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Posts Tagged ‘operational efficiency’

Collecting Patient-Reported Outcomes

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

More healthcare organizations are searching for ways to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. As the many in the industry are experimenting with value-based healthcare models, payers and providers need a way to measure the quality of care received to determine efficacy and provider reimbursement rates. Collecting patient-reported outcomes is one way to measure patients’ quality of care.

patient-repo

What is a Patient-Reported Outcome?

A patient-reported outcome (PRO) is any report of a patient’s health condition or status relating to symptoms, functionality, mental, social, and physical health from the patient’s perspective without an external interpretation by a healthcare professional.

Patient-reported health outcomes can relate to general health measures or the management of a chronic condition.

One possible application is following up with cancer patients after chemotherapy treatments. Within a few days of an infusion, a healthcare provider could send a survey to follow up on patient symptoms and responses to treatment. The patient (or caregiver) could complete the survey online. Then, the clinician can easily adjust their care plan depending on the responses. For example, suppose the chemotherapy triggers nausea, making it difficult for the patient to eat. In that case, the clinician could call in a prescription to help alleviate that symptom before the patient becomes dehydrated or malnourished and needs more intensive medical care.

Making it as easy as possible for patients to complete surveys is crucial to collecting patient-reported outcomes.

How to Measure Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires and surveys that capture information about a patient’s health status and treatment goals. The surveys measure health at a single time and over a long period.

Studies have shown that collecting PROMs can result in an increased overall survival rate, improved quality of life, decreased emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. Collecting PROMs is not challenging to do and improves clinical outcomes.

How to Obtain Patient-Reported Outcomes?

It’s essential to have clear goals and KPIs when setting out to measure patient outcomes. Identifying clear goals will help providers design surveys that deliver relevant data. Asking too many questions can create an avalanche of irrelevant information and are less likely to be completed by patients. Instead, it’s essential to design short surveys that are easy for the patient to understand. Surveys that are easy to answer will yield the highest number of responses.

In addition, the survey delivery method matters. Administration can happen in many ways: mail, web/email, telephone, or even onsite. Patients should be presented with surveys in the methods that match their pre-stated preferences.

Administering questionnaires through the mail can be costly. Putting together a mailing requires administrative resources to collect patient addresses, send the questionnaires, monitor responses, and follow up on undeliverable mail. Telephone surveys create a similar administrative burden. They require staff to gather and verify patient phone numbers, call to administer the surveys and follow up with dropped, lost, or missed calls. All survey information must then be entered into a patient’s health record and reviewed by their healthcare provider before changes to their treatment plan can occur. This delay may make the survey data irrelevant.

Web-based or email questionnaires are often a better alternative. Email automation can trigger surveys at certain recovery milestones to reduce administrative burdens. Digitizing survey forms makes reviewing and syncing data with electronic health records easier. This allows providers to adjust care plans in response to patient needs quickly.

Benefits of Patient-Reported Outcomes

The primary goal of collecting patient-reported outcomes is to improve the patient’s health. PROMs allow healthcare providers to follow up with patients to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency visits, and readmissions.

By collecting PROMs, hospitals can increase capacity and reduce costs. A KLAS research report found that digital health monitoring programs reduced the number of emergency department visits by 25%, with a 38% reduction in hospital admissions, corresponding to a 17% decrease in costs.

Using patient-reported outcome measures can help healthcare systems administrators reach the quadruple aim of improving patient experiences and population health, reducing costs, and improving the experience of healthcare workers. Please contact us to learn more about how LuxSci can help collect patient-reported outcomes with our Secure Forms and Secure High Volume Email solutions.

Streamline Operations by Transitioning to Digital Forms

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

Most healthcare organizations are pursuing digital transformation, but many providers are still reliant on paper forms that need to be printed out, scanned, filed, and securely stored. Shifting to a digital system can streamline operational processes and save time, money, and effort.

digital forms

Why Transition to Digital Forms

There are several reasons to switch to online forms. These include:

  • Having a single, verified source of patient information
  • Making workplace operations more efficient
  • Streamlining tasks such as appointment booking and generating referrals
  • Minimizing spam and other issues that come from using email
  • Enhancing data management processes
  • Cutting back on paper usage and reducing physical secure storage space

Paper forms are easily stolen, destroyed, misplaced, or damaged. A secured digital system saves time and strengthens the organization’s data security posture.

