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WW1 Christmas Truce: Letters from the Trenches – Extra History – #2

Source: www.youtube.com – Sunday, December 24, 2017

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McCaskill seeks answers from Anthem over its ED policy

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is giving insurance giant Anthem roughly 30 days to explain why the company has decided to stop paying for ED visits it deems unnecessary in several states.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

When it comes to ease-of-use and convenience, most medical practices are not currently delivering the comfort and access that their patients desire. According to a report, nearly 81 percent of patients want to be able to book their doctors’ appointments online, and almost 40 percent of patients would switch providers in order to get online access. However, Accenture has revealed that only 40 percent of the top 100 healthcare facilities in the country offer online appointment scheduling.

The biggest, and the most tedious, part of running a medical practice is scheduling appointments. Traditional or manual systems require a lot of back and forth with patients, which may lead to errors. These mistakes can adversely affect your relationship with patients and harm your practice reputation.

The technology available today, however, gives medical practice owners an opportunity to automate appointment scheduling. Online appointment scheduling tools offer a professional way to handle patient appointments and provide efficient solutions that allow practice owners to manage communications.

Online appointment scheduling helps further your practice’s mission of putting your patients at the center stage and, in the process, improves your reputation and bottom line. This service reduces time-consuming phone calls and improves access to healthcare so that patients can schedule appointments with your doctors anytime, even when your office is closed. It also enables patients to stay on top of preventive care needs, helping control their upcoming appointments and tracking tests and checkups.

How Significant Is Online Appointment Scheduling?

Online appointment scheduling is gaining momentum quickly. According to a study from Accenture, by the end of 2019, nearly 66 percent of healthcare facilities in the U.S. will offer online appointment scheduling, and more than 64 percent of patients will book online appointments using different tools. Nearly 38 percent of appointments are likely to be scheduled online, creating more than $ 3.2 billion in value.

In addition to offering ease-of-use, online appointment scheduling can give you access to patients who have a tough time booking an appointment during their work hours. According to recent research, nearly 45 percent of appointments booked through online system are booked outside of work hours, and most patients visit their healthcare provider within 24 hours of requesting an appointment.

Though any medical practice is highly unlikely to see a 45 percent increase in patient visits just by using one of these scheduling tools, these tools can make it easier for your patients who are busy during the day to schedule an appointment. A lot of these patients desire the convenience of online scheduling and will choose a healthcare provider who offers this service.

Online appointment scheduling tools can also save your employees a lot of time, which will allow them to focus more on patients who are currently in the office so that patients can have the best possible experience. This is a much better use of your team’s time than making or receiving phone calls, attending to voicemails and handling follow-up calls.

How Do Online Appointment Scheduling Tools Work?

In order to enable patients to book appointments directly from your practice website or social media page, the online appointment scheduling system will provide you with a URL that you can link to your website. This URL will be specific to your practice, so when patients visit it, they will be able to book appointments directly. You will not need to design a separate website or create any of the scheduling features – the hosting company will provide you with your own profile that you will need to maintain. However, you will be expected to ensure that the vital information, such as address, phone numbers, business hours, list of services, insurance providers, etc. is up-to-date.

Usually, the online appointment scheduling system interlocks with your practice management system and displays the available timeslot for each doctor. This feature maximizes the possibility that the appointment time requested by the patient is available. This feature is critical because, if the requested timeslot is already taken, your staff will have to request the patient to discuss other slots that might work for them, which negates the convenience of online scheduling.

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

It is also essential to understand that a lot of online appointment scheduling systems that claim to harmonize with your practice management software are only able to read your schedule, not write to it. In this case, after you confirm an appointment through the scheduling system, you will have to manually enter the appointment into your practice management system. Preferably, the system you choose should be able to automatically enter appointment details into your practice management system.

If the online scheduling system does not sync with your practice management system at all, your patients will have to email you to request appointments, and they will not have any visibility of the available or booked timeslots. This would require you to reach out to individual patients to discuss alternative timeslots if the timeslot requested by them is unavailable. Once you agree on a time, you will have to manually enter the appointment in your practice management system.

