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Managing People Is the Hardest Part of an Organization

Posted on February 18, 2016 I Written By

The following is a post by Vishal Gandhi, CEO of ClinicSpectrum as part of the Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with him on Twitter @ClinicSpectrum and @csvishal2222.
Vishal Gandhi
When managing a healthcare organization, the hardest part for most leaders is managing the people involved in the practice. This shouldn’t be a surprise since “getting the right people on the bus” has always been the challenge of any successful business. Making sure you hire the right people and then ensuring those people are working at maximum efficiency often determines the success of your organization.

While we can’t quite ask Siri to take care of managing our staff for us, technology solutions can help us better manage the process of hiring the right people and managing staff productivity.

Let’s first talk about the process most healthcare organizations use to hire and on-board new staff. The reality is that the majority don’t have a well defined process. Some well organized managers do have a consistent hiring and on-boarding process, but most are just trying to keep their head above water as they bring on new people. This inconsistency can lead to hiring the wrong person and possibly even major legal consequences.

By implementing an HR management solution like we created with HRMSpectrum, it forces your organization to put some structure into your hiring process. All applicants participate in the same application process. The system allows the applicant to schedule the interview themselves. It even supports telephone, video, or in-person interviews. Could you do this with a mix of spreadsheets and other technology? Absolutely, but it can get messy very quickly. However, regardless of what technology you use, spending the time to create a well defined process is enormously valuable.

Plus, a proper HR management solution supports not only the application and interview process, but also tracks the employee as they get on-boarded with the organization. This can include such features as document signing, employee training and evaluation, employee clocking and attendance management, and performance appraisals and incentives to name a few. All of this ensures consistency and uniformity in the hiring and on-boarding process.

Once you’ve hired the right people and on-boarded them into the organization, how do you ensure that your employees are working productively? In healthcare, we know how productive a doctor is being since we can see how many patients he has on his schedule. With a productivity solution like our ProductivitySpectrum you can easily track and manage the rest of your employees’ productivity. That includes things like benchmarking and performance analysis, but also includes important time clock functionality as well. Any productivity solution you use should also prevent time spent on non-productive web browsing and social interaction online.

There’s nothing more powerful in an organization than to reward your staff for the work they do. By tracking their productivity you can identify and reward high performing individuals in your organization. Yes, that also means you’re going to find lower performing individuals. However, by tracking productivity you have the hard data to illustrate and inspire a low performing individual to improve their performance. Performance evaluations based on data are better for everyone involved.

No doubt there’s a lot more to managing people in an organization than just using the right technology. However, technology can assist managers in both the hiring and productivity tracking process. It can provide uniformity and raw data to help a manager better manage their staff. What HR and productivity management solutions are you seeing and using in your organization? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

The Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts is sponsored by ClinicSpectrum, a leading provider of workflow automation solutions for healthcare. ClinicSpectrum offers a full HR hiring and on-boarding solution called HRMSpectrum. For managing staff productivity check out ClinicSpectrum’s ProductivitySpectrum solution. Connect with Clinic Spectrum on social media: @ClinicSpectrum or at Booth 1270 at HIMSS 2016..

Increasing Nursing Satisfaction through Technology Helps Improve Patient Care

Posted on October 29, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Karlene Kerfoot, Chief Nursing Officer at API Healthcare.
Karlene Kerfoot - API Healthcare - GE Healthcare
Technology is an undeniable force in the healthcare industry and plays a daily role in a nurse’s life. Nurses are responsible for managing devices and utilizing the electronic health records, among many other things. Whenever patient care requires a nurse, they will interact with advanced technologies. As a result, improving these digital systems to better improve clinicians’ ability to provide care is at the top of mind for most hospitals.

While hospitals and health systems work to implement and improve technologies, it is important to keep in mind how that technology can have larger implications. One consideration is how the innovation impacts your work staff’s satisfaction.

Nurses are the heart of the healthcare team and are the most patient-facing representatives. Research has shown that changes in technology, among other things, may allow for substantial improvements in the use of nurses’ time and the delivery of safe patient care. However, technology that isn’t nurse-friendly can impede the work of the nurse. When hospitals find ways to streamline processes and make things more convenient for nurses to do their jobs, it can lead to increased job satisfaction. Furthermore, nurses who feel empowered in their roles are more effective and report better patient care, which is one of the ultimate goals hospitals set for success.

In addition to how technology helps nurses during their day-to-day jobs, hospitals can also use technology to manage broader job satisfaction when it comes to things like staffing and scheduling. Nurses often face a unique set of challenges when it comes to their schedules, workflow and even things like career development – all of which requires hospitals to rethink how they enable work satisfaction through technology.