Improve the Patient Check-In Process

Almost every time a patient visits a doctor’s office, they must fill out paper forms. The time the patient spends filling out these forms could be better spent interacting with their health care provider. In addition, the front office staff must organize, file, and store these never-ending documents. Sometimes these forms are scanned and digitally filed.

Why not cut out the extra step and require patients to submit these forms digitally? Before the patient’s appointment, they could fill out and submit these forms in the patient portal. Providers could also use iPads or tablets to have patients digitally submit forms in the office.

This improves efficiency and data management processes while enabling staff to focus on what matters most- providing excellent medical care.

Integrate Digital Forms with Electronic Records

Another benefit of digitizing paper forms is that it is easier to integrate with existing electronic records systems. Using a digital form solution that connects to systems via APIs (like LuxSci’s Secure Form) allows organizations to upload their form data to a secure database. In addition, look for digital form solutions that can be configured to send or save form data wherever the organization designates. Flexibility helps preserve existing workflows and meet documentation requirements.

For example, an organization may utilize multiple online forms that require different storage workflows. Contact forms may be sent to an email inbox for follow-up by office staff, while patient forms should be sent to a secure database or added directly to a patient’s file. Using a flexible digital form streamlines processes for office staff.

LuxSci’s Secure Form lets organizations send data to email addresses, databases, file storage, SFTP, or any webhook-enabled place like Slack. No special software or web hosting changes are required to use it. The Secure Form service turns complex data collection into a simple process.

Ink Signatures

If the paper forms are legal documents, like medical information releases, they should have signature capabilities. Ink signatures enable form users to submit handwritten signatures with a web form. Ink signatures are more legally binding because they prove the user’s identity and intention.

Accordingly, LuxSci’s Secure Form has ink signature capabilities that do not require additional software to install. They are easy for users as well. All they have to do is draw their signatures in the box with their mouse, a stylus, or finger.

The signature is saved as an image file that can be easily stored and secured. See Web Form Signatures: Fast, Easy Method of Informed Consent for more information on ink signatures.

Conclusion

There is no reason to continue using paper forms in today’s digitally enabled world. Transitioning to digital forms improves operational efficiency and data management practices. Interested in getting started? LuxSci’s Secure Form offers the security and flexibility to manage patient-submitted data.

Using Secure Email APIs to Improve Operational Efficiency

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

APIs are just one tool that organizations can use to streamline operations and automate processes. This article explains how secure email APIs can save time in healthcare communications.

secure email api

What is an API?

API is an acronym that stands for “Application Programming Interface.” APIs enable companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments. They allow services and products to communicate and leverage each other’s data and functionality through a documented interface. APIs simplify app development by allowing applications to work together.

APIs help business and IT teams collaborate. One example is the Weather Underground API. If a smartwatch developer wanted to display the weather on the watch face, they could use the Weather Underground API to source current weather data and local forecasts. Application developers do not have to create an entirely new weather database and keep it updated. Instead, the API enables them to use the Weather Underground’s meteorological data in their application.

APIs enable information to flow both ways. The smartwatch can display Weather Underground forecasts, and the API can report data back to the Weather Underground. This functionality enables interoperability and data sharing.

Email APIs

An email API gives applications the ability to send emails and retrieve analytics. Email APIs are often used to send transactional emails from applications like CRMs, EHRs, and other databases. Trigger-based emails are ideal for sending with an email API. In this situation, emails are sent when pre-determined conditions are met. For example, an order confirmation is a transactional, trigger-based email. A person buys a product online, the transaction is processed, and an email is sent to the buyer with their transaction details. The email is sent automatically with an email API.

Benefits of Secure Email APIs

Imagine if it was an employee’s responsibility to create and send every order confirmation email. It would be completely overwhelming. Besides saving time, some of the main benefits of email APIs include:

      • Easy to use and implement
      • Cost savings
      • Email deliverability improvements
      • Email list management
      • Reporting and analytics functionality
      • Personalization and customization
      • Enterprise-grade security

How to Use Secure Email APIs to Improve Operational Efficiency

Healthcare organizations are under increasing pressure to improve the patient experience. Online shoppers expect to see those order confirmation emails within a few minutes of finalizing their orders. Healthcare consumers using online communication tools expect the same experience from their healthcare providers. By expediting and personalizing patient communications, APIs can help increase patient satisfaction.

