Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 12, 2021

5 Ways to Optimize Patient Flow

Patient flow is the movement of patients in, around, and out of a healthcare facility, and when patient flow isn't optimized, there can be some serious repercussions, like adverse patient outcomes and increased readmission rates. Some of the most common patient flow issues include crowded emergency and waiting rooms at hospitals, overbooked surgical departments, and increased costs for paying staff to stay late. However, here are five solutions you can employ in your healthcare facility to optimize patient flow.

1. Address Bottlenecks

First, analyze the current patient flow patterns in your facility and identify where you could reduce delays and overcrowding. Patient flow software can help you track when patients come in, which doctors and departments they see while they're there, and when they are discharged.

Consider employing effective patient profiles to better project likely patient flow routes based on care needs. Adopt a simpler scheduling process where primary care providers can communicate with specialists to diagnose and treat patients instead of having patients wait for appointments.

2. Use Predictive Staff Modeling

Predictive staff modeling helps with optimizing patient flow by developing an efficient patient transportation system specific to your facility's needs. Use the data you collected on bottlenecks and collect more data on staffing needs, shortages, and delays. Compare how many patients need to be transported around the facility throughout the day and create staff schedules that reflect those needs.

3. Improve Your Facility's Layout

If you're not opening a brand-new facility or building, make layout changes, like dedicating certain spaces for concierge services to help patients and their loved ones find the department they need to be in. Consider updating signage throughout the facility with digital screens. For a new facility, use patient flow data from other facilities in your system to create an optimized layout that keeps patients moving throughout the facility during their visits.

4. Adjust Schedules for Surgical Procedures and Patient Discharges

While emergency procedures can't be adjusted, you can create an elective surgery schedule that spreads out elective surgeries throughout the week. This can reduce the likelihood of your postoperative departments reaching capacity, which can often happen with block scheduling. In addition, consider establishing patient discharge schedules that get patients who are ready to leave the facility out during the morning. This can free up beds for new patients coming in during the day.

5. Hire Patient Transport Specialists

Your clinical staff have to juggle many different clinical, patient care, and administrative duties during a shift. That sometimes includes moving patients to a different area of the hospital. However, this can take clinical staff away from their primary duties and prevent them from helping as many patients as possible. Hiring specialized patient transportation professionals ensures patients get where they need to be and clinical staff can stay as effective and efficient in their patient care without compromising any patient's comfort, safety, or health.

When your facility has optimal patient flow, your staff can more efficiently treat patients, which can improve patient experiences and your facility's reputation for fast and effective care. Better patient flow can also reduce the likelihood of delays during emergencies, and that can better ensure the safety of everyone in the facility.

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