hospital administrator sending and receiving package

Shipping and Mailing | Pitney Bowes

3 Factors Shaping Sending and Receiving in Hospitals

Sending and receiving operations in hospitals are often inefficient and costly, as we explained in part one of this healthcare-focused series.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three ways hospitals can gain visibility into the challenges and take control over their sending processes.

Organization

Hospital sending and receiving operations tend to be disorganized. At many hospitals, anyone is allowed to ship anything, using any carrier service they’d like, at any cost. Not only is this bad for overall efficiency, but it also likely leads hospitals to spend more on shipping and mailing than necessary.

Disorganization can also lead to costly mistakes. When sensitive patient information is mishandled, hospitals are at risk of violating HIPAA. Depending on the mailing, compliance may require coordinating things like delivery time, return receipts or trackability. And with the fines for HIPAA violations ranging from $100 to $1.5 million, hospitals can’t afford to be disorganized.

So, what’s the best way forward? Hospitals can get organized by establishing a process and centralizing control of all sending and receiving operations.

Ship request forms help streamline the process, ensuring compliance and delivering greater efficiency. Whenever anyone wants to ship a package, they fill out a simple form with information about the package, recipients, preferred delivery time, and deliver that form and package to a designated sender electronically.

Ship request forms, with one point of contact, give the hospital full visibility into what they’re sending, where they’re sending, and how. This workflow also centralizes the process within your organization, where a package can be properly weighed and measured to ensure accuracy and avoid carrier billing adjustments and added fees.

Mail Service Selection

Hospitals tend to rely heavily on Certified Mail® for their sending needs. Certified Mail provides visibility and accountability when sending critical patient and legal documents. Traditionally, sending via Certified Mail has been a time-consuming process requiring paper “green cards.” Those cards, which provided proof of receipt, were easy to misplace, either during the mailing or filing process.

The good news is, the process has since improved from the “green card” days – senders can now send Certified Mail with electronic return receipts (ERRs), an easier and more efficient process. ERRs allow senders to receive electronic signatures for proof of receipt and receive $1.20 savings per mail piece sent with ERR – which quickly adds up to big savings.

Besides Certified Mail, there are additional efficient ways to send. Depending on the preferred delivery time, tracking needs, weight and contents of the package, there may be better service options. So, how do you select the best sending method? Hospitals can partner with trusted shipping and mailing vendors to get help choosing the right shipping and mail service for each mailing, gaining savings in the process.

Chain of Custody

There are a number of moving parts within each hospital itself, but also throughout the larger hospital network. Keeping better track of everything can help improve efficiency and minimize spend.

Documentation like patient health records and lab results needs to be tracked closely – especially where sensitive data is involved. A clear chain of custody helps hospitals’ inbound receivables and ensure everything reaches its intended recipient in a timely fashion.

Hospitals also need to keep track of pharmaceuticals, both within the hospital and other drug shipments. Shipments often require special care. Some medications may need to be shipped at a certain temperature, need to arrive urgently, and all need to be delivered to the correct destination. When pharmaceutical shipments are lost somewhere within the hospital network, that’s a drain on hospital resources, and could also endanger patient lives. Better visibility into the chain of custody can help hospitals minimize spend, waste and error.

There are also chain of custody issues when it comes to hospital assets like beds and IV poles. Medical equipment in hospitals is largely mobile. Hospitals need to keep track of where assets are at all times, so clinicians spend less time searching for equipment and more time devoted to patient care. Inbound tracking solutions often allow for asset tracking as well. This type of solution will automate and streamline the care and tracking of these valuable devices throughout your organization.

Sending and receiving operations in hospitals are complicated. To learn more about how to solve these challenges, read our eBook, “Rethinking the way hospitals send and receive: How to solve the biggest pain points of sending and receiving packages and mail in hospitals.”