Why Should You Use an Online Appointment Scheduling System?

A growing number of medical practices are going online with appointment scheduling systems. There is a greater need to understand why such systems do not just streamline appointments, but also benefit the practice, staff and patients. Appointment bookings, cancellations, follow-ups, reminders and other functionalities can now be handled online with efficiency and without all the chaos that is associated with manual appointment scheduling systems.

However, transitioning to an online system, or even changing providers, is a daunting process. We will try to make this process easy and pain-free by putting together the top 10 reasons why you should be using an online appointment scheduling system:

1. Empowered Patients

One of the biggest reasons an online appointment scheduling system is gaining popularity is that it enables patients to make the appointment to see their healthcare provider. These systems make it easy for patients to go to their computer screens, access the healthcare provider’s website and make an appointment. In addition, patients can play a bigger role in making healthcare-related decisions. They can make an appointment to a provider other than theirs, in a matter of minutes, from the comfort of their home.

2. Better Physician-Patient Interaction

The provider can interact with patients without the need to call them, saving a lot of precious time. Scheduling an appointment online is an effective and a less costly way for doctors to communicate with their patients. The time previously spent doing office tasks can now be shifted to allow for more quality time with your patients. Your patients will value the extra attention and become repeat customers based on the level of personalized care you provide.

3. Enhanced Service Quality

A lot of times errors are made by the staff or patients while exchanging critical information. This may cause problems for both the patient and the provider when the patient arrives. Through online appointment scheduling, there can be no such thing as mistakes. Online booking systems take into consideration the workflows of patient communication. Most systems include features such as automated appointment confirmations, automated appointment reminders and thank-you emails. Appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows and allow time for rescheduling, so your staff can keep your schedule booked. Your pricing and cancellation policy can be easily communicated through these emails, reducing awkward conversations. Through automated emails, your patients will be well-informed about the details of their next appointment with you.

4. Reduced Employee Cost

Making appointments via phone calls requires a lot of attention and resources. Your patients may have to make a number of calls, go through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR), the receptionist has to fill in a number of forms and do a zillion more activities that have not much significance. Also, the practice owner has to spend a significant amount of money on the appointments. This expenditure can easily be reduced by using online appointment scheduling. These systems rarely need any effort from your staff, as most of the information is filled by the patient. According to a study, medical practitioners can save more than one full-time equivalent, which is factored at 160 hours per month.

5. Filled Empty Slots

Every vacant appointment slot costs you money. You must have determined your charges per visit based on your costs, and many patients may reimburse at a lower rate than your fee schedule. So, if you do not fill those appointment spots on your calendar, you are losing money you need to thrive in business. For most healthcare providers, the average visit is worth about $ 100 to $ 150. If you allow 30 appointment slots in a day and do not fill 20 of them, that is up to $ 2,000 in lost revenue. Online scheduling may work great for last-minute and same-day scheduling, as it can help you fill empty slots.

6. Appointment Reminders

Don’t you hate it when a patient forgets about his or her appointment or gets the date or time wrong? Your staff must be spending a lot of time every day to manually go through your appointment schedule and sending out reminders just so that your patients will remember to come for the consultation they booked in the first place. Appointment reminders are now commonplace in the industry and are expected by patients. Most online appointment scheduling systems let you configure reminders and can automatically send your patients reminders every step of the way. This helps minimize ‘no-shows’ and makes your patients feel like they are important.

7. Increased Patient Satisfaction

Two common complaints from patients are long hold times on the phone and the work it takes to schedule an appointment. Online scheduling systems can address both these problems and improve patient experience. A recent study showed that it takes eight minutes on average to schedule an appointment over the phone, and at least 30 percent of that time is spent on hold. No wonder patients get frustrated and start looking for another healthcare provider. With an online scheduling system, patients can access your appointment schedule at their convenience and pick a day and time that suit them.

