WELL™ HEALTH ANNOUNCES VACCINE DEPLOYMENT PROGRAM

As the world anticipates an efficient vaccine distribution to the public,  Well Health Inc., has unveiled the WELL™ Health Vaccine Deployment Program to help healthcare providers rapidly execute secure patient messaging for COVID-19 vaccine communications.

WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program can be implemented in as little as five days and integrates with all major electronic health record companies (EHRs) and patient payment platforms with safety, security, and privacy.

Healthcare providers can use WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program for all aspects of vaccine communications including patient education, vaccine safety reassurance, appointment scheduling, adverse event monitoring, and more.

Since December 2020 when the first COVID-19 vaccine became available in the U.S., WELL™ Health has been used by more than 70 healthcare systems to send over 845,000 COVID-19 vaccine-related communications and schedule around 53,000 COVID-19 appointments.

“With COVID-19 rates skyrocketing and more vaccine supply becoming available, healthcare providers must rapidly identify, educate and engage millions of patients around the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder, WELL™ Health Inc. “Using our WELL technology to manage COVID-19 vaccine communications significantly reduces a hospital staff’s administrative burden and call center volume.  WELL also allows healthcare staff to focus on high-touch interactions such as deploying the vaccine itself.”

De Zwirek notes that WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program uses WELL™ ChatAssist to configure and automate hundreds of vaccine-related workflows to manage patient questions, appointment scheduling, virtual waiting rooms, post-discharge follow up, adverse event monitoring, and more.

WELL can be used to communicate with patients throughout the entire vaccine process, making this crucial process easier for patients and healthcare providers. WELL even allows providers to schedule second dose appointments immediately following the first to ensure patients return to get their second dose.

WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program:

  • Pre-Appointment Checklist Distribution
  • Outreach and Reassurance
  • Adverse Reaction Feedback
  • Second Dose Follow-up
  • Rapid Deployment and Implementation

Tip sheet and playbook

Beyond the implementation of the Vaccine Deployment Program, WELL™ Health also launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Tip Sheet and Playbook in early December 2020, created in partnership with clinical advisors.  The playbook offers tactical tips and language for healthcare providers to guide patients through the COVID-19 vaccine process. The tips work natively with the WELL™ Health communication platform but can be used with any patient communication tool.

COVID-19 vaccine in the news

Just last week, President elect-Joe Biden announced his plans to release all available COVID-19 vaccine doses, creating a need to make patient communications, appointment scheduling, and monitoring adverse events even greater. As new patients become eligible for the COVOID-19 vaccine, particularly those from underserved communities, the ability to communicate in multiple languages with cultural relevance is crucial. It is also essential that health communications are available via SMS text messages instead of just being internet-based since not everyone has access to internet services. The WELL Health communication platform has become key in helping health providers close the digital divide in order to reach this patient population♥

7 ways WELL protects patient health information

 

There’s no shortage of headlines on data breaches in healthcare.

Once again, federal agencies warn that cybercriminals are unleashing ransomeware attacks against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems. These and other frequent revelations erode consumer trust in health systems to protect patient data. And they send a chilling warning to chief information officers — protect PHI or risk millions in fines and litigation.

Health systems rely on third-party vendors for care delivery and coordination. But they present an additional vulnerability. Any weakness in their security is a weakness in yours.

“Healthcare has always been a target of cyber security threats, most recently shown by the spike in ransomware attacks to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. WELL remains committed to deploying and enforcing the latest security measures to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data we receive and store,” says Sam Jo, WELL Chief Information Security Officer. “Protecting our customers and the patients they serve is and always will be a top priority for us.”

#1 Security starts with people

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than half of data breaches in healthcare were triggered by internal negligence. Carelessness. At WELL, we take this risk to heart. We conduct security and compliance training upon hire and regularly throughout the year. Additionally, prior to receiving access to systems, employees must complete additional compliance and best practices training. They also must acknowledge their understanding of our acceptable use policies.

#2 Maintain an information security management program

WELL guards patient health information carefully and remains fully committed to deploying and enforcing the latest information security frameworks. We will protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the data we receive.

We maintain a comprehensive written information security program that covers all aspects of our information security practices, policies, and procedures, including all 19 domains of HITRUST.

#3 Develop with security in mind

The WELL development team employs secure coding techniques and best practices from The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) as well as SANS. Each of WELL’s developers receives formal training in secure web application development practices. We also use a peer-review model to ensure code complies with stated objectives.

