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Hospital Patient Flow Best Practices | Patient Flow Optimization

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    Posted in Healthcare Software

    Last Updated | November 11, 2021

    Overview: Understanding Patient Flow in Hospitals Using Custom PMS

    In essence, patient flow is the movement of patients through a healthcare facility. It involves the medical care, physical resources, and internal systems needed to get patients from the time they are admitted to a healthcare facility to the time when they are discharged. However, due to unpredictable waits, delays, cancellations, overcrowded departments, and poor handovers, smooth and timely flow of patients through hospital departments becomes quite a challenge. Many healthcare facilities are investing time and efforts in optimizing patient flow to improve patient safety and quality of care. The focus is on minimizing waits for inpatient admission through emergency departments, speeding up patient transfer from the ICU to the post anaesthesia care unit. This helps in improving flow from the inpatient setting to long-term care facilities, and decreasing cycle time and increasing patient throughput.

    This is where a custom practice management system will enable your organization to find efficiency, accuracy and peace-of-mind when it comes to improved patient flow. By providing a comprehensive software solution for the coordination and management of all organizational tasks within a healthcare clinic, a quality PMS will empower your organization to streamline scheduling, billing, and intake processes so that your team performs efficiently without any added stress.

    Having an organized patient intake flow translates into a serene, orderly waiting room. A PMS enables immediate record transfers, enhances patient workflow and eliminates treatment errors that stem from incomplete paper records. The patient management software is the key to delivering timely, accurate and better-quality patient care. Everything from automating the scheduling of patients through an electronic calendar to eliminating the need to perform repetitive administrative tasks, the ability to track, store and access patients’ electronic medical records, to streamlining remote patient care, a PMS creates a patient flow where people can move through their care pathways without being needlessly slowed down or rushed through.

    Optimizing Patient Flow in Hospitals Using Practice Management Software

    Automated Care Coordination

    Many of the practices involved in patient care are needlessly time-consuming, but a patient management software can improve efficiency. For instance, phone calls and emails used to be the main mode of communication between doctors and patients, but too many no-shows, call drops and scheduling can lead to unnecessary delays and missed appointments. However, the patient portal of a patient management system can help to automate communication and boost patient satisfaction manifolds.

    Patient portals allow patients to book their own appointments online, as well as cancel and reschedule appointments in the system. A PMS also sends automated appointment reminders via email, text or phone call, to avoid no-shows or delayed visits. At the time of appointment scheduling, the system can even reserve the corresponding equipment and space, as well as the physicians and staff required for the appointment, in order to avoid any unprecedented delays in patient care.

    A patient portal also helps to automate Care practices such as patient education, dietary or medication reminders, forms and questionnaires collection, and patient reporting and appointment scheduling. This not saves tons of time but also improve efficiency and improve patient flow.

    Streamlining Patient Encounters

    A full integrated PMS even includes functionality for tracking and managing the patient encounter even before a patient has set foot inside the healthcare facility.  For instance, consider the number of steps in the registration process as patients check-in and think about how long each step usually takes. However, with a PMS in place, patient check-in forms can be filled out on the patient portal prior to their visit. This can significantly reduce wait times and makes sure that patients are delivered instant care. A Patient management solution even monitors exam room availability, as well as tracks the progress of each exam.

    Post-appointment, A PMS can easily automate the checkout process, such as patient follow-up appointment scheduling, and coordination with pharmacies. Automation and self-reporting alleviates healthcare staff from repetitive administrative tasks that could otherwise be spent in devising patient management strategies. Doctors can even check the OT availability with the online patient management system, allowing them to automate operation scheduling and make use of Operation theatres efficiently.

    Real-Time Location Tracking

    Real-time location tracking systems improve patient flow by tracking patients, assets, and staff members by deploying tags on people or things being tracked. These tags can then be read by transceivers and their location is displayed across screens, known as “electronic white boards”. The purpose of real-time location tracking is to track patient location, time, and characteristics, as well as status so that this information can be shared with the patient management system for better scheduling. This data facilitates decision-making regarding placement and patient admissions. Since patients can be located anywhere within the facility, doctors and staff can track down patients who may have ended up in another department for tests or imagine or gone for a walk. The ability to track assets also improve care time since nurses no longer need to look up equipment required for delivering care, or the equipment needed for patient discharge, such as wheelchairs or portable IV pumps. After all, nurses spend 40% of their time managing supplies and tracking down equipment.

    Hospital Throughput Best Practices With Practice Management Software?

    Patient throughput allows for the efficient flow of patients through the hospital, ensuring timely and appropriate level of care. Hospitals that invest efforts in improving patient throughput report better quality patient care, patient satisfaction, as well as a positive financial impact, in addition to reduced wait times and decreased costs. Here are tips for improving patient flow with a Practice management system:

    Streamline Cycle Times

    Cycle is the time taken for any process to occur. For example, how much time it took for a patient to be registered or discharged from the hospital. On average, patients have to wait for at least half an hour before they are admitted into the emergency department (ED), while it may take over two hours for them to leave the hospital after being discharged. Increasing throughput is all about decreasing cycle times, thus alleviating the burden on the healthcare system. One of the best ways to measure cycle times is to use real-time location tracking to gather data on patient throughput automatically. Real-time tracking allows hospitals to follow a patient at every step of their journey and identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies along the way. The system may recognize the rush hours in the ED, for instance, and schedule staff accordingly, or use asset tracking to display the exact location and condition of critical resources to avoid time looking them up.