For example, because patient needs can be unpredictable, it is often times challenging for hospitals to predict their staffing needs on an hourly or daily basis, especially during spikes around the holidays that pull nurses away from families and personal needs.

If a nurse is consistently working overtime hours, situations like handling too many patients or being assigned to patients outside of their training/expertise can inhibit their ability to advance their careers. In addition, fatigue and stress as a result of nurses working extensive periods of overtime can result in serious and potentially life-threatening medical errors. In fact, the odds of making an error are more than three times higher when nurses work shifts of 13 hours or more.

Newer workforce technology systems for nurses can help to ensure a fair and equitable workload so managers can set up their staff for success, and make changes to schedules by pairing up staffing needs to things like patient acuity or census numbers by the day or hour. These technologies also give nurses the opportunity to take more control over their schedules and avoid the burnout.

The ability to use tools that help with staffing needs supports additional research that shows that nurses who work excessive amounts of overtime, produce lower quality work and their happiness levels decrease, which ultimately impacts the patient satisfaction and hospital’s bottom line.

The value technology has brought to healthcare is growing by leaps and bounds, but at the core of healthcare are the patients and the people who can help them. Technology has infinite ability to help both, and it is important that health systems have access to resources that allow them to make better staffing decisions.

About Dr. Karlene Kerfoot
Dr. Karlene Kerfoot is the Chief Nursing Officer for API Healthcare, a GE Healthcare Company. API Healthcare is a leader in healthcare workforce optimization technology and service. Dr. Kerfoot is widely acknowledged for her work in patient safety, data-driven staffing and scheduling, creating healing environments and healing sanctuaries for staff, pioneering models of shared governance, and achieving excellence in quality outcomes.

Solving the Non-EHR Challenges Healthcare Faces

Posted on March 31, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The following is an interview with Vishal Gandhi, CEO of ClinicSpectrum as part of the Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with him on Twitter @ClinicSpectrum and @csvishal2222.

As we head into the massive HIMSS healthcare IT conference in Chicago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shift in healthcare technology that’s occurred over the past 5-10 years. When I first started attending HIMSS, I was all about the EHR company and what they had to offer. That trend continued on the back of $36 billion in government EHR incentive money. Now that EHR adoption is more mature, practices are becoming more and more interested in non-EHR technologies that can improve the way they work.

With that in mind, I took some time to sit down and talk with Vishal Gandhi, CEO of ClinicSpectrum to talk about their non-EHR solutions. Vishal and his team have been thinking about non-EHR technologies and pairing those with low cost human touch for a long time. For example, here’s a look at some of the challenges they’ve tackled:

  • Patient Collections
  • Physician Credentialing
  • IT Support
  • Medical Billing
  • Meaningful Patient Engagement
  • Staff Productivity

If your practice or company is facing any of these challenges, take a minute to watch my interview with Vishal to learn more about their unique approach to solving these challenges:

Also, if you don’t have time to watch the whole video interview, they’ve created this great graphic which illustrates the suite of challenges practices face today and solutions (click to see larger version of graphic):
ClinicSpectrum Healthcare IT Ecosystem

The Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts is sponsored by ClinicSpectrum, a leading provider of workflow automation solutions for healthcare. Check out their suite of hybrid workflow solutions on ClinicSpectrum.com or schedule a meeting with them at HIMSS Booth: 5427 by tweeting @ClinicSpectrum.

Tips for Women in the Medical Device Industry

Posted on March 4, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ll admit that I’m far from an expert on the challenges and inequities of women in the workforce. I think that everyone that knows me knows that I love working with women and I love strong empowered women. It’s what I hope my daughter will become one day. I’m proud that the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR conference was the first conference to be listed with over 50% female speakers.

I recently saw a stat that there were more CEO’s of the top 1500 companies named “John” (5.3%) than there are women CEOs (4.1%). That’s particularly disturbing since my name is John. It highlighted to me how solving the issues of gender inequality in the workplace is incredibly complex and challenging.

While I admit I don’t have all the answers, I was interested to hear these 5 suggestions for women from Kathryn Stecco, MD.

Women considering entrepreneurial initiatives in medical technology should follow these basic principles.