Additionally, WELL’s code base is scanned at minimum on a quarterly basis, and the security team is tightly integrated with the development process to ensure secure coding practices are being followed.

#4 Store and encrypt data

WELL has a robust program for storing and encrypting data. We store data in the US in two distinct geographic regions and run databases in a private subnet. That means they’re not exposed to the internet, and access is restricted to the WELL application and authorized personnel. WELL also encrypts data in transit and at rest, and performs nightly backups.

WELL maintains a documented vulnerability management program. It includes periodically scanning, identifying, and fixing security vulnerabilities on servers, workstations, network equipment, and applications.

#5 Simulate threats

WELL is Veracode Verified and works with third parties to conduct penetration tests at least annually. These tests mimic an outside attack to ensure a full view of our environment. “WELL is committed to delivering secure code to help organizations reduce the risk of a major security breach. Companies that invest in secure coding processes and follow our protocol for a mature application security program are able to deliver more confidence to customers who deploy their software,” said Asha May, CA Veracode.

#6 Manage risks

The WELL risk management process aims to promptly address any potential risks that could affect the business and assets of the company. WELL utilizes the NIST framework for internal risk assessments. We also employ independent external auditors and consultants to perform risk analysis of WELL’s security posture.

#7 Prepare for the worst

Even with all of the correct security safeguards in place, incidents happen to even the most reputable organizations. WELL maintains a trained Incident Response Team which includes members of all integral functions across the business in order to quickly address potential incidents. The team meets regularly and has a clearly defined approach for handling potential threats.

Choose a vendor that takes security as seriously as you do

WELL serves many of the leading enterprise health systems, including Cedars-Sinai, Houston Methodist, and NYU Langone. Their security standards are the best in the business.

Deepak Chaudhry is National Health IT & HITRUST Leader at BDO, whichc conducted WELL’s HITRUST audit. He said, “WELL’s security program is particularly impressive, and security has clearly been a primary focus since the company’s beginning. WELL has made sure to consider the end-to-end data flow process, and they’ve conscientiously deployed all the necessary controls to best address safety, privacy, and potential risk.”

“We protect the patient information we receive as if it’s our own, because we have that responsibility,” Jo says. “Our environment and processes are built and maintained with a full understanding of the weight and sensitivity of the information we handle, and knowing we need to protect against the many threats that exist within information security.”♥

How WELL Benefits Orthopedic Practice Management

Orthopedic practices are often overwhelmed by patient calls and enquiries. Effective patient communication software can streamline orthopedic practice management, and help doctors respond to those in need as rapidly as possible. 

It’s Monday morning. Your neck is aching. Your skis are hung up in the garage for what might be an indefinite amount of time. And you’re on hold with your orthopedic surgeon.

This could be awhile.

“Orthopedics, by its very nature, is such an unpredictable specialty,” said Siobhan Palmer, Director, Santa Monica Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group.

The busy clinic, part of the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute, sees a huge spike in call volume Monday mornings due to weekend accidents. Palmer wanted an orthopedic practice management software that would enable the clinic to quickly and painlessly reach patients and communicate with them at the time they need it most.

She found WELL.

Communication’s significance in orthopedic practice management

Orthopedic practice management is a complex challenge. WELL understands the unique challenges that orthopedic practices face. Terri Werner, HIM Supervisor at New Mexico Orthopedics, expresses it succinctly: “We want to make things better for patients. If you’ve ever been a patient, you have an idea of what it’s like.”

However, a diminishing surgeon workforce and an increasing number of patients needing orthopedic care mean more work for physicians and shorter appointment times for patients.

Add in the last-minute schedule changes and you have an administrative headache.

Calls go unanswered. Patients get annoyed. Doctors and office staff shoulder the burden.

At least, that’s what we’ve heard from the many orthopedic groups that have sought out WELL. Here are some of the primary issues ortho practices face, and how our patient communication app has helped them address these challenges and implement orthopedic best practices.

Reduce high call volume

At St. Charles Orthopedic Surgery Associates in St. Peters, Missouri, a glut of incoming phone calls about simple, non-clinical issues crowded the phone lines, preventing patients with more pressing issues from getting through. 

The same was true for 360 Orthopedics, which has served patients in Florida since 1978. They had a significant volume of phone calls, that were a mix of emergencies needing immediate attention, and non-urgent queries. These calls all had to wait in a queue, creating a large workload and poor patient experience.

That’s a problem — especially because most people calling an orthopedic surgeon are probably already having a pretty bad day.

“We are always thinking about how to improve communications with patients,” said Suzann Crowder, administrator at SCOSA. “They often contact our practice when they are at a low point.”

