Optimizing Patient Flow
Smooth and effective patient flow in an urgent care center (UCC) can help to avoid delays, reduce wait times, and improve the overall patient experience. It is key to increasing revenue and improving efficiency. Careful attention should be paid to how a patient moves seamlessly from check-in to check-out, so that providers can operate most efficiently. The following are a few simple strategies that can help a UCC optimize patient flow:
1) Simplify check-in - To keep the check-in process running efficiently, review all patient forms that are filled out during check-in to make sure they are necessary, well-designed, and can be completed expediently. You may find certain paperwork to be unnecessary, if this is the case, eliminate it. It is not worth the patient’s frustration and the extra steps in the process.
2) Streamline registration - Consider having patients pre-register online. This helps expedite the process and gives practices the ability to collect co-pays at check-in. This can also help the checkout process, which can get complicated with managing referrals and scheduling follow-up appointments.
3) Exam room standardization - Exam rooms should be stocked with supplies and equipment in a standard way. This includes all items that are used regularly. Have all providers agree on a standard set of supplies and set them up in each room the same way to increase efficiency.
4) Cross Training - Training staff effectively in all practice related areas is a key factor to being efficient for most urgent cares. All staff members should be familiar with and understand administrative features, including being trained on the EMR system. This allows more flexibility if one employee is sick or suddenly quits without notice.
5) Documentation shortcuts - Most likely your EMR came with standardized templates. Utilize these if possible and create your own to save time and reduce redundancy.
6) Streamline checkout - Check out can significantly affect efficiency and patient flow. Consider implementing standardized referral sheets for specialists you commonly refer too, or standardized instruction sheets for common visits. Online scheduling can also help expedite the checkout process because it allows patients to check their schedules and book their follow up appointment from home.
Small changes in your daily operations can enhance your ability to improve the patient flow process and increase patient satisfaction. The result is happy, well-treated patients, and enhanced practice revenue.