  1. Start with a big idea that solves a big problem: A new business must start with a powerful idea for a product or service that fills a real unmet need. Market is everything.
  2. Pursue a practical solution:  Focus on products that are safe, effective and easy to use for both physician and patient. If the product doesn’t make physicians’ lives easier, they won’t use it. The product must produce meaningful clinical data that speaks for itself.
  3. Build relationships – early – with clinicians: Medical entrepreneurs must be out in the field developing ties with physicians and getting their input early in the design process. No matter how well designed your product or how impressive your patents, physicians will have the last word on the usefulness of your product. They are vital to your success.
  4. Be prepared to shift gears:  Don’t fall into the trap of becoming so enamored of an idea or a product that you lose sight of its real likelihood of succeeding in the marketplace. You must have the flexibility to move on to something else when changes in the environment cause the ground to shift under your feet and your plans to be upended.
  5. Enjoy the ride!  Successful entrepreneurs make adversity the energy that fuels their creativity. They don’t learn their most valuable lessons in the classroom but in the trenches. They thrive on the long hours, the unpredictability, the rush that comes from building something important and valuable.

Maybe some of these ideas will help some women who are working in the medical device industry. It’s a small thing for sure, but maybe if we all do small things to improve the opportunities for women those small things will turn into something great.

How Can Human Resource Technology Better Help You Manage Your Employees

Posted on March 3, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest post by Vishal Gandhi, CEO of ClinicSpectrum as part of the Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with him on Twitter @ClinicSpectrum and @csvishal2222.
Vishal Gandhi
In healthcare we love to talk about ways we use technology with patients. We chart patient visits in the Electronic Medical Record. We schedule and bill patients and insurance companies from a Practice Management System. We interact with patients through a patient portal. All of these technologies can be great, but how come we don’t talk more about the way technology can improve how we run our practices and manage our employees?

One example of this is using technology to improve your HR. We see this in many other industries and at a few of the large hospital organizations, but for the most part healthcare hasn’t benefited from great HR practices that utilize technology. As healthcare organizations continue to consolidate, it’s going to be extremely important that every healthcare organization has a well designed human resource program to train, track, and retain key employees.

Let’s look at three areas you can use technology empowered HR practices to track, manage, and improve your human resource efforts:

Employee Growth Milestones
Are you creating a growth plan for your employees? Do you have a system that tracks that growth plan for your employees? If you don’t have either of these, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity. By setting growth milestones or goals for your employees you inspire them to be better and do more. Plus, employees love to know that there are opportunities to grow within your organization and a clear plan of how that growth can be achieved. However, along with setting these milestones, you also have to have a way to track how your employees are doing in their efforts to achieve these milestones. Otherwise, there’s no reason to set a growth milestone if you’re not going to evaluate it later.

Healthcare Human Resouce Management
While you could do this milestone tracking on paper or in a set of Word documents, we know what happens to those documents. They get filed away and forgotten. The better option is to use an employee management system which integrates these growth milestones into your employee’s performance milestones. Then, you can see how an employee’s performance corresponds to their growth milestones. Plus, with an integrated package, you can regularly be reminded of those growth milestones.

Employee Performance Milestone
Now that you’re setting growth milestones for your employees, let’s consider how you can track an employee’s performance. Doing so will encourage better performance and will provide you a way to reward those employees who are delivering great results and work with those employees who aren’t progressing towards their growth milestones.

A great example of this is with your medical billing staff. Using technology you can track the performance of that medical billing staff. How many insurance checks did they do? How many claims are they processing? How many collections phone calls did they complete? Each of these items illustrates how well that medical billing staff is performing their job’s duties. By integrating this tracking into your human resource management system, you have an objective way to evaluate and reward your employees.

Employee Benchmarking and Productivity
Now that your employees have a set of growth milestones and you have the ability to track their performance, you can effectively benchmark your staff and evaluate their productivity. Once again, while this can be done on paper, it’s much more effective and efficient with technology.

Benchmarking your employees against their peers is incredibly valuable because it helps a manager evaluate which employees might need more help and which employees deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. Without these benchmarks, we have to base our evaluations on how we feel and that can often be wrong.

A great human resource management software can facilitate an improved HR program for your employees. Doing so is extremely important to your organization so you can retain their key employees. Human resource management software gives the best employees a roadmap for how to be rewarded in regular performance evaluations. On the other hand, it also helps an organization evaluate their poorly performing employees so they can either help them improve or let them go. Healthcare organizations that choose not to utilize technology in their human resource management efforts are likely to lose their best employees as they fall behind their competitors. That’s a recipe for disaster in the competitive healthcare environment.

The Cost Effective Healthcare Workflow Series of blog posts is sponsored by ClinicSpectrum, a leading provider of workflow automation solutions for healthcare. Check out their healthcare Human Resource management module, HRMSpectrum to help improve your HR management efforts.