8. Preserved Critical Data

Whenever a patient makes an appointment, you only get to know the patient’s name and appointment time. Mostly, you would not know anything else without carrying your electronic medical records around the office. You may not even know the patient’s medical history or medical problem. This lack of information will never make you prepared for the upcoming appointment. The online appointment system can reduce this stress of not knowing important details about the patient. Through the online appointment system, your patient can fill in an information page and communicate his or her medical history and health issue that he or she is facing. This will help you be more prepared.

9. Better Decisions

Trying to manage the growth of a thriving medical practice? Or are you looking to improve your operational efficiency? Regardless of the size of your practice, the detailed reporting available in online scheduling systems will help you make better decisions. Most of the online appointment scheduling systems provide the following reports:

  • Number of no-shows on a periodic basis
  • Total number of appointments by each staff member
  • Week-wise comparison of productivity
  • Number of appointments booked as a result of marketing and promotion
  • A patient’s full appointment history

This accurate and easy access to critical data can help support both short- and long-term strategic decisions for your practice.

10. Cost-Effectiveness

Making an appointment with human involvement is expensive. Eventually patients are made to pay for this excessive expenditure in medical care. Even fixing appointments costs a lot of money. If you calculate the cost of having an administrative person, add their benefits and overhead costs, this can go over $ 100,000 per annum for one person. You can prevent this huge cost by simply moving to an alternate method: online appointment scheduling.

Online Appointment Scheduling: Take Your Medical Practice from Patchy to Profitable

Wrapping Up

You probably can get away with not having online appointment scheduling for now, but eventually, your practice will have to embrace this trend. The sooner you do it, the better you can get your staff trained, and the more your patients will enjoy its benefits.
Hopefully, these ten reasons for using online scheduling software can help nudge you off that fence. For sure, it will require a lot of changes in the way your patients book appointments, but this may be one of the most critical changes you will ever make to your medical practice.

To talk more about online appointment scheduling, or anything else, please contact the expert teams at Practice Builders.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

California ‘sanctuary’ bill gets support from law enforcement, rebuke from Trump administration

Los Angeles law enforcement officials expressed support Saturday for the “sanctuary state” bill just passed by the Legislature, saying it will protect immigrants from federal enforcement as they leave jails without jeopardizing local agencies’ relationships with federal officials.

The legislation…


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

California Democratic Party rejects final appeal from Kimberly Ellis


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

Mixed message from Trump on DACA sparks frustration from Dreamers as well as critics of illegal immigration

Ever since Donald Trump was elected, Melody Klingenfuss has known her time in the United States could be limited.

The 23-year-old has temporary immigration relief under President Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which seemed imperiled amid Trump’s vowed crackdown on illegal…


latimes.com – Los Angeles Times

T.I. Shares His Views on Everything From Donald Trump to Tupac Shakur Comparisons

Source: www.youtube.com – Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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Better billing? Healthcare can learn from other industries

With more patients being pushed into high-deductible plans, hospitals are increasingly dependent on collecting bills. They’re also confronting a patient population, schooled in electronic consumerism, that is no longer willing to put up with…
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

How to keep travelers from ignoring health risks

Any vacation trip is a risk—regardless of how tame the destination might seem.

Most people know that travel to exotic or underdeveloped countries should come with a battery of vaccinations, but this year health officials warn of outbreaks in more-conventional vacation spots.

Specifically, Europe has the measles.

NPR’s Goats and Soda blog writes :

The [measles] — which kills almost 400 kids each day worldwide — is hitting Europe hard this year.

Romania is fighting a large outbreak with more than 3,400 cases, including 17 deaths. And Italy is seeing a big surge in cases, with at least 400 already in 2017, the World Health Organization reported last week.

The outbreak is only going to get worse.

“Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising,” WHO wrote.

The spike in cases of the deadly disease is linked to a drop in vaccinations worldwide.

NPR reports :

“Over the past five years, measles vaccine coverage around the world has stagnated at around 78 percent,” [ Dr. Seth Berkley , who leads the nonprofit Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance] says. “That in combination with the European outbreak is worrisome.”

For the measles, it’s not enough to have 78 percent of a population vaccinated. You need about 90 to 95 percent to stop outbreaks, Berkeley says.

