Creating Efficiency in the Patient Journey

Creating Efficiency in the Patient Journey
Author Information (click to view)

LouAnn Bala, MSN, RN

VP Service Excellence
Centralized Services and Clinical Support
GetWellNetwork

LouAnn Bala, MSN, RN, has indicated to Physician’s Weekly that she has no financial interests to disclose.

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LouAnn Bala, MSN, RN (click to view)

LouAnn Bala, MSN, RN

VP Service Excellence
Centralized Services and Clinical Support
GetWellNetwork

LouAnn Bala, MSN, RN, has indicated to Physician’s Weekly that she has no financial interests to disclose.

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The transformation to value-based care has placed tremendous focus on delivery of care as it relates to improving patient outcomes, quality, and safety. And for good reason; improved discharge protocols and transition care management can reduce costly adverse outcomes, such as 30-day readmissions and hospital-acquired infections.

However, few healthcare organizations have focused on creating efficiency along the patient journey. For instance, the vast majority of physician offices, urgent care clinics, and retail clinics still use cumbersome, paper-based intake methods and still primarily schedule appointments by phone. The delays and errors inherent in these legacy approaches are frustrating for both patients and staff, and they frequently result in avoidable productivity and revenue losses, as well as patient satisfaction issues.

Some forward-thinking convenient care and urgent care clinics, as well as healthcare systems, have taken on the challenge to improve the patient journey by implementing a variety of automated processes, including digital registration and check-in via mobile tablets and onsite computer kiosks.

 

Healthcare Organizations Leading the Pack 

Healthcare organizations, large and small, are already realizing tangible benefits from employing new technologies and processes to streamline patient registration and check-in for better accuracy, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Here are three who are leading the pack:
CareWell Urgent Care

This group of 17 high-volume urgent care clinics throughout New England faced a challenge with paper registration. Since a majority of its patients were walk-ins, the check-in process often got bogged down. Many were visiting a CareWell clinic for the first time and had no patient data on file, which required patients to fill out lengthy registration forms, further slowing down the intake process.

Shortly after CareWell adopted a new electronic health record (EHR) system, the company also implemented a digital registration system using mobile tablets. This solution saved both patient and staff time by speeding up registration and eliminating the need for staff data entry. Integration with the EHR system further enhanced the process by eliminating redundancy in data collection processes.

After CareWell introduced electronic registration, its average door-to-door time dropped from 77 minutes to 44 minutes. Average check-in time fell to from 10 minutes to 4 minutes, and the clinics’ patient satisfaction scores increased. Creating efficiency within the registration process allowed more patients to be seen daily by the same number of providers.

 

Imaging for Women

This Kansas City-based, stand-alone imaging center focuses on providing a superior patient experience at a much lower cost than a hospital-based women’s imaging center. All patients receive their imaging test results before they leave the facility.

Due to growing volume, the center was struggling with frequent bottlenecks at check-in. Many patients were forced to stand in line for 10 minutes or longer. To alleviate the constraints, the imaging center launched a digital registration solution. Incoming patients filled out their registration forms on iPads, accelerating and standardizing the process while increasing the accuracy of the data collected.

Patient wait times declined by 5 to 8 minutes. The application also saved 3 to 4 hours of staff time per month, and the number of receptionists was reduced from four to three, freeing up an employee to do other work. In addition, fewer typos and other errors were made when patients updated their own data, improving the overall accuracy of the EHRs.

National Retail Clinic

A leading national retail clinic has been using online scheduling and digital registration since August 2016. The online appointment system enables customers to schedule same-day or next-day appointments from a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile devices. Instead of being placed in a queue for appointments, these patients can pick specific time slots that are convenient for them.

The online scheduling system allows patients to enter demographic data and answer a brief set of questions to determine the reason for their visit. The tablet application also supports the clinic’s ability to deliver targeted marketing messages to patients about other products available.

A survey of 21,000 of the chain’s customers revealed that customers preferred tablet registration to the previous paper intake method. The majority of respondents said they’d like to pre-register via computer or mobile device prior to arriving on site. Customers indicated iPad registration forms were quick and easy to use. When clinic staff members were asked if they would recommend the product to a friend or colleague, the average response was 9.7 on a scale of 10.

 

The Takeaway

By implementing digital registration and online scheduling applications, ambulatory care providers can immediately improve the patient experience and achieve a significant return on investment. This return comes both from increasing the productivity of providers and staff members and hard savings such as lower paper and ink costs. Furthermore, operational efficiencies garnered from tools such as these can enrich the quality of data collected, reduce errors by eliminating redundant processes, and improve access to healthcare, all while maximizing revenue.

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