In the era of remote work, businesses are grappling with unique communication and logistical challenges. The isolation that comes with working from home leads to less interconnected and more compartmentalized business networks. Collaboration between different teams within a company takes a hit, with employees collaborating with their cross-functional peers about 25% less than what was seen in pre-pandemic times. The shift to remote work has slowed down the growth of collaborative relationships.
However, it isn’t all gloomy; remote operations have some upsides too. Staffers tend to communicate more frequently with their immediate teams, strengthening internal bonds. Moreover, asynchronous communication channels, such as emails and messaging platforms, witnessed increased usage, allowing greater flexibility for international teams working across varied time zones. In contrast, synchronous communication, including in-person meetings and video conferences, witnessed a decline.
What Are the Unique Challenges of Businesses with Remote Staff?
One major challenge faced by organizations is maintaining passive knowledge sharing in a remote work environment. Shared physical spaces often create serendipitous opportunities for experiences or ideas to be exchanged informally. Such unplanned interactions can be a breeding ground for fresh ideas and solutions. With the absence of these interactions, companies risk losing out on these spontaneous exchanges of information.
- Decreased Interconnectivity: Remote work can lead to a compartmentalized and less integrated business network. Employees tend to communicate less frequently with colleagues from different groups.
- Reduced Cross-functional Collaboration: Staffers tend to collaborate about 25% less with their peers from different teams than during pre-pandemic times. Thus, forming new collaborative relationships can be slow.
- Changing Communication Methods: With the shift to remote work, employees depend more on asynchronous channels, such as emails and messaging platforms. In contrast, synchronous methods like in-person or video conferencing see less use.
- Decrease in Meeting Hours: Remote work has led to about a 5% reduction in meeting hours, indicating that the increase in meetings during the pandemic was due to other factors besides remote working.
- Loss of Informal Knowledge Sharing: A shared physical workspace naturally facilitates serendipitous exchanges of information. The shift to remote work does away with these spontaneous interactions, creating a need to recreate such opportunities in a virtual setting.
- Difficulty in Maintaining ‘Watercooler’ Connections: The lack of casual conversation that normally occurs in physical workspaces can lead to a loss of connection between team members, decreasing team bonding and potentially impacting overall team cohesion.
However, transitioning this type of communication to a remote setting is possible; it just requires a change in perspective.
How Can Service Providers Support Remote Healthcare Workers?
Managed Service Providers
MSPs can provide vital support to remote healthcare workers in various ways. One of the notable advantages of MSPs is the redundancy they offer. These providers employ numerous IT engineers, ensuring that someone is always available to assist with IT services, regardless of the users’ locations. This redundancy becomes even more beneficial in cases where employees fall sick and are unable to perform their duties.
MSPs also ensure secure access to on-site, web, and cloud-based files for remote healthcare workers by establishing a firewall. Further enhancing security, these providers set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote workers, facilitating secure access to files stored on on-site servers.
Cloud Phone Systems
Operating over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), these systems manage phone calls in the cloud over the internet, allowing business phone calls to be made and received from anywhere. This eliminates the need for remote employees to use their personal numbers for business calls, maintaining a professional boundary.
On-Call Scheduling Tools
In addition, on-call scheduling tools can prove incredibly useful in managing remote healthcare staff. These user-friendly applications ensure fair and efficient scheduling, accommodating practitioners’ preferred schedules wherever possible, thereby preventing burnout and high turnover. Especially suited to remote teams located across varied geographical areas, the ‘follow-the-sun’ schedule allows for constant availability of team members during daytime hours in their respective time zones. As a result, night shifts become unnecessary and work-life balance is better maintained. Overall, these support measures significantly streamline remote healthcare work, while promoting efficiency and employee satisfaction.
Remote Desktop Services
Access solutions, like remote desktops, provide crucial support to remote healthcare workers by allowing them to securely access medical software systems from anywhere, on any device. This facilitates a quick and secure connection to computers or virtual machines, contributing to efficient patient care.
Virtual Medical Assistants
This type of outsourcing offers a significant level of support by entering patient data into electronic records, managing tasks such as billing and coding, preparing patient records, and even assisting with healthcare practice marketing. By offloading these administrative tasks, they help healthcare professionals to focus more time and energy on patient care.
Record Digitization Services
Digital forms assist in reducing errors and costs associated with traditional paper-based forms. The convenience of having forms available for electronic signature streamlines procedures and saves on costs related to printing and managing paper forms.