Because measles is one of the most contagious diseases on Earth. One sick person spreads it to 18 others, on average. The virus literally floats around in clouds through the air, seeking out the unvaccinated.

“You don’t even need to be in the same room with a sick person to catch measles,” Berkley says. “If you were to leave a doctor’s office and someone came an hour later, that person could catch measles just from the virus left in the air.”

Travel vaccines are nothing new for communicators who have been working to inform the public about health risks associated with overseas adventuring. However, recent declines in public trust in vaccines are a worrisome trend for public health professionals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has done research into why travelers decline their vaccinations. The CDC tweeted its findings:

The results point to a messaging problem, as the study suggests that most people who refuse vaccines are simply unconvinced of the danger of infection.

The CDC suggests that clinicians should be ready with facts to combat apathy when working one on one with patients.

These reports come amid continued anxiety surrounding the Zika virus and its effects on travelers to tropical climes. The CDC continues to warn pregnant women not to travel to areas where Zika has been reported.

It has also published a map with Zika outbreak areas.

Beyond just Zika, the CDC curates a comprehensive directory of every travel destination and its associated risks.

There are other concerns for global travelers beyond viruses and vaccinations. Travelers can be vulnerable to a wide variety of health issues, from blood clots to food poisoning.

Travel guru Rick Steves shares these basic tips on his website :

Take precautions on the flight. Long flights are dehydrating. Eat lightly, stay hydrated, and have no coffee or alcohol and only minimal sugar until the flight’s almost over. Avoid the slight chance of getting a blood clot in your leg during long flights by taking short walks hourly.

Eat nutritiously. The longer your trip, the more you’ll be affected by an inadequate diet. Budget travelers often eat more carbohydrates and less protein to stretch their travel dollars. Protein helps you resist infection and rebuilds muscles.

Use good judgment when eating out (and outside Europe). Avoid unhealthy-looking restaurants. Meat should be well cooked (unless, of course, you’re eating sushi, carpaccio, etc.) and, in some places, avoided altogether. Have “well done” written on a piece of paper in the pertinent language and use it when ordering.

Keep clean. Wash your hands often, keep your nails clean, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, can be helpful. However, since they target bacteria, not viruses, they should be used as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, hand washing with soap and warm water.

Practice safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are widespread. Obviously, the best way to prevent acquiring an STD is to avoid exposure. Condoms (readily available at pharmacies and from restroom vending machines) are fairly effective in preventing transmission. HIV is also a risk, especially among prostitutes.

Get enough sleep. Know how much sleep you need to stay healthy (generally 7–8 hours per night).

Additionally, On Call International put out an infographic on travel health risks.

 

Communicators, how are you warning of the inherent health risks of overseas travel?

HealthCareCommunication.com

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

11 Things Patients Want From Their Doctors

Patients trust doctors with their health. When we think about the patient-doctor relationship in this light, we realize just how important it is for the relationship to be a healthy one. When the relationship is strong, your patient’s health will improve. When it is not, the patient may suffer from a lack of clarity about the disease and diagnosis.

According to research from The PwC Health Research Institute, patients are expecting the same facilities and customer service from their medical practitioner as they would from a bank, hotel or airline. The PwC Health Research Institute surveyed thousands of patients to gauge their opinions of healthcare and found that active listening and transparency are the top priorities for patients when it comes to choosing a medical practitioner.

Getting a warm welcome when checking into a hotel shows friendliness, but in the doctor’s office, it can be a game changer. Today, patients are twice as likely to choose or reject a doctor on the basis of staff friendliness and attitude. While 70 percent of patients want doctors to offer multiple services under one roof, nearly 65 percent will appreciate the option to exchange information through smartphones.

However, the good news is that price is not a primary driver for most patients when it comes to choosing healthcare. A patient is more than twice as likely to prefer personal experience over price when selecting a doctor or medical facility.

