Keeping the patient flow moving efficiently in a busy urgent care setting is challenging. Patients don’t want to wait and once they’re taken back to the exam room, they expect to be attended to by the provider very shortly. Your goal should be to get patients out of the center within an hour (DTD or door-to-door time). That includes registration, time with the medical staff, discharge instructions, check out and out the door.
Every step along the way needs to have it’s own efficiencies, but the center needs to have a team and “whole center” focus as well.
Here’s a recent Yelp review that illustrates the breakdown in patient flow management:
“…The front desk staff were all very kind and helpful, but waiting an hour and then on top of that another 45 min in the room because they “forgot I was in there” was ridiculous…Go to <competitive> Urgent Care. They have <better staffing> and they won’t just “forget you are in the room”.”
Why does something like this happen? Clearly anyone in the center could have and should have known where this patient was and how long she was there.
A tracker board like this one in Urgichart is all that would have been needed to completely avert this problem:
- There is just no way you can “forget” a patient when you have this in front of you, and every staff member has this in view.
- Providers are generally going to take the next patient in the queue and you can set the “TID – Time in Department” to turn red at whatever time you select.
- One of the nurses or MAs can can be appointed as “triage” and take responsibility for making sure patients are at least “eyeballed” by a provider in a reasonable period of time and get any diagnostics going while they’re finishing with another patient.
- The front desk staff can do their part in keeping the whole office flowing as well by being conscious of how long patients have been in the office and if over an hour, go check on them! Offer them a bottle of water or chat about their family while they’re waiting, it reduces the perception of time waiting.
Here’s a quick demo of the Trackerboard in action:
A final thought when something does break down:
Use a “morning huddle” where the medical director, manager and staff get together for a few minutes before opening to review center KPIs (key performance indicators), and any recent problems like this one and come up with plans to improve or prevent problems. Here are some KPI reports and graphs easily created by Urgichart to facilitate this daily discussion:
You can’t afford to “forget” a patient in an exam room, and the entire staff needs to keep a finger on the pulse of the flow through the center. You can do that with Urgichart’s Trackerboard.
Interested in Learning More?
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