    Integration with EHR

    According to a research, automatic transmission of vital sign data into the EHR saved up to 14 minutes per clinician per vitals round, as well as resulted in 82% efficiency gained in charting patient vitals. Through an easy-to-use intuitive patient dashboard, healthcare providers get quick access to medical details and history of each patient, view key vital trends, treatment plans and test reports, which helps in making critical treatment decisions, as well as alleviates the patients from having to retell their medical history. Integration with EHR allows doctors to take notes and documentations directly on the PMS throughout the patient care. Since all the data gets documented electronically, it can be retrieved when required.

    Simplify Billing

    Payment and billing can take up a lot of time and may impact throughput. A PMS’s robust billing module handles many patients efficiently by minimizing delays and reducing the time taken to settle the bill. An efficient PMS helps generate billing receipts and process online payments from the patients, thus reducing the margin for error and also helping in reimbursements.

    Why Practice Management Software Is The Best Patient Flow Solution?

    The patient flow is a complex journey, involving many steps, processes, stakeholders, and functions. This is where an efficient patient management software will help you increase your bottom-line and improve patient flow. A cutting-edge PMS will promote cross-hospital transparency, overviews and information-sharing, helping staff handle peaks in patient volumes, bed shortages, and the constant changes inherent to most hospitals. A state-of-the-art PMS ensures complete coordination, collaboration, and communication in and across departments, optimizing processes and enabling healthcare professionals to deliver the best possible care for patients. The key role of a PMS is to take the patient safely and efficiently through the care pathway, ensuring high quality care and utmost patient satisfaction.

    A practice management software helps you improve patient flow by managing the registration process effectively. A PMS facilitates commination across departments and easily manages patient “handoffs” to Outpatient Services. Minimize wait time, say goodbye to patient misplacement or oversights, and monitor lobby and departmental waiting queues. Manage room usage by identifying those rooms which are under/over utilized. With live data on each stage of care, you can identify bottlenecks before they create delays. Real-time data and reports give you objective before-and-after data needed to continually make and measure process improvements.

    Improve Patient Flow In The Clinic By Practice Management Software

    Patient registrations are quite laborious and time-intensive. Clinics also have to hire a considerable number of people just to handle the registration process. On the other hand, PMS have patient portals where people can access information and book appointments. Gather all the vital information online to save the time otherwise spent on filling forms. Collecting information from patients digitally also reduced margin for errors.

    A PMS also enhances patient throughput in clinics by facilitating communication between different departments a patient may have to see. For instance, a patient may see a doctor and then end up in the X-ray room, then visit the doctor again and then goes to the lab for some final blood work. Finally, he receives a prescription and heads to the pharmacy to get the required medicines. In this entire process, each department needs to have complete information about the patient so that the required services may be given. This is where a PMS helps. Through EMR/EHR integration, a PMS incorporates updated information about each patient interaction, which can be accessed by every department a patient comes into contact with.

    Last but not the least, a PMS can help you schedule smartly to reduce waiting times and prevent delays in care delivery. For instance, since a PMS gives you a complete picture about the availability of doctors, exam rooms, and staff to handle the duties, you will be better able to schedule patients and procedures based on your capability. Scheduling patients according to availability prevents long waiting lines and frustrated patients.

    Patient Flow Analysis In The Hospital and Practice Management Software

    Patient flow analysis provides helpful insights, so managers can make decisions that improve patient care, support staff and increase overall efficiency. For instance, using data to predict arrival patterns helps you schedule smartly. A PMS will offer you a treasure trove of important data to discern patterns and trends in your healthcare facility. For instance, EDs are the busiest on Mondays across the USA and most people wish to visit the ER in the evenings. In the same way, you can analyse data and predict the probable busiest periods for your healthcare facility.  Using this data, you will be better able to plan staffing and other resources to meet the increased demand without increased waiting times.


    How to improve patient flow in emergency departments?

    Many facilities continue to triage patients upon arrival, even with the availability of beds. The triage process should be eliminated if space is available for a patient to be admitted. Patients should be immediately admitted, speeding up care delivery. Secondly, moving laboratory standard testing into the ED could increase the speed of diagnosis. This is because Point-of-care testing (POCT) provides clinicians with rapid results for commonly ordered investigations rather than a third-party laboratory.

    How to improve patient flow in dental clinics?

    As surprising as it may seem, the layout of your dental practice impacts patient flow.  Make sure that your reception desk is near the entrance of the practice. From the waiting room, patients should be able to head directly to cleaning rooms, without roaming here and there. Secondly, an EHR can help both you and your team with record keeping, insurance checks, and other tasks throughout the day as they come up.

    Can EHR help improve patient flow in hospitals?

    Yes, EHR has proven to improve patient flow in hospitals through effective diagnoses and reduced chances of errors. However, to yield the best outcome, healthcare UX/UI needs to be on point. This is because a well-built user interface allows better handling for doctors.

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