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Posts Tagged ‘ePHI’

Using Technology to Address Clinician Burnout

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges with clinician burnout were impacting the healthcare system. A 2019 British Medical Association (BMA) survey found 80% of doctors were at high or very high risk of burnout.

Enter the pandemic: staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and new regulations all contributed to an increase in clinician burnout over the last two years. This is a major issue- burned out clinicians make more mistakes and have less satisfied patients. In this article, we discuss ways to use technology to address burnout and improve workflows.

clinician burnout

Causes of Clinician Burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated just how fragile the healthcare workforce is. As COVID-19 swept across the country, front-line workers were under immense pressure to serve their patients in extremely stressful circumstances. In the early days of the pandemic, the lack of personal protective equipment required clinicians to put their lives on the line to care for patients. In addition, quarantines for COVID-19 exposure and family caretaking responsibilities drastically impacted staffing and patient-to-nurse levels. Healthcare workers often had no choice but to take on more shifts during highly stressful time periods to help patients get the care they deserve.

Even though the pandemic is winding down, clinicians are still experiencing the effects of burnout. Healthcare workers are leaving their jobs at high rates and in some cases leaving the field altogether. Workforce shortages, increasing stress, and clinical documentation requirements leave healthcare professionals increasingly burned out.

Ways to Alleviate Clinician Burnout with Digital Technology

Not only is burnout bad for health care providers, but it can also lead to mistakes and poor patient experiences. New technology can help alleviate burnout, but it is important to find a balance. Introducing new technologies without proper training or administration can increase stress and make things worse. EHRs are an example of a type of technology that is often a major cause of burnout. It is important to be thoughtful with any technology implementation.

Below, we discuss some ways to use technology to streamline and accelerate clinician workflows.

Reduce Administrative Burdens

New technology can help streamline administrative workflows. Let’s use an annual doctor’s appointment as an example. Upon arrival to an appointment, a patient fills out a paper form with their health conditions, medications, family history, and other information. It is collected by the front desk and the patient heads into the appointment, where they are often asked the same series of questions by the clinician, who hastily types the answers into the patient’s health record.

There is a better way to collect this information. By digitizing the patient intake form, the patient’s answers are automatically added to their health record, reducing administrative time. The clinician can spend more time providing health care, rather than filling out paperwork. Updating patient health records is one of the most time-consuming tasks that leads to burnout. By digitizing some of this paperwork, it reduces the administrative burden on clinicians.

Patient Education

Patient education is extremely important in a world of medical misinformation. However, it can also be a time-consuming process for front-line staff. Digitizing patient resources in the form of articles, videos, and PDFs is a convenient way to answer frequently asked questions.

Let’s use an example of a patient with a broken arm. They get a cast at the office and the doctor explains how to take care of it. However, when they get home and go to sleep, they wake up with an extremely itchy arm. They might be concerned and reach out to their healthcare provider. Instead interrupting the clinician’s day with a phone call, the administrative staff can email pre-produced videos or articles explaining how to treat the itching and what they should do if it becomes more severe.

By creating these materials in advance, it is easy for clinicians to rapidly answer questions. In addition, patients can have their issues addressed quickly and will have a better experience. They also may be less likely to turn to social media to crowdsource at-home remedies.

Patient Communication

On that note, anyone who has tried to get in touch with their doctor by making a phone call knows how time-consuming and tedious it can be. Instead, encourage asynchronous messaging for non-urgent medical issues. Asynchronous messaging, like secure email and texting, is not immediate and clinicians can respond to whenever is convenient. It is useful when requesting referrals and prescription refills.

Using a patient portal allows both doctors and administrators from the office to address the patient’s needs and distribute workflows in a way that makes sense. Although a patient may seek out a doctor, their issues may be more properly handled by a nurse or administrative staff.

Conclusion

Clinician burnout is a major issue impacting health systems and patient health outcomes. Tackling this challenge is a difficult task, but organizations should look into ways to use technology to improve and automate workflows.

Addressing Health Equity with Digital Communications

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

According to a HIMSS Market Insights study, nine out of ten healthcare executives see health equity as a top business priority. Improving health equity can drive value for other business metrics including patient satisfaction, provider retention, health outcomes, and cost reduction. Using personalized, scalable digital communications can be an effective way to address health equity issues.

health equity

 

What is Health Equity?

According to the CDC, health equity is “achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”

Under President Biden, the Department of Health and Human Services has prioritized health equity in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 highlighted the racial, economic, and social disparities of the healthcare system. COVID-19 killed Black, Latino, and Indigenous people at double the rate of White people. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders remain three times as likely to contract the illness compared to White people. Addressing the social, cultural, racial, and economic factors that contribute to this disparity is essential to improving individual and population health.

Improve Health Equity with Digital Messaging

Digital messaging is just one tool that can be used to improve health equity. Today’s technologies make it easier to communicate with patients at scale. Email and text messaging are two scalable and cost-effective options for engaging with patients. To address health equity issues with email and text messaging, it is essential to utilize segmentation and personalization techniques.

Segmentation and Personalization

Thanks to the widespread use of EHR systems, healthcare marketers can access a wide variety of patient data. These health records not only contain information about health conditions, but also information about demographic and racial categories.

Marketers can create segments of patients that share common characteristics and develop messaging that speaks to their needs. Redpoint Global found that personalized messages had a response rate that was 7x that of generic messages. By personalizing digital communications, it is possible to reach more patients and improve health outcomes.

