Patient flow may feel as if it is only a major concern for hospitals and health systems, but on a smaller scale, it can be just as impactful to the operation of clinics and private practices. Not only does poor patient flow impede day-to-day operations, but it can also impact your bottom line in a variety of ways — some of which may not even seem directly impacted. If your practice is looking for ways to improve your day-to-day operations and to improve patient experience on the whole, it’s important to look at how you can optimize patient flow.
Understanding Demand Trends
Does it ever feel as if there is zero rhyme or reason to explain the sudden influx of appointment requests? It’s important to match your staff and resources to the demand you experience, but that can be difficult when it seems like your numbers are constantly in flux. Just because your demand feels unpredictable, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s true. One of the most valuable things you can do in terms of optimizing patient flow is to gather data about patient influx in an easily digestible way. This data can help you better gauge staffing and scheduling needs based on the time of day, week, month, and year. The better data you have, the more prepared you can be to handle the ebbs and flows. Compulink Advantage SMART Practice® software offers easy-to-use, integrated data tracking and reports as a part of our comprehensive practice management software because we understand just how valuable that information can be in terms of helping you better plan for ongoing operations.
Track Appointment Scheduling and Cancellations
Appointment cancellations can be a point of serious concern because each canceled appointment represents an unexpected surplus of physicians and staff — which, in essence, means money spent that didn’t need to be. Improved data tracking tools can help you better keep track of how often appointments are canceled. If cancellations are a consistent issue, that data can give you better guidance about whether to double-book appointments or schedule fewer physicians.
Patient Tracking and Workflow Management
Conversely, for many clinics , the opposite is just as much of an issue. Overcrowding can back up providers and cause long waiting times for patients. One of the most valuable tools for a practice is patient tracking and workflow management tools that automatically know where patients are in the office, where they need to go, and where staff and providers need to be. Disorganized handoffs can cause a ripple effect of scheduling and staffing concerns, so it’s important to choose a practice management software that makes it simple to facilitate communication and scheduling. Compulink Advantage SMART Practice® helps you maximize patient volume. Advantage knows which patients are being seen based on their room assignment and automatically displays their record when needed. The system also lets providers and staff know who is waiting, where they need to go next, and keeps them constantly informed for maximum efficiency.
Improve Patient Engagement
How often have you experienced patients calling in and asking to reschedule an appointment because they forgot about it entirely? Another surprisingly simple way to improve patient flow is to put more focus on patient engagement. And, with a great practice management software solution, engaging with patients can be quick and easy, not a time-consuming chore. As we discussed in a previous post, patient engagement can go a long way toward improving each patient’s overall experience and sentiments about your health system. This is why we’ve built an array of patient engagement options into our software.
Automated emails and text message reminders can greatly minimize missed or canceled appointments, thus boosting your overall patient flow. Additional tools like our secure, HIPAA-compliant patient portal and web registration make it easier to collect the information you need from patients before an appointment. This minimizes wait time before appointments and means your physicians and staff can have pre-appointment chart prep much more complete before a patient arrives. The less waiting around a patient has to do, the better your overall patient flow is likely to be. Use our practice management software to send appointment reminders and gather patient information; our patient portal integrates with the other features of our practice management software to benefit both your patients and your physician teams.
Allocate Work Appropriately
For most physicians, the work isn’t done when the clock ticks over to five, or even when they leave the building. There is enough happening during work hours that scheduling, coding and prior-authorization approvals, and other paperwork are relegated to the after-office hours. While some of that computer work needs to be done by the physician, a good portion of it can be allocated to support staff — but many clinics lack the software to facilitate work tasking like that, so physicians end up taking it on themselves.
Front desk staff can take on appointment scheduling, and non-physician staff can communicate with patients about any pre- or post-visit instructions. An EHR company can handle prior-authorization and billing processing. Physicians assistants and nurse practitioners can share the weight of arranging for prescription refills, lab work requests, vaccines, and even quality charting. The better your web of support staff, the less your physicians have to take on and the better patient flow can be. But, of course, it’s more than just having the support staff — it’s also having an efficient, easy-to-use means of delegating tasks. Our practice management software lives up to its name by providing a smarter advantage; we provide AI-powered software that learns your workflow and makes it straightforward to track tasks and delegate them amongst the team. Delegating the workflow appropriately means freeing up physicians’ time and, subsequently, improving patient flow.
Chart Prep, Transfers, and Appointment Pre-Planning
In addition to allocating work better between support staff, a related aspect of improving patient flow is appointment pre-planning and patient transfers. With OneTab™ charting, your physicians can chart in a way that makes sense for their specialty, including viewing radiology results, lab reports, and other documents on the same screen. Our Advantage EHR is fully integrated into our practice management software to provide improved workflow functionality that includes built-in treatment plans, diagnoses with ICD-10 codes, and other specialty-specific charting help. Each team member can even set favorites to help speed up the documentation process.
The medical billing and prior-authorization process can cause a world of headaches — and it can also be a source of surprising fiscal loss when billing isn’t well integrated into the overall workflow. Tracking billing with the appropriate coding and prior-authorizations, means it’s fairly easy for some of that information to slip through the cracks. Streamline your billing processes with practice management software that integrates with our RCM services to enjoy fewer billing issues, a faster process, and a billing process that works for your bottom line.
Practice management software should make the daily workflow better for physicians, staff, and patients alike. See how Compulink Advantage SMART Practice® can help you improve patient flow. Connect with us online or give us a call at 800-456-4522 to start with a demo of our specialty-specific practice management software.