Chad Nettleman, CIO of 360 Ortho agrees: “In today’s digital age, people expect someone to answer personally when they reach out via call or text – just like you’re standing in front of them in the lobby.”

Streamlining things with the right orthopedic practice management software makes a big difference. After implementing WELL’s bi-directional messaging capabilities, the busy practices saw a huge reduction in call volume. Automated messages provided answers to routine queries, such as “Where is your office located?” and staff could easily enter the conversation when necessary. WELL’s patient communication software reduced stress for office staff and greater satisfaction from patients.

Handle last-minute scheduling

Whether they sustain injuries on the trails or in a car accident, orthopedic patients often need last-minute appointments. Couple this with the realities any clinic faces—inclement weather, running behind schedule, or a physician calling in sick—and office staff needs patient communication tools to quickly and easily communicate last-minute changes.

Doctors at Rocky Mountain Orthopedic Associates see as many as 30 to 40 patients per day, so when a change arises, it’s especially challenging. Janis Hoppe, the practice’s subject matter IT expert described the situation this way, “We would have to try to contact every single patient at the very last minute. It’s incredibly disruptive to try to get a hold of that many patients.”

The Colorado-based practice implemented the WELL patient communication platform and immediately saw staff workflows streamlined and workloads lightened. With our orthopedic practice management software, they also saw an increase in patient responsiveness. “For some reason, when we text them, we get a response immediately,” said Pam Bachorski, the clinic’s practice administrator.

WELL’s broadcasts feature allows practices to streamline orthopedic practice management and quickly select up to 1,000 patients to send them all a customized message – great for last-minute schedule changes or notifications.

Reduced no-shows

The no-show rate for orthopedic follow-up appointments can be as high as 26 percent, according to a study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2014. Those with spine and back complaints are the most likely to miss appointments. That results in lost revenue, more administrative work for staff, and less likelihood of attracting new patients – those looking for those last-minute appointment slots. 

In addition to reducing their call volume, the WELL patient communication app introduced more benefits to SCOSA. They saw 50 percent reduction in no-shows and 11 percent increase in patient bookings within the first quarter following implementation. “WELL is one of those rare solutions that makes the patient care experience better without breaking the bank,” Crowder said.

360 Ortho, meanwhile, saw its no-show rate drop by 17%, to less than three percent – half of the industry average. This resulted in an impressive 208% return on investment. Moving forward, Nettleman anticipates more opportunities for WELL’s broadcast feature. “We’re always looking to move forward and expand it to where it makes logical sense. Now, WELL is one of our better tools, that’s for certain.”

Streamlined Revenue Collection

Software that aids effective orthopedic practice management also streamlines revenue collection. Take New Mexico Orthopedics. The busy orthopedic practice sees an average of 800 patients a day across its three locations. NMO wanted a digital front door that welcomes and remembers patients even before they set foot in the clinic.

To that end, NMO integrated WELL’s patient communication software with SwervePay, a cloud-based payment application. This helped streamline the check-in process further, allowing patients to quickly make their payments with a quick text message link.

Adoption grew quickly, and now, 17% of NMO patients pay their copays in advance. Furthermore, the advanced copay collection process reduced staff workload by nearly two hours a day. 

“Before, when the front desk took payment, staff had to manually enter it into the practice management system, which was a multi-step process,” said Sally Martin, Director of Revenue Cycle Management at NMO. “Auto-posting patient payments real-time is a huge win and saves on labor.”

Improved patient experience

A two-way communication between patients and doctors is one of the emerging orthopedic best practices. Ortho Northeast provides this to their patients through WELL, allowing ONE to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace. They saw an impressive 96 percent patient utilization of WELL’s platform and also saw no-shows cut in half.

Tia Brown, Appointment Reception Supervisor at ONE, said, “With the consumerization of healthcare, our patients now have more power than ever before. WELL allows us to focus on retaining them, making them happy, and most importantly focusing on our core competency.”

Similarly, NMO patients have quickly taken a liking to their new and advanced copay collection process. They especially appreciate not having to log in to a separate portal to make payments. NMO also anticipates that, in the future, patients will opt to pay their outstanding balances this way, which will reduce payment lifecycles. 

As for SMOG, with effective orthopedic practice management, the clinic was able to reduce call volume by 20 percent and nearly double the number of those calls answered to a much healthier 85 percent — meaning happier patients and maybe even a quicker return to the ski slopes.

