Introducing Dr. Benton, President & CEO of Hospice Savannah

Our Customer Spotlight series focuses on the digital superstars who are successfully transforming how business gets done. For this spotlight, we’re pleased to introduce you to Dr. Kathleen Benton from Hospice Savannah.

Hospice Savannah was founded by the community in 1979 and offers a continuum of care—from palliative and hospice care to bereavement support for patients’ loved ones.

It’s the only hospice in the coastal city to be accredited by the Joint Commission, the nation's most prestigious accrediting board.

Meet Dr. Benton

Dr. Kathleen Benton

Dr. Benton’s connection to Hospice Savannah dates back to 2010 when she became a member of the Board of Directors. An international speaker, she’s authored many reviews, articles and the book The Skill of End-of-Life Communication for Clinicians; Getting to the Root of the Ethical Dilemma—which offers insight into the skill of communicating in complex and emotionally charged discussions.

We talked to Dr. Benton about technology in healthcare, its impact on the patient experience and the role Docusign eSignature played in helping the hospice get a successful vaccination clinic up and running in just days.

Going back in time when you became CEO of Hospice Savannah: What was the driving force behind implementing Docusign?

We wanted to use the efficiency that Docusign provides so that we can speed access to care. We can’t do anything without a signed consent—so If, for example, we had a patient who was very ill—possibly with dementia—and we needed a signature from a brother who lives several states away in snowy Indiana, it might have been days before he was able to get to the UPS store or local library to send the form back. Docusign solved that problem for us.

In what ways has using Docusign helped you to improve the patient experience?

It’s helped us speed up the paperwork process—all of the manual work that we've done for years—so that we can have more meaningful face-to-face time with patients. 

What has the staff response been like—transitioning to electronic signature?

Initially, there was some resistance—as can be expected with anything that involves change. All it took was for them to use Docusign with one family to see how much easier everything has become.

Fast forward to the pandemic: What inspired Hospice Savannah to launch a community vaccination site?

I saw the way other clinics were being run: There was lots of manual data entry and little interaction with patients. We’ve got to get people vaccinated and safe and we saw that as something we could accomplish, so we joined with the Department of Public Health in offering this clinic. 

How long did it take to get the clinic set up?

Since we were already “well-oiled” with Docusign, it took about a week. We created the form we wanted—and then the bigger task was getting Docusign to talk to GRITS (the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services).

How did Docusign help streamline operations?

We had QR codes set up, linking patients to the form on their mobile device. We also had staff with iPads, going down the line and guiding patients through the questions. Once a form was submitted, a nurse would get an alert from the Docusign app, make sure the patient met all of the criteria, and call the patient in to administer the vaccine. At the end of the clinic, all of that data we collected in line was batch uploaded into Docusign. It took about 30 minutes and it was done. After the shot, we gave them some cookies and water, made sure they were doing okay and helped them plan their second shot.

I’m curious about your thoughts on the post-COVID world. What is the value of not going back to the way things were and really embracing this new way of doing things?

Number one: Patient protection and privacy should always be at the forefront. We cannot forgo the importance of privacy—and having a closed document system where everything is secure in the network. Also, COVID is not over, and people in healthcare are very, very slammed. So, while going back to the old way might feel like the less- expensive road, it’s extremely costly in other ways. The other thing is time. We need to improve time with patients. Research shows that spending just an extra three to four minutes in a patient’s room can change the entire picture of what they tell the physician because it’s in that extra time—those pregnant pauses—that the truth is revealed.

Read more about how Hospice Savannah used Docusign to improve time with patients and quickly launch a successful vaccination clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic.