One of the shortcomings we’ve observed over the many years we’ve been supporting providers and their staff in pursuit of connectivity is just how much focus is (wrongfully) at the top. Yes, those who sign the checks and contracts need to be on board, but where digital transformation really occurs is right on the front lines…or better yet, at the front desk. Clinical staff are a wholly untapped resource that can generally articulate pain points and inefficiencies better than the physicians and nurses they serve. This is especially true in post-acute care, where administration is intimately linked to care delivery. From referral request to care plan exchange, to managing readmissions and (trying to) coordinate the care team, post-acute care settings like skilled nursing and home health carry a hefty burden of paperwork. It’s 2023…this cannot continue.
Today we’re going to highlight just how important are clinical staff when it comes to conversations about communication strategies in healthcare that actually move the needle. The most impactful opportunities may not be where we all assume, and certainly not where the powers-that-be assume. Instead, empowering clinical staff to establish the KPIs used to drive healthcare communication efforts will yield better, more tangible results that actually change the care experience for everyone!
Keeping The Pulse on The Woes of Clinical Staff
Here’s the thing: if something is not working for the clinical staff, it’s not working for the practice or healthcare organization. Period. When administrative staff are buried under paperwork and manual follow up tasks, the care experience will suffer and revenue will follow. It already is. We’ve all experienced that. But so often the approach of healthcare IT vendors and health systems is to pump money and attention to the acute provider experience. And while this is still valuable, it’s missing a key opportunity to create efficiencies that quite literally mean the difference between patients getting in the door or not. (Have you ever been held hostage for an appointment while waiting on paperwork and phone calls? Yeah, it’s brutal. Let’s evolve, shall we?)
As an industry and as technical vendors, we have to listen to the woes of clinical staff when it comes to communication barriers and efficient workflows. It may seem so 1990s to still be circling the wagons on faxing, for example, but for a lean clinical practice, providing them the option of cloud faxing to streamline records management and reduce paper filing could mean capacity for more patients…or perhaps more importantly, more attention for the patients they already have.
Making the Juice Worth the Squeeze for Change Management
If you’ve never worked in an administrative position for a healthcare provider, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: whenever technology changes in a practice, the burden is borne by the clinical staff. Sure, busy providers have to flail too, figuring out new buttons and modules. But it’s primarily the clinical staff that is dealing with new workflows, keeping track of new logins for everyone (Gasp! It’s true.), all while answering the phones and trying to stay cheery for patients standing at their desks. To make this transition worthwhile, the payoff has to make sense. And this is exactly why it’s vital to let clinical staff be part of defining the pain points, suggesting remedies, vetting technology solutions, and establishing the KPIs used to define successful implementation. Not only is this empowering for staff dealing with unprecedented burnout, but it will drive adoption and provide insights that executives simply can’t have without being in the day-to-day throes of managing patient information.
For example, if the biggest time suck for administrative healthcare staff is managing referrals, then imagine how much throughput could improve if a simple tool like the Kno2fy® portal was leveraged to manage and exchange referral requests and patient records. Whether this means the ability to take in more referrals (and the revenue associated with more patients) or simply improve the efficiency of scheduling and reducing wait time to improve outcomes and well-being, there’s a win around every corner! But when decisions are made away from the point of care, interventions such as automating intake and referrals may not get the attention it deserves.
The clinical staff are the heartbeat of most healthcare offices and facilities. The more we can tap these willing participants to lighten their (literal) load and identify communication strategies that will actually change the day-to-day clinical experience via meaningful, relevant KPIs, the more successful we’ll be in facing healthcare challenges that won’t go away with more tech for tech’s sake.