New FCC telehealth grant programs subsidize cost of WELL and other connected care services

“Our nation’s healthcare providers need us more than ever, and we at the FCC are answering the call.”

Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai said this in an FCC news brief April 2, 2020 announcing two new telehealth grant programs totaling $300 million. They grant programs enable rapid deployment of “connected care services” in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus,” Pai said.

Telehealth services matter now more than ever

The goal behind the telehealth grant programs is to provide immediate support to health systems in improving access to care. Additionally, the programs aim to prevent pandemic spread by facilitating social distancing. The FCC telehealth grant application deadline for the bulk of the funds is the end of July 2020.

“Such technology is an essential part in improving communications between health care providers and patients during this time in order to better monitor patients’ health and improve their health outcomes,” the FCC said.

How WELL supports connected care services

The FCC broadly defines connected care services to include remote patient monitoring, “store and forward” services (e.g. transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician), and patient education. All of these can be accomplished using the WELL platform.

WELL also offers robust wrap-around telehealth services. Health systems use WELL to increase patient awareness of existing telehealth services, maximize the percentage of patients who enroll, and coordinate telehealth appointments from outreach to completion.

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Grant Program

The $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program offers immediate federal funds to support healthcare providers. It supplies eligible hospitals and health centers with telehealth grants of $1 million each to cover the necessary costs of providing connected care services in response to the pandemic. The FCC will accept funding applications from healthcare providers through July 2020 and process them on a rolling basis.

FCC Connected Care Pilot Program

A separate three-year Pilot Program will provide long-term support of up to $100 million in federal funds. They will help defray health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services. The Pilot Program will also assess how the Universal Service Fund can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.

“We expect that the Pilot Program will benefit many low-income and veteran patients who are responding to a wide variety of health challenges such as diabetes management, opioid dependency, high-risk pregnancies, pediatric heart disease, mental health conditions, and cancer,” the FCC said.

FCC telehealth grant programs eligibility

A large set of provider organizations stand to benefit from the new program. The set of eligible entities is consistent with the 1996 Act and the CARES Act — “providers that are likely to be most in need of funding to respond to this pandemic.” These include:

    • Medical schools and teaching hospitals
    • Community health centers and migrant care centers
    • Local health agencies and departments
    • Community mental health centers
    • Not-for-profit hospitals
    • Rural health clinics
    • Skilled nursing facilities (e.g. long term care facilities)

WELL has a proven track record supporting FQHCs, CHCs, and hospitals, including VCC, TVHC, Altura, and OCHIN.

 

No-risk with conditional contract and quick onboarding

WELL offers both immediate and long-term solutions for eligible provider organizations to take advantage of these two new telehealth grant programs:

The Rapid Release Program is a lightweight, crisis-oriented version of WELL that can be fully deployed in just 48 hours. WELL provides RRP below cost to new enterprise health systems and allows unlimited use of our most critical features for 90 days.

For healthcare organizations wanting to take advantage of the grant programs and mitigate risk, WELL is offering three-year contracts on our full Enterprise Platform conditional on FCC grant application approval.

We understand the financial burden the coronavirus pandemic has placed on health systems. By enabling telehealth visits and decreasing no-shows, optimal patient communication can significantly improve access to medical care. It can also increase revenue as care models adapt during this pandemic. ♥

 

The information provided in this document does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. WELL is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice. All information and content provided are for informational purposes only. Please contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or specific factual situation.

Improve patient satisfaction survey results with better communication

 

In an ideal world, the patient satisfaction survey drives better care, better patient experiences, and better outcomes.

In reality, it may only capture a fraction of patient feedback, incentivize deceptive coding techniques, and compel physicians to prescribe unnecessary drugs to demanding “consumers” of medicine. The problems with patient satisfaction surveys and how the results are used are well documented.

Nevertheless, patient satisfaction matters. It correlates with better treatment adherence and outcomes. And measuring it informally — such as sending surveys by text message following a visit — can provide actionable insights for practice managers, office staff, and providers. Here’s how:

Begin at the beginning

Before a patient sets foot in your office, fills out a single form, or steps on a scale, they’re interacting with your practice. When they wait 15 minutes or more to speak to a real person, it sets the tone for the entire interaction. And it translates to bad scores on the patient satisfaction survey.

“Patient complaints are rarely about physicians,” WELL CEO and founder Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO said in an interview with Medical Economics. “About 96 percent of complaints are related to bad customer service.”

Texting patients improves patient satisfaction

Altura Centers for Health, an FQHC in California’s Central Valley, dealt with high call volume. They also had low patient satisfaction scores — a disappointing 2 out of 5 stars.

“We have an underserved population,” said Manuel Pedroza, Chief Information Officer at Altura. “Our patients are busy, they don’t have time to wait on the phone to request an appointment for their son or daughter.”

Altura implemented WELL’s bidirectional texting solution and saw a 10 percent drop in call volume. Staff could manage multiple patients at a time via text message. As a result, Altura’s patient satisfaction survey scores increased.

The health system also saw a 10 percent increase in appointment confirmations and a 22 percent decrease in no-shows, which had direct implications on revenue.

Read between the lines

Forms vendors, such as Calibrater and Tonic, collect real-time patient feedback via text. This allows health systems to respond quickly. They can act on problems before a patient receives a regulated patient satisfaction survey or vents their frustrations on social media.

It also allows staff to see a direct and immediate correlation between performance and patient rating.

When forms vendors are integrated with a patient communication platform that allows for bidirectional texting, health systems can see what happened before and after survey responses and respond immediately. Seeing survey responses within the context of a conversation gives practices insights into the patient’s whole experience.

Respond quickly

Bidirectional texting also allows staff to engage with patients in real-time, from the same number. Patients who rank their experience 2 out of 10 can receive a prompt response from staff members. That quick response can turn a negative experience into a positive one. For Altura, implementing conversational texting transformed both the patient experience and the patient satisfaction survey scores.

“Our patients love it. It’s overdue; we should have been on this a long time ago,” said Manuel Pedroza, Chief Information Officer at Altura. “There’s nothing better than a simple program that just works.” ♥

How to choose a patient appointment reminder software

There are dozens of ways you can remind patients about their upcoming appointments.

But few offer the flexibility, reliability, and customer service you need to truly optimize texting in healthcare. Here are the important things to look for in a patient appointment reminder software.

Built for enterprise health systems

If you run a large practice or health system, choose a patient appointment reminder service built with your needs in mind. Software built for a dental practice or an eye-care clinic might be able to scale, but why suffer through those growing pains? Instead, opt for a platform purpose-built for enterprise health systems. Whether your practice has a dozen providers or a thousand, the software will meet your needs to reduce no-shows, increase confirmations, and collect payments.

Built for security

This might sound obvious, but choose a patient appointment reminder software that was built with healthcare security in mind. It should take security as seriously as you do and be both HIPAA compliant and HITRUST CSF Certified.

Flexible and customizable

Choose a patient appointment reminder software that offers flexible and customizable messaging. You should be able to choose what you want to say to your patients and when you want to send it. And you deserve the ability to update patient messages yourself.

Legacy patient appointment reminder services require nightly data batch uploads and don’t sync with the EHR. So, if you schedule appointment reminders to be sent to patients who later cancel, that’s too bad. Those reminders will go out anyway. And, if you want to make changes to your automations, those can take weeks to implement. Demand better.

Real time sync to the EHR

You need a patient appointment reminder software with real-time, two-way communication with the EHR. For example, when a patient cancels their appointment, it should push the cancellation directly to the EHR, without any additional lift from your staff.

The EHR also houses other important patient data, such as their preferred language. This ensures that patients receive messages in a language they understand.

Conversational messaging

Choose a patient appointment reminder software that allows patients to text you back. When you send an appointment reminder message, patients may have questions about the appointment and how they should prepare. Make sure they can ask those questions over text and your staff can respond quickly.

Or better yet, choose a system with a conversational chatbot that can respond to frequent questions, and get staff attention when necessary.

For example, a father brings his daughter into a new pediatrician for a physical and vaccinations. He has questions:

How long will she be out of school?

Should I bring anything?

The first question affects his convenience.  The second determines the efficiency of the appointment. If he doesn’t bring her records, she won’t receive the needed vaccinations. Your system should respond automatically when it knows the answer, and alert staff when it doesn’t.

White glove service

You need more than a patient appointment reminder software, you need experts in patient communication. Choose a platform that offers both. You’re already investing in the software, make sure it comes with service.

A client success team that offers white-glove service can improve the success rates of your appointment reminder messages. For example, simply choosing the right cadence to send messages improves confirmation rates and reduces no-shows.

Additionally, using the right language in your patient texts can improve response rates. A dedicated client success team can show you how. For example, message length and whether or not you use patient first names will affect your metrics.

Customizable reports

Speaking of metrics, choose a patient appointment reminder software that offers analytics and customizable reports to help understand patient needs. It should provide capability to:

  • See how many patients are responding to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointments
  • Measure your no-show trend over time
  • Track how productively your staff is using the software
  • Determine the optimal time frame to send out messages before an appointment
  • See how many patients have paid after receiving a co-pay or billing reminder
  • Provide advanced insights to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Read the reviews

When it comes to selecting any kind of software, read end-user reviews on platforms such as Capterra and G2. Reviews on these sites are from the people who are actually using the software on a day-to-day basis. Here’s what to look for:

  • Is the platform user friendly?
  • Does the software work? End users will be the first to know and to share when a product isn’t working well.
  • Does the software improve workflow?
  • Has the software improved appointment metrics?
  • Do appointment reminders get sent correctly?
  • Does customer service respond to issues quickly or do they require multiple examples of a problem before they tackle it?
  • Is support staff friendly and organized?

 

Why WELL is the preferred patient appointment reminder software

WELL is the only Leader in HIPAA Compliant Messaging on G2 as of Fall 2019. We were built for enterprise health systems and are HITRUST CSF Certified. Our product delivers amazing results and we offer the kind of client success that consistently earns us five-star ratings on Capterra and G2.

Reach out to one of our patient communication experts today to see how WELL can help you reach your patients.

WELL is now HITRUST CSF Certified

 

We’ve got big news! After a rigorous, multi-step process, WELL officially received HITRUST CSF Certification for our patient communication platform.

Just in case you’re not up on the latest in healthcare security, trust us, this is exciting. It means that the security and privacy of our platform meet comprehensive, meticulous standards.

Most of the information about HITRUST CSF Certification is a little confusing and technical, to say the least. So we’ve put together some material on why it’s important and what it means for the health systems that use WELL.

What is HITRUST?

HITRUST is a standards organization whose programs and services help safeguard sensitive information and manage information risk for global organizations across all industries. The organization’s evaluation criteria draw from prominent safety standards, frameworks, and guidelines, including HIPAA, PCI, and ISO.

How does HITRUST evaluate companies?

HITRUST evaluates companies using 19 domains, which are designed to address every facet of a business’s security operations. Those domains are:

  • Information protection program
  • Endpoint protection
  • Portable media security
  • Mobile device security
  • Wireless security
  • Configuration management
  • Vulnerability management
  • Transmission protection
  • Network protection
  • Password management
  • Access control
  • Audit logging and monitoring
  • Education, training, and awareness
  • Third-party assurance
  • Incident management
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Risk management
  • Physical and environmental security
  • Data privacy and protection

Vendors who meet HITRUST standards — usually after multiple rounds of evaluation and correction —are issued CSF certification.

HITRUST vs HIPAA

The HITRUST CSF is a rigorous set of controls that covers, among other sources, all the requirements of HIPAA. At WELL, we’ve mapped our security controls to ensure we’re compliant with both HITRUST and HIPAA.

But it’s important to note that while many healthcare vendors claim HIPAA compliance, there’s no definitive third-party that verifies HIPAA compliance. Basically, you have to take a company’s word for it. In contrast, HITRUST CSF Certification standards are set by a governing alliance, and an unbiased expert conducts the audit of each company.

Why does it matter?

Health systems are vulnerable to two basic kinds of breach: external attacks and internal errors.

Ransomware attacks more frequently target healthcare than any other industry. Patient health information is considerably more valuable than a social security or credit card number on the black market.

But while hacking and malware are the most high-profile threats to health systems, accidental disclosures are a major problem as well. (The most frequent culprit varies from quarter to quarter, and year to year.)

An effective security system protects against both.

And while the number of breaches has actually declined in recent years, individual incidents are becoming more severe. The average number of people affected per breach more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, a Bitglass report found.

In short, there’s a lot at stake for health systems, who bear an enormous responsibility toward their patents. Our HITRUST CSF Certification helps us ensure that patient health information is kept safe from both external threats and internal errors.

How did WELL get HITRUST CSF Certified?

An authorized third-party, external assessor — in this case, the widely respected firm BDO — conducted a wide-ranging audit of WELL’s security operations and architecture. We then submitted the BDO report to HITRUST’s governing body so they could perform their own assessment.

Using two different layers of review by two different assessors is deliberate. It’s designed to ensure that no corner of a company’s security protection goes untested.

How long does HITRUST certification last?

HITRUST certification is valid for two years. About one year in, HITRUST will conduct an interim review, just to make sure we haven’t made any significant changes or experienced any breaches.

How does HITRUST help WELL clients?

