Five steps to shorter lines and fewer FTEs – Part 1
More 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.
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:
- A streamlined scheduling and registration flow
- Optimization of activities such as printing of documents for clinical functions
- Updated policies and procedures
In our next blog post, we will examine step 2: Identifying enabling technology.