5 Strategies to Improve Patient Flow in Specialties

A receptionist welcomes satisfied patients to a nearly-empty waiting room thanks to smooth patient flow in specialties.

Streamlined patient flow in specialties is essential to the success of any medical group practice. When it comes to patient satisfaction, the care of doctors, nurses, and medical staff isn’t typically a cause for complaint. Rather, it’s patient pipeline flow. Patient grievances range from long wait times and poor patient navigation to lack of patient enablement and short face-time with doctors. 

Today’s patients want a streamlined process that results in a more positive overall experience. Beyond positive experiences, medical practices that improve patient flow in these specialties can increase surgical volume, grow their business, and set them apart from the competition.

Key Takeaways

  • Patient flow in medical practices encompasses every touchpoint you have with your patients, from marketing efforts to long-term recovery.
  • Improving patient flow yields numerous benefits that result in the health of your patients, your staff, and your business.
  • Medical groups can improve efficiency and effectiveness by implementing five simple strategies.

What is Patient Flow and Why is It Important?

Patient flow refers to a patient’s journey through a healthcare system. It involves every touchpoint of their experience, from their first contact with the office through all necessary follow-up during

Image Source httpswwwresearchgatenetpublication228971295 Modeling and Simulation of Patient Flow in Hospitals for Resource Utilization

their recovery. A smooth patient flow strategy ensures that patients travel through the medical process in a manner that not only prioritizes quality of care, but also improves the overall patient experience.

The impact of effective patient flow is far-reaching. A facility that optimizes patient flow strategies can expect to see:

  • Shorter wait times: A streamlined process funnels people through their journey more effectively and efficiently. This reduces waiting room back-up and connects people with their doctor sooner.
  • Higher quality patient care: Avoiding overcrowded and overstressed departments reduces poor handoffs and care delivery delays. Staff can give patients the focused attention they need and deserve.
  • Lower costs to the facility: A practice that manages patient intake and checkout processes more efficiently doesn’t experience overcrowding and strained resources. They don’t need to hire more staff to help with patient management, and they don’t need to add on to their facility to hold more people in the waiting room.
  • Higher productivity: A smooth patient flow improves practice efficiency. The more quickly and effectively you can move people through their appointments and the key steps between appointments,, the more often you can operate at full capacity. This helps to increase patient volume and generate more revenue. Efficiency also empowers your practice to be more agile and better equipped to handle fluctuations in demand.

This all leads to patient satisfaction, which helps you earn patient loyalty and higher retention rates. Not only will satisfied patients continue to return for their medical needs, but they’re also likely to recommend you to their own contacts. Since 90% of people trust friends’ recommendations, this helps to grow your business and generate more revenue. Improving patient flow in specialties is important for the health of your staff, your patients, and your practice.

5 Ways to Improve Patient Flow in Specialties

A streamlined patient flow is a key to the success of your medical group. Here are 5 ways to improve patient flow in specialties for overall success.

1. Automated Guided Patient Workflow

Many medical office processes are handled manually, which takes time and effort and allows for operator error. By incorporating an automated guided patient workflow  (care automation), you can

A chart showing how long wait times can negatively impact retention rates.
Image Source httpswwwsoftwareadvicecomresourcesreducing patient wait times

reduce the amount of work for your staff members. Time saved on inputting data or maintaining lists and tasks by hand can be reallocated toward more care-related activities.. 

Automation software provides guidance and sends reminders to patients so they can complete essential tasks (education, assessment forms, etc) in a timely fashion. Instructions, content, timelines, and next steps are all handled by the automation software. Care automation allows your staff to see the progress of the patients, identify those who are off-track, and intervene with those who need staff assistance, as opposed to engaging every patient in the pipeline. .

2. Give Clear Directions

Medical facilities can be difficult to navigate, especially for first-time patients. Post clear, prominent signage that guides people through their visit. Use arrows to point the way, and make sure hallways and wings are clearly labeled. If the facility is large enough, consider offering a mobile app that guides people to the right location. When a patient walks through the door, they’ll not only feel more at ease, but they’ll be able to reach their destination more quickly and refrain from delaying other appointments.

3. Streamline Your Layout

Efficiency begins the moment a patient walks through the door. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine every step of their journey. Is your facility laid out in the most sensible, convenient way to ensure a positive patient experience? Configure waiting rooms in a way that makes sense for traffic flow. 

Do people have to cross paths to get where they’re going? Is there a shorter route to get them to their destination? Even something as simple as the location of a chair can impact the efficiency of your operations.

The following video explores three things to consider when designing an optimal medical office layout:

4. Provide Staff Training

Improving patient flow is the responsibility of every staff member at all levels. For streamlined processes to work, every individual must know the plan and commit to it. Train staff members in time management, efficiency, and technology that might help with these goals. Hold regular meetings to keep people informed and efforts aligned. Invite people to share their input about what is and isn’t working.  Ensure you have quality metrics available to reinforce your commitment.

Transparency and collaboration let people know where things are in the pipeline and contribute to efficiency. This kind of teamwork is essential to the success of adopting patient flow improvements. 

5. Reduce Waste

We often do things simply because that’s how they’ve always been done. To gain a clear understanding about areas of improvement, it’s important to first assess your current operations. Sometimes this is best done by a third party who isn’t familiar with your daily routine. 

The goal is to find pitfalls and disconnects where improvements could be made. Only then can you begin to reduce waste within your processes. You may discover unnecessary extra steps, opportunities to combine efforts, or other methods to reduce wait times, provide better quality care, and increase patient satisfaction.  A well-designed care automation solution will help you pinpoint operational opportunities for improvement through its analytical capabilities. 

Streamline Your Processes

Wellbe provides hospitals and medical groups with digital solutions to engage and connect with patients. Our foundational programs can be implemented quickly to save you time and money while providing you with tools, customized to your practice, to boost patient satisfaction. From sports medicine to bariatric journey improvement, Wellbe can meet your specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more about streamlining your processes for patient satisfaction.

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