Essentially, it means that clients can be completely confident in WELL’s handling of sensitive information, whether it’s being transferred or stored. As BDO’s National Health IT Leader, Deepak Chaudhry, put it: “WELL has made sure to consider the end-to-end data flow process, and they’ve conscientiously deployed all the necessary controls to best address safety, privacy, and potential risk.”

And in turn, WELL’s HITRUST CSF Certification means it’s easier for our clients to prove the safety of their own patient data during assessments or audits. This is precisely why vendor assessment programs are placing a higher emphasis on security requirements: It not only means greater assurance, but also cost and time savings for health systems during third-party reviews.

This was a comprehensive undertaking — exactly as it should have been — but we’re so glad we went through the process. We know what an extraordinary responsibility it is to be entrusted with sensitive data, and we want our customers to know we’re worthy of their faith in us. ♥

8 surprising ways to improve patient scheduling with technology

 

How does your staff schedule care?

Effective patient scheduling is one of the most important elements of practice management — resulting in happy patients, increased revenue, and a streamlined medical office schedule.

Make patient scheduling a priority

A study conducted by the University of Utah in 2017 found that 39 percent of patients said one of the most important things in healthcare is the ability to schedule a timely doctor appointment.

However, more than one in three adults with an urgent condition reported that they couldn’t schedule medical appointments when they needed them, a study cited in JAMA found. Researchers said that problems were usually the result of “unplanned, irrational scheduling and resource allocation” not an actual lack of resources.

How to schedule patients effectively

Some effective scheduling techniques include scheduling from noon, prioritizing appointments, and creating a patient wait list. But these all add work to your already overburdened office staff.

Instead, leverage technology to improve patient scheduling without adding to your workload. Here’s how:

1. Confirm appointments with text or email reminders

Automated medical appointment reminders reduce no-shows, increase appointment confirmations, and ultimately increase the number of patient visits through better slot-utilization.

When you select an automated appointment reminder software, be sure to look for one with truly bidirectional functionality — when you’re texting patients, make sure they can text you back. Also, if you’re sending a confirming appointment email, use two-way email so patients can reply.

Riverside Medical Clinic, the largest physician-owned practice in California, implemented WELL’s two-way appointment reminder system. In just one month they saw a 33 percent reduction in no shows along with an increase in appointment confirmations to an impressive 94.5 percent.

2. Automate responses to routine questions

Your staff doesn’t need to respond to every patient message. With an advanced patient reminder system that includes keyword actions, you can send automated responses to both routine patient scheduling phrases such as “confirm,” “cancel,” and “reschedule” as well as the less-than-obvious scheduling phrases, such as “I’ll be there,” “different time,” or “can’t make it.”

3. Improve medical call-center operations

Some patients prefer to speak to a live person rather than to schedule doctor appointments online or via text messaging. Improving the operations of your call center by reducing call volume can dramatically improve patient scheduling.

Santa Monica Orthopaedic Group reduced call volume by 20 percent using WELL, allowing 85 percent of patients to reach a live person when they called to schedule an appointment.

4. Use data to identify trends and opportunities

In an article for Physicians Practice, healthcare consultant Judy Capko advised providers to use data to identify trends and the root cause of scheduling and patient-flow problems.

“This information is critical to digging deeper to evaluate specific incidences and determine what causes the bottlenecks and work-flow problems in your practice,” she said.

Data from patient scheduling software is a good place to start for tracking appointment times, arrival times, time to be seen by a physician, and other key metrics. Additionally, patient communication platforms may include analytics on confirmation and no-show rates and allow you to determine the ideal timing for sending messages.

5. Use broadcast messages to reach a group of patients

When a provider is sick or there is inclement weather, send a broadcast text message to all of the patient appointments you have scheduled for the day. This saves your office staff a couple hours of phone calls and ensures patients arrive at their appointments on time.

Patient Nino Palmiro* was scheduled for a major surgery and received a text message from the hospital alerting him to construction in the area. Because of the alert, he left two hours ahead of time and arrived right on time.

“If I hadn’t received that text, I would have completely missed my surgery,” Palmiro said.

For Palmiro, the text was life saving. For the hospital, it prevented lost revenue. Rescheduling the surgery would have been costly. Every hour of unused operating room time costs roughly $3600 in 2018.

6. Use patient self-scheduling — especially to reschedule appointments

As many as 20 to 30 percent of patients cancel or reschedule their appointments. Calling patients to reschedule creates a lot of administrative work. Instead, implement a patient self-scheduling system that integrates with your patient communication platform. This way, when a patient texts, “I can’t make it!” the software can automatically suggest alternative open times.