A patient’s experience matters more than ever, not only because your doctor wants you to be well, but because policies and awareness are driving healthcare like never before. So patients have rights, including the right to participate in their healthcare rather than being an inactive patient. Here is a list of what patients expect and deserve from their doctors:

1. Transparency: It is acceptable if a physician does not know everything about their illness or diagnosis, but patients expect their doctors to share as much as possible. Uncertainty is okay, as long as patients are aware of the truth. Also, patients understand that doctors are humans, too, and that medical errors do occur. While patients usually never demand retribution, they do want a confession of the error and an assurance that the doctor is trying to fix the error. You must always educate your patients on the success rate and the risks involved with related procedures.

2. Active listening: When your patients leave your office after an appointment, do they feel like they are leaving a speech or a conversation? This is because conversations, and not lectures, will be helpful in improving your patients’ health. Patients want a doctor who respects their opinion, listens as they describe health issues and symptoms and asks follow-up questions in order to understand the cause of their illness. If you are always rushing through appointments, it can never be beneficial to anyone involved. Your medical should listen to your patients without interrupting them or making them feel rushed.

3. Trust: If a doctor is an active listener, patients will feel comfortable sharing every piece of information, including sensitive topics, assumptions, related myths and much more. In order to develop the best patient-doctor relationship, your patients must find you trustworthy enough to talk about other factors that affect their health. If they do not, you might not have made enough effort to earn their trust.

4. Care and connection: Patients instantly recognize the obvious signs of overtreatment, and they understand that more care is not equal to better care. Most patients stay cautious of ulterior motives of medical professionals and know that much money gets made in this profession. Patients want to be sure if they are getting the right care, without financial incentives getting in the way. Also, patients crave face-to-face interaction with their doctor. They want you to listen to them. Listening to your patients’ medical history is only the start; they also want you to connect with them on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.

5. Respect: If your patient is feeling cold, arrange for a blanket. If thirsty, get some water. Without addressing these underlying human needs, impressive offices and state-of-the-art equipment are useless. So forget the fancy ceiling and lighting and hire medical staff who will treat your patients with compassion and dignity. Also, patients will wait if they get what they want. Patients are not unhappy because they had to wait 30 minutes but because they did not get what they expected during their appointment with you. Do not make your patients wait for 45 minutes and then spend five minutes with them during the appointment. Such acts will make your patients feel ignored and disrespected.

6. Effective communication: Illness can suffocate even the bravest of souls. Diagnosis and procedures can be complicated, and a patient often feels vulnerable and helpless in your office, irrespective of their reason for being there. So the last thing they would expect is to walk out of your office without understanding a word you said. As a doctor, it is your responsibility to explain everything in a way your patient can understand. Don’t get upset or lose patience if you are asked to repeat or clarify instructions.

7. Time: Accept that some patients demand more time than others. Instead of rushing and handling five things in 10 minutes, pay attention to what your patients are saying. You must learn to value their time. You should allow ample time for your patients to ask as many questions as they want during an appointment.

8. Empathy: You can easily relate to your patient by asking about the daily schedule or eating habits. This kind of interaction creates a sense of connection, which will show your patient that you care. Always try to know and develop great relationships with your patients. If the patient is comfortable, feel free to ask personal histories, daily routine and lifestyle preferences. The medications that you prescribe may have side effects, and it is your duty to educate the patients about the potential risks and benefits. Also, patients are more likely to follow your instructions and return to your practice if they feel connected to you.

9. Access: If your patient is sick and wants to be seen, you must see him or her – even if that means working late or working through lunch hours. If you are not available when they need you, what good are you to them? Similarly, your patients should not have to wait for weeks for their lab results and make numerous calls to your office to receive them. You must consider electronic health records. EHRs may not be perfect, but they are helpful in simplifying communication and access-related issues. As a doctor, you must make sure your patients have access to their healthcare information.

10. Clear instructions: During an appointment, don’t make the mistake of rushing through instructions at an unintelligible pace. Be accurate and clear, and try to type out instructions that the patients can pick up when they leave. Always take the time to explain and simplify technical and medical terminology.

11. Collaboration: Your patients understand their body and life better than you do, and therefore you must get their consent before ordering a test or offering treatment. You must talk it through with your patients until they understand the purpose and implications of a test or treatment.

Medical Healthcare Marketing