How to get a better patient experience with patient flow management? Internationally, there has been a tremendous amount of research and analysis on the topic. It is probably not a coincidence that both research and solutions are most advanced in the Anglo-Saxon world. In Europe, intelligent patient flow management can still make an additional contribution to a patient centric process. How? Read more in this article.
Where it could be better…
No, it is not so often this blog provides personal experience. Fortunately, I usually go to hospitals for professional reasons, not for medical interventions. However, my pregnant wife’s visit to an endocrinologist made me take on the role of a patient/companion. While the actual care and medical practise was top, the whole process around it was quite ‘suboptimal’:
- At the (automated) subscription desk, the display had shown the building block for the appointment. However, my wife forgot the destination during the process. Unfortunately, she did not get any ticket at the end of the subscription as a reminder.
- No worries, lets look at the wall that shows all physicians? While providing all physician’s locations, regrettably, many dozens of names were sorted non-alphabetically.
- The way-finding turned out relatively hazardous as well. The printed plan being outdated didn’t help either.
- It was unclear whether or not you would have to report at a desk when coming into the waiting area.
- All appointments seemed to accrue delay. However, patients have no idea how much time it would take before their appointment starts.
- The scheduled single-appointment turned out to be a full afternoon session of 4 appointments at 3 different locations.
Though there was excellent care and a really nice doctor/staff, the process around it could certainly be better. While the hospital could fix some of the issues with relatively simple interventions, an intelligent patient flow management application could certainly offer a helping hand.
Smart information and visualization
First and most important, those items which are very visible in providing patients “information”. An intelligent patient flow management is not only able to efficiently steer the patient flow. In order to do the steering, it needs to collect a rich set of data that it can also use in its communication. This way, we are able to provide additional information to (waiting) patients. For instance:
- We can publish current waiting times (see image of a waiting room screen). In order to do so, we use real-time information of the current situation for the medical department / physician / nurse. Waiting room screens show “general” waiting time information. A mobile app can even show individually tailored communication.
- Based on real-time and historical data, we are able to communicate an approximate end time for an individual patient journey.
- In case waiting times are accruing (or the patient is just way too early), we are able to suggest the patient to wait in the cafeteria. We will (automatically) call the patient when it is almost his/her turn.
- Tracking technology allows us to follow the patient. Hence, we are able to follow the patient through the entire medical pathway. Hence, at all different moments in time we are able to establish (a) the current location of the patient, and (b) his upcoming destination. This allows us to provide a personalized itinerary for the patient at all moments.
Privacy and less visible features
Next, even simple flow management applications work anonymously and increase respect for privacy. Such solutions usually provide the patient an identification such as number/logo. Physicians and nurses looking for their patients and screaming patient names around? Not any more, the solution will call the patient via the waiting room screen, using this (anonymous) identification.
Finally, not always visible to the patient, we are able to provide additional support. A short, non-exhaustive list of features the hospital may (or may not) enable
- Patients who have multiple appointments in the hospital get ‘priority’.
- Patients who are late due to a prior examination (for instance an RX) get queued on top.
- Staff members actively see where their patients are, for instance still in another examination or simply in the wrong waiting room. The solution automatically alerts patients who sit in the wrong waiting room.
This is an article (1 out of 7) in the series “Why would a hospital have (no) intelligent patient flow management?“. Interested to find out more, don’t hesitate to contact us via our contact page or write an email to email@example.com.