Automated Information Capture
These innovative AI tools allow for seamless gathering of information from various systems, digitizing and combining them to create comprehensive packets of data. This promotes effective collaboration and sharing among remote staff, reduces the need for printing hardcopy documents, and maintains a complete audit trail for HIPAA compliance purposes.
Digital Workflow Software
Digital workflows help ensure a smooth transition between remote and in-office work. They provide a secure, HIPAA-compliant environment for remote workers, contributing to operational sustainability. Additional benefits, such as productivity monitoring, information encryption for controlled access, and reduced needs for physical office space, demonstrate the importance of digital workflows in supporting remote healthcare teams.
Call Center Services
Medical answering services provide round-the-clock patient accessibility. These services can handle a wide range of tasks, such as managing appointments, providing information about services, addressing patient inquiries or concerns, and routing calls to the appropriate healthcare personnel. Plus, secure text messaging provided by call centers is an efficient way for healthcare professionals and patients to exchange sensitive information. This ensures staff can efficiently handle patient communications while maintaining confidentiality and adhering to HIPAA regulations.
These skill service providers can also deliver data such as call volume, call duration, response times, and patient feedback. The data can be used to identify areas of improvement and make informed decisions about resource allocation and patient service strategies.
Related article: How to Get Started with Call Center Outsourcing.
What Types of Healthcare Jobs Can be Handled Remotely?
- Physician Assistants: Physician assistants perform a range of tasks similar to doctors, often working alongside them in diagnosing and treating patients, many of these responsibilities can be carried out remotely.
- Telephone Triage Nurses: These professionals work remotely to offer patient support after regular hours. They answer patient questions about treatment or medications, and assess symptoms, recommending further action if necessary.
- Virtual Nurses: Perform various duties under the supervision of doctors or senior nurses, including coordination of care, recording medical histories, and providing patient education and follow-up care.
- Radiologists & Radiology Technicians: Some roles such as consulting radiologist, radiology coding specialist, and radiology transcriptionist are positions that allow for remote work.
- Psychologists and Therapists: These professionals can offer counseling services remotely via phone calls or video conferencing platforms. This includes conducting patient assessments, creating treatment plans, leading therapy sessions, and monitoring patient progress. This practice, known as telepsychology or teletherapy, is an effective way to provide mental health services to individuals who may be unable or unwilling to attend in-person sessions.
- Nutritionists and Dietitians: These experts work closely with patients and medical facilities, curating meal plans and promoting healthy eating habits. Their counseling and advising duties can mostly be performed remotely.
- Healthcare Administrators: Tasked with coordinating various business activities in medical facilities, healthcare administrators’ duties largely involve handling paperwork and can be performed remotely.
- Case Managers: Predominantly responsible for assessing and coordinating treatment needs, case managers can conduct most of their duties, like patient and family interviews, remotely, except for instances requiring home visits.
- Medical Call Answering Agents: Call answering agents handle overflow calls for medical facilities, answering basic patient queries and directing urgent calls to physicians on duty.
- Health Insurance Agents & Representatives: These representatives often handle rule and regulation drafting, claim analyzing and processing, and consultation on healthcare policies. This role can be executed mostly over phones or the internet as most documents are electronically accessible.
- Medical Billers & Coders: Concerned with timely submission of claims to insurance companies, medical billers and coders prepare and review eligibility of patient bills and assign proper diagnoses and procedure codes. This role can be performed entirely remotely.
- Medical Transcriptionists: Tasked with transcribing doctors’ notes and converting them into medical reports, much of a medical transcriptionist’s role involves working with pre-recorded text and doesn’t necessitate being physically present.
- Medical Reviewers: Responsible for auditing medical records for compliance and accuracy, medical reviewers can execute most of their duties remotely given online access to medical resources.
- Pharmacy Consultants: With telepharmacy expanding, many pharmacy consultants and technicians are providing services remotely, advising patients and aiding supervisors digitally.
PatientCalls | Secure Remote Working Solutions for Healthcare Practices
If technology challenges are impeding efficient remote work procedures, contact PatientCalls. We guarantee a streamlined workflow, support for increased call volumes, and rigorous HIPAA compliance. Moreover, with our expedited setup, we ensure your practice can manage the surge in calls seamlessly within hours, benefitting both in-office and remote staff.
- MIT Slone Management Review, Josh Lowy; “Overcoming Remote Work Challenges,” April 2020.
- University of California – Berkeley; “When everyone works remotely, communication and collaboration suffer, study finds,” September 2021.