An Example of Personalization and Segmentation

Let’s use the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as an example. The vaccines were available for certain age groups first, with some exceptions for those with pre-existing conditions or job roles. Using demographic data from the patient database, marketers sent targeted campaigns to segments of patients when they were eligible for a vaccine appointment. These highly relevant emails were very effective at encouraging sign ups.

Age is one way to segment the audience, but let’s take it another step further to address health equity. In addition to age information, a health record also contains information like the patient’s native language and communication preferences. By further segmenting the patient population using these factors and personalizing the message content, it can increase response rates and close care gaps. For example, sending a Spanish version of the vaccine sign-up communication to Spanish-speaking patient populations increases the likelihood that those patients will understand and act on the message. Another example is sending a text message instead of an email to households that lack broadband access. This ensures that everyone receives the message, regardless of income level or geography.

For more information, learn how this Colorado health care provider used personalized text messaging in their COVID vaccine rollout. They reached nearly 80% of their patient population with targeted outreach and community support.

Conclusion

Digital communications like email and texting can be highly effective ways to reach marginalized patient populations. However, do not forget about HIPAA compliance! Communications personalized and segmented using ePHI need to be secured.

LuxSci offers secure email services and texting designed to meet HIPAA requirements. If you would like to learn more about how to address health equity with secure communications, please contact us today.

Engage Patients with Educational Messaging

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Educating patients about their upcoming medical procedures is an important part of building trust and increasing retention. Using digital technologies to educate patients is just one way to reinforce messaging and improve patient compliance. This article provides some examples of how to digitally engage with patients both before and after undergoing a medical procedure.

patient education

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Does TLS Email Encryption Meet Compliance Requirements?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

In this article, we discuss what types of email encryption are sufficient to comply with government regulations. TLS encryption is a good option for many organizations dealing with sensitive data and legal requirements. However, TLS does not protect data at rest. Each organization must undertake their own risk assessment to determine which encryption methods are suitable to fulfill legal requirements.

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How to Engage Patients with Email Marketing

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with patients. However, health care providers have long avoided it because of HIPAA concerns. In this article, we will provide a few examples of how to use email marketing to engage patients and increase ROI.

engage patients

Don’t Forget About HIPAA!

A quick reminder- the following use cases assume that an organization is utilizing a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform. Most major email marketing platforms (like Mailchimp and Constant Contact) cannot encrypt outgoing emails and are not HIPAA-compliant. Do not upload ePHI to a marketing platform without first signing a Business Associate Agreement and thoroughly vetting the vendor. Just because a vendor will sign a BAA, it does not mean including sensitive data in emails is permitted. Choosing a platform designed for HIPAA compliance (like LuxSci’s Secure Marketing) is highly recommended to help reduce risks.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into some examples of how ePHI can be utilized in email marketing campaigns to improve patient engagement.

Provider and Network Changes

Changing a healthcare provider can be a tedious task. Instead of relying on staff to call and mail notices to affected patients, use email marketing to engage patients. Suppose Dr. Smith is retiring, and a practice needs to inform his patients of the upcoming change. Using email is a highly effective way to do so. First, create a segment of Dr. Smith’s patients and send an email to them with directions on how to choose a new provider. Marketers could further segment this list by using the patient’s insurance and offering  suggestions of new providers who are in-network and are accepting new patients. By making it as easy as possible for Dr. Smith’s patients to continue care, it increases retention and keeps patients satisfied.

In a similar vein, when a new provider joins the practice, an organization can email all their current patients who are without a provider to encourage them to come in and seek care.

Events Marketing

Almost every health care system offers events that are specifically targeted to different patient populations. Some examples include parenting classes for new moms, nutrition classes for diabetics, and cancer support groups. When using a HIPAA-compliant email marketing program, an organization can use health care data to target these patient populations with personalized marketing messages to increase enrollment and engagement.

For example, let’s imagine that a healthcare organization is running a series of classes for new moms. To promote the classes, the marketing team can get a list of currently pregnant patients and send them emails about the upcoming series. Since these emails are highly relevant to this specific user group, it’s likely the campaign will perform well and increase enrollment. If this email was sent to the entire company email list, it may annoy patients who do not fall into this category, and many would unsubscribe. By only sending emails to relevant groups, it keeps patients interested rather than irritated by marketing messages.

Address Care Gaps

HIPAA-compliant email marketing can also be used to encourage vulnerable populations to seek follow up care. One campaign type  is screening reminders. Many screenings are recommended when certain age and demographic criteria are met. For example, mammograms are recommended when women reach their 40s. An organization could use email marketing to target patients who meet the demographic criteria with information about how to schedule their screening. It’s also possible to exclude women who have already had their mammogram. These highly targeted mailings can automate processes and improve patient health outcomes.

In addition, organizations can create campaigns in different languages to expand outreach efforts to marginalized patient populations. The possibilities for personalization are endless. Sending highly relevant and personalized email campaigns is a surefire way to engage patients.

Conduct Surveys and Gather Feedback

Using a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform makes it easy to test messaging to increase response rates. Improving patient satisfaction is important to improve reimbursement rates from insurance companies and the federal government. Understanding areas to improve can help organizations deliver a better patient experience and increase profit.

Conclusion: Engage Patients with Email Marketing

These are just a few ways that health care systems can increase patient engagement with HIPAA-compliant email marketing. Healthcare organizations have access to troves of data that can be used to create highly relevant marketing campaigns. However, it’s extremely important to keep sensitive data protected. To successfully and securely engage patients without running afoul of HIPAA regulations, use a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform.