PatientWay Blog

Five steps to shorter lines and fewer FTEs – Part 1

Written by Jay Lawrence on February 8th, 2011. Posted in Hospital information systems, Hospital management, Hospital scheduling, Patient registrations

images1 Five steps to shorter lines and fewer FTEs   Part 1More than ever, hospitals are faced with increasing patient volumes and expectations, while having to work with tighter budgets.  These new realities are driving hospitals to find ways to adapt, including the review of resources and streamlining processes.

The good news is that positive outcomes can be gained by using technology to improve scheduling and patient registration processes. Reviewing and enhancing these processes can:
• Improve patient satisfaction – easier access, less time to register, and self-service options
• Reduce manual input – fewer resources and fewer data errors
• Enhance staff satisfaction – shorter line ups and more rewarding tasks

Over the next couple weeks we will provide a three part series that leads to a fresh perspective on patient access. By looking for inefficiencies, minimizing steps, information re-keying, and engaging technical solutions that are adaptable and bring meaningful improvement, your team will have the ability to create a road map for providing excellent care while maximizing value for money.

Step 1 – Process Assessment and Improvement

Hospital scheduling and registration are complex functions. Many details need to be considered when booking a procedure. Consider using a process engineering specialist to assess and develop an improved flow.

A good process assessment will map activities and information pathways, determine outcomes, assign value to tasks and information and establish clear deliverables for the scheduling and registration team.

ImprovedProcess Five steps to shorter lines and fewer FTEs   Part 1

Process re-engineering can be accomplished using intuition and common sense or a more formal framework like “Lean“. An advantage of an established framework is that a common language and methodology is used leading to increased re-usability of improvements.

Over the years processes change. New tasks are created but old ones are rarely discontinued. Unnecessary tasks waste valuable staff time. Waste is a key indicator of the need for change. What types of waste exist in the current scheduling and registration areas of your hospital?

Delay Delay on the part of patients waiting for service
Duplication Duplication. Having to re-enter data, repeat details on forms, copy information across, answer queries from several sources within the same organization.
Unnecessary Movement Unnecessary Movement. Queuing several times, lack of “one-stop shopping”
Unclear Communication Unclear Communication, and the wastes of seeking clarification, wasting time finding a location that may result in additional waste to assist
Lost Inventory Inventory, the patient forgets or is unable to arrive for their scheduled appointment, perishable resources such as isotopes are lost.
Opportunity Lost An opportunity lost to satisfy patients such as failure to establish rapport, ignoring patients, unfriendliness, and rudeness
Errors Errors in the service transaction such as data entry

Seeking to improve the overall process, focusing on value and outcomes, the process re-engineering will develop:

  1. A streamlined scheduling and registration flow
  2. Optimization of activities such as printing of documents for clinical functions
  3. Updated policies and procedures

In our next blog post, we will examine step 2: Identifying enabling technology.

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Jay Lawrence

Jay Lawrence is the CEO of PatientWay, a leading provider of patient self-service technology and process improvement services.  Jay's vision of bringing measurable cost and time efficiencies to health care organizations, while improving patient and staff satisfaction, is quickly being realized as leading providers such as Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Southlake Regional Health Centre and the Stronach Cancer Care Centre, are just a few of the many that have adopted PatientWay technology. Jay is a recipient of the Ottawa Business Journal's Forty under 40 Award in 2009, Industry Canada Innovation Leader also in 2009, and Chair of the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) Path to Recognition (PTR) National Steering Committee.

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