In today’s world of instant-gratification—and patient satisfaction—there’s a growing imperative for healthcare providers to see more patients in less time. From a business perspective, reducing wait times means doctors can see more patients, collect more revenue and expand their practices. From the patient’s standpoint, providers are evolving to support their needs and improve perceptions.
Here are three strategic ways healthcare facilities can lower patient wait times in an effort to yield better clinical and fiscal outcomes:
Hire a healthcare consulting firm1
Increased financial pressures, declining patient volumes, Medicare performance-based rewards and penalties, and rate pressure from insurers are driving many healthcare institutions to hire healthcare consultants to address patient flow issues. These consultants provide hospitals a thorough analysis of their productivity and costs. For example, they monitor logistics on each hospital floor to determine patients’ lengths of stay and estimated discharge times to help identify ways they can reduce wait times for examinations, lab tests, bed availability and more. To hire the best firm for the job, consult other hospitals that have used a healthcare firm that helped them reach the solutions they needed. Determine whether the consulting firm has extensive healthcare experience and can provide ways for hospitals to improve coordination and communication between hospital departments to decrease patient wait times. And finally, make sure your healthcare facility is ready to take on the challenges that come with implementing new strategies and projects1.
Schedule repeat visits on low-demand days2
Providers face a variety of ebbs and flows in patient visits in any given year. While some seasons are more predictable than others, for example, the flu season, others are not. So it’s in the best interest of clerks and administrators to schedule repeat visits, non-life-threatening surgeries and procedures at times when provider demand is low and supply is sufficient. This tactic dramatically reduces wait times during high-traffic periods, letting patients have a less stressful and more relaxed experience when they do arrive for their scheduled appointments or procedures2.
Partner with nearby urgent care clinics or providers2
Another key way to lowering wait times is sharing the load with trusted providers in the vicinity, especially during periods of high volume. It’s a great way to build a community of providers for patients who can count on having their needs met at the same level of expertise and satisfaction their own healthcare facility would deliver. Plus, everyone can rely on a network of partners that have their—and their patients’—best interests at heart2.
1Johnson, S., (May 2, 2015). Patient Flow Consult: To reduce Wait Times, One Hospital Hires Outside Help, another Chooses DIY. Retrieved from: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150502/MAGAZINE/305029980
2White, J., (July 6, 2015). 4 Keys to Reducing Patient Wait Times. Retrieved from: http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/reduce-patient-wait-times/