For several years, health care clinics have been required to comply with HIPAA patient privacy and security standards at the risk of heavy fines or worse. Too often, that compliance has come at the cost of efficiency – but it doesn’t have to.
The challenge, of course, is finding a better system that allows you to guide patients around a health care clinic or hospital without putting their information at risk by broadcasting it over an intercom.
The solution is modern technology that improves patient flow and increases staff efficiency, all while strictly adhering to HIPAA.
Paging Systems Improve Patient Experience, Eliminate HIPAA Worries
One of the easiest ways to violate HIPAA regulations is through the use of overhead announcements. The simple act of calling out – “Blood test in Room 2!” – can be considered a violation.
That obsolete method also can be unproductive. Health clinic employees can be overwhelmed by multiple pages requesting them for different tasks. More often than not, this means patients end up sitting in exam rooms for much longer than they should as employees scramble to remember where all they are needed. Overhead paging also results in a very noisy environment for patients.
Instead of relying on outdated intercoms, modern healthcare clinics are switching to paging solutions, both for their staff and patients.
The Netpage Unlimited Wireless Paging System acts as a central hub, connecting clinic staff through SMS texting, pagers or email. With the touch of a button, a doctor or office manager can alert the entire staff or an individual with a pre-programmed or custom message.
Alerting Patients Via Pager Also is More Efficient
Health care personnel also can use this system to alert patients when their rooms are ready. Most patients are accustomed to a nurse calling out their name when the doctor is ready to see them, but this can actually be a HIPAA violation if there are other patients in the waiting room.
Instead, you can give each patient an alphanumeric pager synced to the central hub. Alternatively, you can put their cell numbers in the paging system and send them a text. This is especially helpful for large healthcare centers or clinics near retailers or restaurants. Instead of being confined to a waiting room with sick people, patients can run an errand or grab a bite to eat.
When their time comes to see a doctor or technician, you can alert patients without identifying them to other people in the room. They might spend the same amount of time waiting for their appointment, but patients are much more forgiving if they feel like they spent their time productively.
Patient Room Pagers Improve Efficiency, HIPAA Compliance
Another type of pager every health care clinic should know about is the push-button pager. This system comes with five programmable buttons, reducing the need for staff to communicate in hallways where patients can overhear private health information. It’s also a great way to improve patient flow because employees can see what is needed in each room and prioritize their tasks to be as efficient as possible.
Dental offices might program the buttons as ‘ready for cleaning’ and ‘ready for dental check’ while general health practitioners might use alerts such as ‘needs lab work’ or ‘assistance needed’. The best part about these pagers is that they are customizable, so every type of healthcare clinic can benefit from them.
Houston Health Care Center Sees Positive Results
The 52 health care employees of Bayshore Family Practice Center in Houston were concerned that relocating their practice to a smaller building would negatively impact staff and patients. They invested in both the Netpage system and the push-button pagers, placing one outside of each patient room.
The results, they say, couldn’t be better. They got rid of their overhead paging system, and staff and administrators are happy that the noiseless pagers help them abide by HIPAA privacy regulations and minimize clinic distractions.
Employees are also able to work more efficiently, and patients appreciate the quieter, more professional environment.
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.