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Five Ways to Improve Patient Flow

1. Monitor your work flow.

All specialties grow at a different pace. When planning your practice it helps to understand the volume of procedure along with your physician’s schedule. One way to assess your volume is a procedure analysis and your schedule. This will help determine if you are maximizing your income by specialty, if you have appointments out more than three months you may need to hire another physician or adjust your hours of operation.

2. How are your patients getting to your front door?

If your referral base is sporadic or seasonal it can be difficult to devote proper asset. It helps to evaluate the source or sources and understand what efforts are being made. For example for orthopedic cases tend to increase in the beginning of the year due to winter activities and related injuries.

3. Set benchmarks, set goals when patient flow is slow. 

The best time to evaluate and restructure is when staff utilization is down due to a cyclical down turn in patient needs. Stemming from the example above when orthopedic case are down in the summer months train with your staff and physicians. Set benchmarks to help motivate and create a competitive environment for patient care.

4. Include all departments, billing, clinical and management. 

To improve your practice or facilities patient flow and experience all departments can help understand the big picture. Different departments have different “back up or hold up’s”. It is essential to meet weekly with all departments to briefly discuss issues and a plan to resolve. Then assess if your plan is working and adjust if needed. Remember, you are in the service business.

5. Reports: run reports small and big picture. 

Obviously running your schedule can always help with understanding your peaks and valleys and department surges like “ER Mondays”. Running the reschedule and no show is also a critical part in understanding if you are over or under staffed. It’s also important to understand the financial impact of you patient flow. If your payments seem to be sporadic it helps to mix low or slow payors with predictable and high payors.

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