Through years of expert clinical care, physicians have identified and implemented five strategies to help improve patient flow and care quality.
With increased pressure on hospitals to streamline operations and become high-quality, low-cost providers, now is the time to focus on improving patient flow. Optimizing flow is like solving a puzzle — hospitals have to combine different strategies and processes and engage all team members in finding the best fit. The result is an efficient operation that’s conducive to improved clinical outcomes, positive patient experiences, physician satisfaction, improved safety, reduced care costs and more.
At Envision Physician Services, one of the nation’s leading multispecialty medical groups, our clinicians specialize in emergency medicine, hospital medicine, anesthesia, radiology, surgery and women’s and children’s services. We provide an integrated suite of services to hospitals, health systems and payors, one that aims to improve care delivery and enhance the patient experience. We know that poor communication, a lack of alignment and slow throughput can hinder patient flow and overall performance.
Below are five proven strategies our clinical teams have implemented to improve patient throughput and help streamline patient flow:
- Integrate All Departments — A facility is only as strong as its weakest link. While most perceive patient flow as an issue that primarily affects the emergency department (E.D.), it is truly a hospital-wide concern. When one department is not operating optimally, the rest of the facility suffers as well. Often, bottlenecks begin in other departments, such as the intensive care unit, and trickle down to the E.D. As all departments align their goals, each department can focus on providing the best possible care to the patient instead of trying to overcome operational bottlenecks. Learn how our integrated emergency and hospital medicine services helped a Central California hospital reduce readmissions and prevent a potential seven-figure revenue loss.
- Create a Culture of Accountability — Across the facility, everyone must take responsibility for the facility’s successes and mishaps and commit to making a positive change. Hospital leaders should clearly communicate expectations and hold all team members to a high standard. In addition to encouraging providers and staff members to participate in the strategic process, we ask them to be a part of the solution. For example, a physician and an advanced practice provider (APP) in our East Region developed a program that enables APPs to practice at the top of their licenses and become expert emergency caregivers. The program has alleviated some of the pressure on physicians and contributed to a more positive and collaborative care environment. Learn how strong leadership improved patient experience and volume surge at a Los Alamitos E.D.
- Explore Different Staffing Models — Several factors, including a facility’s geographic location and budget, can make it difficult to determine how best to staff a facility. Attracting physicians tends to be a greater challenge in rural settings. However, when APPs are adept at performing many of the same procedures as physicians, such as intubations and central lines, they can support physicians and help ensure patients receive timely care. Similarly, the use of scribes significantly improves the amount of contact time physicians have with patients. With less time spent on record keeping and administrative tasks, physicians can reduce wait times and focus on patients, driving both efficiency and patient experience scores. See how a team-based approach and proactive training measures improved patient satisfaction scores while boosting throughput and sepsis response metrics at a Houston-area facility.
- Recognize the Importance of Hospital Medicine — Flow optimization is about handoffs and processes. In an integrated system, the hospitalists are like quarterbacks. They communicate care needs, facilitate smooth transitions and make sure patients are connected with the right provider at the right time and with the right resources. Experience has proven that when hospital medicine and emergency medicine physicians align their processes and goals, hospitals operate much more efficiently. See how aligning E.D. physicians’ and hospitalists’ goals improved communication and throughput at a rural community hospital in Texas.
- Use Technology to Enhance Care — Telemedicine is a great resource, especially for small and rural hospitals. Instead of waiting for a specialist to arrive at the hospital, physicians can receive real-time assistance from a specialist and prevent care delays. Our proprietary Connect telemedicine platform bundles robust and precise case routing software with the collective clinical knowledge of our national network of subspecialists to ensure that each case is read by the most qualified radiologist. With its refined quality assurance tools, the Connect platform increases the accuracy of final reads with shorter turnaround times (TAT), boosting throughput and patient satisfaction. Learn how one community hospital improved TAT and simplified Joint Commission inspections with our distributed radiology model.
Ultimately, optimizing flow is about improving all quality dimensions of care delivery. With integrated care models, departments communicate effectively, team members are engaged and goals are aligned, creating more visibility and collaboration within the hospital. As operations run more efficiently, patients and caregivers will have a more positive care experience, and the facility will see improvements in revenue. Contact us today to learn more.