Is your healthcare facility receiving complaints because of slow service? Do you find the lobby overcrowded while consultation rooms remain empty? If you are observing these situations in your clinic or hospital, you may be having problems with patient flow.
What is Patient Flow?
Overcrowding is a problem for many medical facilities, especially in the emergency department. The situation can cost a life because of traffic delays, unavailability of staff, and poorly managed patient care system. Regardless of the size of the facility, poor scheduling, admissions, transfers, and discharges can increase readmissions and mortality rates.
A common patient flow issue is scheduling. For example, the majority of surgeries might be scheduled at the start of the week to give admitted patients more time to recover. But by doing so, post-operative rooms can become overcrowded, impacting facility use and staff support.
Another example is disorganized handoffs. Sometimes, even referrals to other departments within the same facility can be inconvenient if there is no central repository of patient records. Records should always be updated and contain all the details that other doctors may possibly need.
Many healthcare facilities are aware of issues with patient flow and are taking the necessary measures to improve the overall process. Ideas to increase patient volume at a clinic will come naturally to hospital leaders if the patient throughput is given attention first.
Patient Flow Problem
A muster point can help your employees safely exit risky premises during an emergency evacuation. By having a designated place to gather, everyone will be in the same location and easier to account for. This can help emergency responders as they work to evacuate the site and ensure everyone is safe.
A muster area also provides a central location for company leadership to assess the situation and direct employees as they return to work. Having a clear plan for returning to operations will help you get back up and running as quickly as possible.
6 Hospital Management Tips To Improve Patient Flow
Create an online registration portal
Patient registration takes up a lot of time and resources in clinics. Not only do they hamper patient flow but also keep personnel occupied to attend to more urgent needs.
A simple hospital management tip is to create a registration portal that patients can access online. Many clinics now have apps that can help in requesting doctor appointments and scheduling consultations. Online platforms like this can help shorten queues, hasten the registration process, and manage the influx of patients better.
While it can be challenging to completely eliminate the use of pen and pencil in the registration process, utilizing an online channel can greatly improve the health system in the facility. Putting up kiosks for online registration is one of the ideas to increase patient volume at a clinic.
Improve collaboration between departments
Patients do not just stay in one place whenever they are in a medical facility. Doctors may request them to get an X-Ray or CT scan, have them checked first in the cardiology or pulmonology department before a surgery, or ask them to visit the pharmacy to pick up medicines. Each of these departments should have complete and updated information on the patient, including their medical history and the services received in the facility.
By utilizing a centralized patient database, the collaboration between departments will become seamless and more efficient. A healthcare CRM can help automate data collection and analysis to save time and deliver appropriate medical services.
Teach the staff about time management
Healthcare professionals should be experts at time management. They should know how to establish goals, prioritize, take advantage of technology, and delegate tasks to make sure all the needs of patients undergoing elective procedures and emergency operations are attended to on time. Holding training sessions or having the staff attend seminars on communication, organization, scheduling, and empowerment can help improve their time management skills.
Schedule appointments according to capacity
One of the hospital management tips that seem like a no-brainer but is often forgotten is smart scheduling. In scheduling consultations, it is not only the capacity of the facility that should be considered but also the procedures needed by the patient. The availability of doctors, staff, equipment, and rooms must also be accounted for. Going further, the schedule of other patients can also be taken into consideration to determine the best time to accommodate them.
You do not want to see patients waiting for hours just to get their turn. They already need medical attention and making them stressed and frustrated will definitely lead to dissatisfaction. By smartly scheduling appointments, you can greatly reduce waiting times and make the patient flow frictionless.
Direct traffic flow
The layout of the hospital should make it easy for patients and staff to locate where they need to go. They should never guess or think about where they are supposed to be. From the parking area and the lobby to the examination rooms and cashier, the entire process should be clear and unambiguous.
Late and missed appointments because patients keep getting lost in the facility impedes productivity. When this happens, the next in line will also be affected because of the delays caused by the previous patient, causing a domino effect that affects patient throughput.
Whether it is a large medical facility or a small clinic, placing easy-to-read signage helps everyone find their way to where they need to be. This reduces the need to ask for directions and avoid creating unnecessary traffic in specific areas.
Identify facility bottlenecks
To identify bottlenecks and measure patient flow performance of the facility, the following questions can be used as a guide:
Answering these questions will lead to problem identification. From there, goals can be set and appropriate changes can be made.
One way to gather accurate patient flow information is by adopting a real-time location system (RTLS). The tags used in an RTLS can be attached to medical equipment or given to staff and patients. Using the technology, real-time data on which areas are frequented and the equipment often used can be identified for further analysis.
Aside from location, cycle time can also be measured using the RTLS. The duration that the staff spends engaging in equipment and the time it takes for a patient to register, receive treatment, and get discharged from the facility can all be measured.
Litum is a leading RTLS provider for healthcare services and more. Our RTLS patient tracking system helps automate notifications and tracking for a more seamless service delivery. It is a dependable, data-driven technology that automates alerts for emergencies and tracks patient movements in real-time, allowing for quick and timely reactions.
Have you tried implementing these hospital management tips in your facility? What can you add to our list to optimize patient flow and move forward with healthcare improvement? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.