orthopedic segment of the healthcare industry. There is no question the onslaught of the backlog will be stressful. But where do organizations even begin?
As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) rages on and lives are forever changed, our hearts go out to all of those on the front lines showing the entire world what modern-day heroes look like. As technology partners to healthcare organizations and caregivers, we are focused not only on keeping our employees and community as safe as possible, but are dedicated to actively examining current health and safety processes for healthcare organizations. Since social distancing is often not an option for caregivers, we must provide every opportunity and resource available to those working in healthcare organizations, and standardize these best practices.
So what does reducing waste in healthcare mean? Healthcare waste is defined as time, dollars, and services that do not add value - and can sometimes harm the patient. What it means is achieving the nirvana of triple aim – better care, better health, and lower cost.
Despite efforts to control healthcare spending in the United States, costs continue to soar. To combat healthcare costs on the rise, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed a Leadership Alliance Waste workgroup. This group is made up of 54 healthcare organizations working together to develop a strategy to reduce waste in healthcare by 50% over the next five years.1 In this blog, we are taking a look at some of their most successful concepts and aligning them with innovative, executable strategies.
What do you do when the standard approach to readmission reductions isn’t moving the dial on penalties? Your organization has implemented post-discharge calls and a data warehouse, yet you’re still looking at a 20% readmission rate. Perhaps it is time to consider a fresh and innovative look at how to positively impact readmission scores. A proven best practice for doing this is by examining complex clinical pathways, such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
Patients staying in long-term care facilities are of the most vulnerable population. Many residents are suffering from chronic illnesses, or have become patients following acute hospitalizations. In addition, long-term care (LTC) facilities often include a large geriatric population. Whatever category they fall under, many of these patients require skilled nursing. It is no wonder then that CMS has taken a hard stance to improve safety, quality care, and experience for these patients. Effective November 28, 2019, a 2016 Final Rule from CMS mandates all LTC facilities operate a compliance and ethics program, including eight major components that cover new regulatory requirements.
Those involved in healthcare today are well aware the industry has shifted from volume-based to consumer-driven, value-based care, with a significant focus on patient experience and quality outcomes that tie back to insurance reimbursements. Because of the shift, the majority of hospitals have implemented quality-focused programs, and use mobile technology that provides real-time visibility for crucial patient data for making evidence-based decisions. The reality is that mobile technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it is the new normal for patient care.
It is hard to believe 2019 is over. The year rocketed by as we watched healthcare disruption manifest in numerous ways. We saw large-scale changes, such as CVS and Aetna team up, Uber expand their ridesharing in the healthcare industry, and Amazon join forces with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to slash healthcare prices for their 1.1 million employees. We also saw changes on a smaller scale that packed a punch. Take patient experience HCAHPS surveys for an example. Most know the impact of these surveys can be the difference between a financial loss or gain. Therefore, when Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) removed pain management questions from the HCHAPS survey in 2019, the industry took notice.
Providing a good patient experience as part of quality care is not new, and has always been important. The implementation of the HCAHPS survey only increased the importance and made it top-of-mind for healthcare leaders. CMS and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) collaborated to develop the HCAHPS survey, implementing it in 2006. It was the first national survey to provide public data related to the patient’s perspective of care while in the hospital. Sharing the data publically incentivizes hospitals to improve quality to compete with other hospitals, and provides consumers with side-by-side quality ratings to consider when choosing their provider. The standardized questions on the survey became an integral piece of the quality puzzle, with measures directly tied to Medicare reimbursements and heavy financial penalties for sub-par quality.
For anyone who attended the FONE 2019 Educational Conference on November 7 and 8, it was evident the focus was promoting healthy work environments using evidence-based practices. Even though the conference was just a month ago, it seems like light years during this busy holiday season. Today we will recap what the leaders spoke about, and leave you with a few things to consider that will elevate your staff engagement in 2020!
Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs) and infections are illnesses or complications that were not present when the patient was admitted to the hospital, but developed as a result of errors or accidents in the hospital.(1) In an effort to improve patient safety and quality within hospitals, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed the HAC Reduction Program in 2015. Since the program was introduced, studies show that hospitals have made considerable progress in reducing HACs.(2) However, there is plenty of room for improvements with some common and troublesome HACs.
There is a lot of focus on patient satisfaction and experience in healthcare, and for good reason. Patient Experience is a key contributor to overall hospital quality measures and insurance reimbursements. In addition, patient satisfaction and experience have been linked time and again to improved patient outcomes. Although we sometimes view satisfaction and experience as the same thing, they are different. Both satisfaction and experience are equally important and require ongoing communication passed between caregivers, as well as from caregivers to patient. A famous physician from Canada, Sir William Osler, once said: “A good physician treats the disease and a great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”(1) The same applies to patient satisfaction and experience. Focusing on creating a satisfied patient who has a positive experience is the key for driving hospital quality and patient loyalty.
A large number of leaders in healthcare agree that staff engagement within a hospital is an essential component for delivering quality patient care, with an empathetic experience, that will result in the best clinical outcomes. Since most of the insurance reimbursements are tied to quality measures, staff engagement has become progressively more essential to healthcare organizations’ bottom line. Amid the competitive landscape and caregiver shortages, organizations are faced with the challenge of vying for the most qualified candidates.
Healthcare organizations have recognized that to keep pace with industry growth, regulatory requirements, and increased responsibilities, caregivers require the aid of innovation. In the past, physicians and nurses had paper charts and labor-intensive processes. Manual processes took away precious time needed for patient care. Fortunately, caregivers today have the opportunity to tap into the entire patient history while in the room with the patient. This is a huge improvement from even five years ago. Many industry thought leaders have been paving the way, replacing paper processes and antiquated technologies with robust, mobile solutions that enable caregivers to improve patient care on-the-spot. Whether it be behind the scenes helping the operations, or front and center in the patient room, technology is changing the game.
At the core of its mission, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) strive to achieve the highest level of quality care for patients, thereby reducing waste and cutting related costs for hospitals. Regardless of the approach, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states an essential component for ensuring the best results is to embrace strategies that will support quality across the entire patient journey of care. More specifically, improving communication and collaboration between points of treatment can remove roadblocks that prevent top-quality care. The three biggest areas of concern for breakdowns in care happen to patients with chronic conditions, patients admitted to the Emergency Department, and patients transitioned to Long Term Care. We have some insights on the strategies used by thriving ACOs that help resolve care coordination issues.
As part of their continuous efforts for healthcare facilities to achieve zero harm, the Joint Commission conducts an on-site accreditation survey at least every 39 months. The survey’s purpose is to evaluate and measure organizational compliance with standards of patient safety and quality of care. Because deficiencies found by surveyors are placed on a performance improvement plan, the best strategy is to be proactive and reduce the number of infractions occurring by being well prepared. A common approach endorsed by the Joint Commission is for organizations to conduct ongoing mock surveys.
We all know, providing a safe environment for patients to recover is a fundamental part of offering quality patient care that fosters the best possible outcomes. With healthcare demands as they are, it can be challenging for organizations to balance complying with regulatory requirements while creating the safest place for patients to heal. Lean staffing ratios combined with regulatory, operational and administrative burdens can lead to increased safety issues.
With policy and payment reform tied to quality care and clinical outcomes, hospitals need first-rate physicians that will help to drive changes and process improvements. Once these physicians are on board, the onus is on the hospitals to do their best to engage and retain them. One sure-fire way to do that is by providing physicians with all the tools they need to perform to the best of their ability, in the least amount of time.
Despite ongoing government initiatives for policy and regulation, the healthcare industry continues to grow exponentially. Hospitals must be nimble, flexible, and run a tight ship to remain financially solvent. Growth and staffing shortages, combined with what has become a consumer-driven industry, means that healthcare executives are competing for staff, resources, and patients at the same time they are striving to provide quality patient care and work within a smaller budget. In this environment, healthcare organizations must look at their most significant concerns and areas with the most opportunity for improvement in the shortest amount of time.
Hospitals want to provide a great patient experience, but at times it can be a challenge. The hot topics and emerging trends covered at this year’s Patient Experience Symposium appropriately pointed out that Patient Experience is more than one single thing done by a single person. Instead, Patient Experience must be a mission, one that is owned by every team member within the organization. Clarifire was there to discuss the issues and collaborate with providers on how to improve the patient experience. In case you couldn’t be there, here’s our key takeaways from the conference.
Salary.com conducted a recent survey, compiling a list of the top 10 most stressful jobs. Nursing ranked #6. Surprising to some, but not to those that have made it a career to care for others. Nurses are the glue that holds everything together. Doctors rely on them to carry out orders and provide updates on patient status. Patients need them to provide the care necessary to make them healthy. Nurses go the extra mile to accommodate both groups and never say “that’s not my job”.
In a recent blog, we highlighted an American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) survey addressing the top issues confronting hospitals today. It was no surprise that financial concerns topped the list based on the CEOs surveyed. Numerous factors can have a direct impact on finances and the overall sustainability of hospital operations. One of those factors, government mandates, found itself second in the list of top issues confronting hospitals. Keeping on top of all the changes and managing their impact on the bottom line can sometimes be easier said than done.
In 2014, The Beryl Institute introduced ‘Patient Experience Week’ as a time to recognize healthcare staff that have an impact on patient’s experiences each day. As the industry has moved from volume based to value-based care, consumerism has made patient experience even more critical to organizations. Proving to be an important factor for improving patient safety and clinical outcomes while at the same time eliciting the highest reimbursements possible, Patient Experience is top of mind for most healthcare organization leaders.
In today’s healthcare industry, hospital CEOs face numerous challenges that can disrupt the balance between providing patients with exceptional quality of care and maintaining financial solvency for the organization. In a recent survey by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), they presented the top challenges cited by community hospital CEOs. For the tenth consecutive year, financial concerns was number one on the list. While hospital operating expenses increase, reimbursements and volume of patients continue to decrease. Managing and overcoming financial concerns while providing communities with the services they want and quality they need proves to be the most challenging for CEOs.
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