Thanks to the introduction of electronic health records, healthcare organizations have access to more patient data than ever before. Developers can use secure email APIs to send timely, trigger-based emails from EHR platforms.

Some examples of the types of emails that healthcare providers can send using an email API include:

  • Welcome emails
  • Appointment reminders
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Flu shot and vaccine reminders
  • Password resets and other transactional emails

It works like this: the developer creates the email templates in advance and the criteria for email sending. The email is automatically sent when the conditions are met. For example, a developer may trigger a welcome email to send when:

1) a new patient is added to the database and

2) their first appointment date is set.

Email APIs can also pull information from the patient record to personalize the email. The welcome email may include the patient’s name and the date of their first appointment.

Other than updating the patient record, office administrators do not need to take additional actions to send the email. The email API automatically sends customized emails when appropriate.

Security and Privacy Considerations

Of course, developers working with patient data should not ignore HIPAA. It is essential to choose a vendor that understands the requirements. Failing to follow proper protocols can put patient data at risk and lead to data breaches.

For developers looking to create their own HIPAA-compliant APIs, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has put together a helpful guide. LuxSci also has API developer documentation to help integrate applications with our secure email API.

Conclusion

Email APIs are an essential part of digital health transformation and interoperability. Healthcare organizations should explore how APIs can improve their workflows and improve efficiency. LuxSci provides HIPAA-compliant and secure email APIs with Secure High Volume Email Sending. Contact us today to learn more.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Email Automation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you work in a busy healthcare practice, administrative tasks can create additional costs and barriers to care. Common communications like appointment reminders, billing statements, and other external messages take a lot of time to create and send. By automating these emails, it’s possible to increase operational efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

email automation

What is Email Automation?

Email automation allows organizations to automatically send emails based on pre-determined triggers or behaviors. Receipts, shipping notifications, password resets are all common types of automated transactional emails. The main message content is created in advance. Then, variables are used to insert custom information into the template automatically. Most importantly, the email is sent when a certain action is taken. Many people are familiar with automated emails in the form of receipts. For example, you make an online purchase and a receipt is automatically emailed to you with the exact details of your purchase. Next, we explore some examples for how email automation can increase operational efficiency in the healthcare system.

How Email Automation Works

There are many ways to utilize email automation to streamline patient communications. One example is appointment reminders. This is a good message to automate because:

  1. The message is generally the same for every recipient
  2. Variables can be used to customize the content: the patient’s name and the date/time of their appointment.
  3. There is a clear event to trigger the email (the date of the upcoming appointment).

Let’s look at an example of an appointment reminder email:

An administrator creates a template with the message content and layout. It may read something like: “Hi [patient name], This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on [X date] at [X time]. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Next, connect the email program to a patient database, like an EHR or CRM. If properly integrated, it is possible to pull in the correct information to replace the variables (in brackets above) for the email recipient. For example, the if the email was sent to a patient named Jane Doe, the email program would pull in the correct details from her record to read: “Hi Jane Doe, This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on May 2, 2022 at 1pm. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Finally, set up a trigger point to instruct the email program under what conditions to send the email. For an appointment reminder, the administrator may choose to send the email one week before the appointment, so the recipient has ample time to respond.

Once the template, variables, and trigger are set up, ongoing attention from office staff is not required. Each day appointment reminder emails will be sent out when the conditions of the trigger are met.

The Benefits of Email Automation

By automating common administrative email communications, it frees up staff time to focus on patients. Many healthcare providers still have staff members call patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. By automating this task, it streamlines operations and frees up staff time to focus on other tasks more directly tied to improving patient health outcomes. Using email (and/or text message) reminders can also help decrease no-show rates and reduce the costs of rescheduling.

Email automation is just one tool that can help streamline administrative workflows, provide cost savings, and improve the health outcomes of patients.

Don’t Forget HIPAA

Automated emails like appointment reminders, billing messages, and test results all contain ePHI and must be protected under HIPAA guidelines. Review our HIPAA guidelines for email and take steps to secure systems before starting to automate and send transactional emails containing ePHI.

Get Started with Email Automation

To get started, there are a few internal questions that need to be answered.

First, identify the data source- do you have a database or EHR that contains the information needed to trigger and personalize email messages? Next, how will these emails be sent? Do you have an email marketing platform with automation capabilities? Finally, how will these messages be secured?

Once these questions are answered, LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service can help securely scale your operations. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about automating email workflows for your healthcare practice.