Patient flow is the path that patients take at your hospital or healthcare facility—from their arrival to their departure. This journey includes a variety of touchpoints and has an impact on the overall experience patients have with your facility.
Optimizing patient flow has a positive effect on your healthcare facility’s success. Studies show that implementing patient-flow strategies can help practices cut costs, increase their capacity, and even boost revenue. As a result, patient satisfaction, engagement, and retention rates also increase.
As a healthcare leader, do you think you may have room for improvement? Read on for a few questions to consider as you analyze your facility’s patient flow.
Does their journey make sense?
In the heat of the moment, patients and family members shouldn’t have to ask around for directions. Signage must be direct and visible. Testing your facility’s mapping may be beneficial. You and your staff are probably too familiar with the hospital, so enlist an outside source. Ask the volunteer to start in the parking lot and then navigate to a specific location. You should test multiple, frequently visited places: check-in, exam rooms, specialty services, bathrooms, etc.
It may be especially helpful to sample a few different age groups to gain accurate feedback. If someone struggles to find a place, you may need to assess additional signage or different wording.
Is your staff matched to your census?
You can collect data through a variety of software and records. Awareness allows you to predict staffing needs, patient volume, and other relevant trends. Becoming aware of these patterns improves your facility’s operating efficiency. Matching staffing to census saves the hospital money by reducing unnecessary personnel and decreasing patient wait time. If you find that you need additional providers, consider reaching out to a reputable staffing company, like Medicus Healthcare Solutions. Enlisting locum tenens providers as supplementary staff could help cover your patient volume and ensure that your patient flow improves.
Are your patients’ paths overlapping?
If patients cross paths with one another while checking in and out, it can cause some bottlenecking. Not only does this cause frustration for patients, it negatively impacts your facility’s process. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider having separate check-in and check-out spaces. Ideally, your practice should have different areas for each appointment type to improve patient flow from the waiting room to the exam room, reducing wait times and improving efficiency.
How about your staff?
Accommodating staff also accommodates patients. By freeing up the traffic pattern, you can increase productivity and eliminate overlap. Consider creating stations for your providers to finalize notes between visits. Then, they don’t have to interrupt their flow by traveling back and forth from an office to exam rooms. Instead, they are empowered to finish notes, view records, and move right on to the next patient.
The hand-off between specialties could cause an interruption in flow as patients change locations. Ideally, you want a smooth transition. Try to limit patients from switching floors, waiting areas, or moving from one room to another.
Can your providers access the supplies they need?
Consider how easy it is to find medical supplies. If your providers have to search around, it slows down the flow of patient interactions. That delay is sure to lead to frustration for providers and patients. If the access to medical supplies is not immediate, find a simple solution: store supplies in a central location, place supplies in each room, or use portable carts. Even if you decide to take a different route, ease of movement for both your providers and patients should be your first consideration. Ultimately, that will increase your practice’s efficiency.
If you are interested in learning more about how securing locum tenens coverage for your facility could assist with patient flow, visit the Medicus Healthcare Solutions website or call 855.301.0563 to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives.