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shutterstock_317573672.jpegWho needs face time? The simple answer is patients do. These days, that's a difficult feat. The business side of healthcare intrudes and saps time. Nurses say they are often challenged with balancing increasing amounts of required documentation against valuable time with patients.  The problem is further exacerbated with high patient volumes and short staffing.  Something's gotta give.

When you evaluate the workflows surrounding the spectrum of patient care, there are pivotal points where repetitive administrative duties can be automated, relieving nurses and staff of mundane tasks. This is where technology shines. Smart technologies are flexible enough for customization and powerful enough to complete work quickly and cost effectively. They help facilities like Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) control costs by reducing additional staffing needs. Better yet, web-based patient-engagement solutions enable patients to take more control of their healthcare.

Perfect example: The pre-admission process is typically hindered by paperwork, phone calls, and communication challenges. Nurses spend hours each day placing four to five phone calls to each patient just to conduct a required health screening. Multiply that number of calls by hundreds of patients and you can see why nurses say they never get off the phone. That's a high labor-hour cost for administrative work.

If the facility uses an online pre-admission registration process, patients can enter all of their health history, allergies, and medications through a secure portal that delivers the information directly to the nurses in real time. The ASC has the flexibility of creating a health questionnaire that meets their exact needs. Patients gain the convenience of managing this process when and where they choose, which often leads to more thorough and accurate data input.

Nurses can focus on managing the information to properly plan for the patient's care instead of spending 20 minutes with each patient simply collecting information. That's a win/win for nurses and patients who have more face-to-face time, which is proven to result in better medical outcomes.

If the facility further promotes this pre-admission process with automated phone calls and text messages, it is not unusual for more than 70 percent of the patient populate to submit online screening questionnaires. That means that a facility can reallocate dozens of hours nurses would otherwise spend on the phone back into bedside care. 

By introducing patient-engagement solutions at other key intersections in the care cycle, clinicians and staff can gain even more direct contact with patients.

Like nurses, business office staff prefer to focus on the patient in front of them instead of the one on the phone, but they need to make hundreds of calls each week to discuss insurance and payments. By automating that process through an integrated web-based portal, staff can communicate specific details about the patient's financial responsibility with a few clicks. This gives patients more control of the process and often improves collections, which is key to the profitability of any outpatient facility. Patients can review payment options and set up a payment plan so that no money changes hands on the day of service, which makes for a more relaxed, personalized check-in process. 

Likewise, if the ASC is mailing patient satisfaction surveys, integrating an automated survey tool gets the job done quickly. Patients are afforded an opportunity to provide timely feedback, which is returned to the ASC in real time. The ASC can eliminate the headache of hand tallying responses or paying substantial printing and mailing costs.

The shared goal of the ASC and patient-engagement provider should be to improve medical care in the most cost-effective way possible. By replacing time-consuming, repetitive tasks with customized technologies, nurses, staff, and patients have more opportunities to work together toward optimal care and gain much-needed face time.

Simple Admit is the leading provider of patient-engagement solutions for medical facilities. We connect patients and clinicians through smart technology solutions that enhance efficiencies, communications, and medical care. Learn more.