7. Use automated patient recalls for scheduling patients in the future

You don’t want to schedule patients a year out from their annual screenings or physical exams. Instead of sending them a self-addressed appointment reminder card in the mail, use recalls sent in the patient’s preferred medium — texting, email, or phone. Ideally, the platform will integrate with your EMR to mark the recall as scheduled to close the loop.

8. Use referral appointments system for patient scheduling

When your specialist offices receive a list of referrals, scheduling patients requires staff to call each patient individually — time consuming to say the least. Instead, use a referrals system that sends all referred patients a message asking them if they would like to schedule an appointment. This way, your staff can save time by following up only with the patients who actually intend to complete the referral. With WELL, the scheduled patients will automatically receive appointment reminders as well, reducing no-shows and keeping your office staff free to do what they do best — care for patients.

WELL leverages technology to improve patient scheduling. It is a fully integrated patient communication platform that enables enterprise health systems, private practices, and vendors to communicate with patients securely across any channel, including text messaging, email, telephone, and live-chat.

*name changed to protect patient identity

WELL deepens Epic integration through App Orchard

 

WELL and Epic go back. Way back.

WELL developed its patient communication platform to integrate seamlessly with Epic. Our first Epic client was Cedars-Sinai in 2016. Enterprise health systems across the country soon followed.

Now, WELL has been accepted to the Epic App Orchard, which will give us even deeper integrations and increased functionality. It also strategically positions WELL for greater exposure to Epic customers and illustrates how WELL can help them communicate with their patients.

Epic experts

WELL has more than 30 years of collective experience at Epic. Team members from integration engineering, strategic partnerships, and implementation know Epic inside and out. Together, we use our expertise to help our clients get the most out of the EHR.

Integration successes

Epic clients use WELL to improve portal enrollment in MyChart. After implementing WELL, Cedars-Sinai increased portal enrollment by 19% in five months, with some specialty clinics achieving increases as high as 67%.

WELL plus Epic

There’s no doubt about it: Epic is an extraordinary system of record. When it comes to internal documentation, it’s one of the best platforms out there.

In order to realize Epic’s full potential, you need a communication platform that can draw information from the EHR to reach your patients in a way that’s most convenient for them — enabling flexible, open-ended communication with your health system.

WELL’s state-of-the-art platform can integrate seamlessly with both Epic and other third-party vendors, helping you drive portal enrollment, streamline workflows and communication, reduce call volume, improve billing, analyze patient sentiment, and much more.♥

InstaMed and WELL: An Easier Way for Patients to Pay Their Bills

 

We’re all patients here, so let’s be honest: we don’t always pay our bills the second we receive them. Or even the second time we receive them.

We’re not doing it deliberately. It’s just not convenient to spend time filling out a form and check, finding a stamp, and putting it all in the mailbox.

That’s why WELL and InstaMed have partnered to introduce a seamless new mobile-pay process (video). Together, patients receive alerts when they have an outstanding balance and can easily pay it where they already are: on their smartphones.

And patients aren’t the only ones who benefit. WELL customers can reduce the inconvenience of paper statements and lower outstanding accounts receivable—all with no extra work for staff.

Why auto-billing?

  • Payment is faster, easier, and more convenient—for health systems and patients alike.
  • Studies show 98% of text messages are opened, so patients are more likely to know what they owe.
  • Auto-filling patient information and balances eliminates reconciliation issues.
  • A health system can know instantly when a balance has been paid, reducing the need for follow-ups and phone tag.
  • No need to send out paper bills or deal with unwieldy envelopes.

Here’s how it works:

Automatic or Manual Options
Using WELL, you can set up an automation that goes out when a patient has an outstanding balance. If you’d like, you can also generate a manual message using the SmartPhrase {instamedPaymentLink}. Your message will include a link to an InstaMed payment page.

Auto-Filled Payment Page
When a patient clicks the link, WELL auto-fills the amount that’s due—along with the relevant account number—on the payment page. All a patient needs to do is pay the balance. And if they have payment information saved on their phone, they can use it here, making the process virtually effortless.

Permanent Record
As always, both the original message and a record of the payment will be posted to the patient’s channel. You’ll have a record of the entire exchange, forever.

Updated Billing System
When a payment is made, it’s posted to your billing or patient management system, so you can track who’s using InstaMed through WELL—and make sure it’s working for you. ♥

Get Started

Find out how WELL’s enterprise communication hub can make it easy to engage patients for world-class clinical and administrative experience.