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Guide to Improving Patient Flow in Hospitals

Proper movement of patients in a healthcare facility involves decision-making and internal systems in place. While effective medical facility construction with proper space planning ensures efficient patient flow, there are other important ways to lessen congestion in healthcare facilities.

Here are some important strategies in optimizing patient flow:

Utilize Technology to Improve Patient Care

Efficient patient flow can be achieved when healthcare facilities are equipped with the proper operational tools. Technologies like real-time equipment location and patient tracking can improve hospital efficiency. For instance, digital bed flow systems can help key personnel track the patient pathway to ensure that proper care is effectively delivered.

Have an Automated Bed Board Tool

To avoid having patients wait too long before admission, have an automated bed board tool to create transparency in the availability of beds and incoming patients. The tool will help ease the personnel’s tasks in bed assignments. You’ll be able to get the patient’s full details from admission to discharge without having problems in bed allocation.

It features real-time patient information, estimated time of patient discharge, and codes for bed availability to avoid any manual work. The predictive analysis method of the software helps the staff to oversee the beds in different wards, so empty beds will be constantly patient

Improve Hospital Layout

The hospital layout should accommodate all patients and staff to go around and complete their tasks. Good hospital design can impact the quality of healthcare and operational efficiency of your facility. Here are some tips for a more effective hospital layout:

  • Maintain Proper Sequence: Ensure that the layout for each department accommodates the various flow of events that constantly take place. When patients from the waiting room cross paths with patients from another room, it could start congestion that can affect other patients and staff as well.
  • Have Readable Signages: Patients can get lost in a large hospital without proper signages. Install clear signages or invest in digital wayfinding solutions that can help patients go around the hospital through directions in a mobile app. When there are fewer patients who get lost, there will be a reduced number of missed or late appointments.
  • Have Separate Check-in and Check-out areas: This will prevent the staff from going back and forth in different areas to attend to patients in the central waiting room. It will also prevent congestion that may lead to confusion among patients.
  • Keep Important Supplies Nearby: It’s recommended to keep supplies in the patient rooms’ drawers for accessibility. You can also have a dedicated area or mobile carts with essential supplies for added convenience in case of emergencies.

Train Staff on Time Management

When the staff is highly skilled in planning and spending their time, a proper patient flow will be maintained. Here are some important time management skills to ensure patient satisfaction:

  • Delegate: There are tasks that can be delegated to other departments or to a co-worker to maximize productivity. When the staff is skilled in handling other tasks like handling calls, doing inventories, or routing lab results, there is increased efficiency in processes that help regulate patient flow.
  • Know When to Say No: Unreasonable patient requests are common in the healthcare industry. Getting stuck with a person who won’t cooperate will lead to an increased number of patients waiting for their turn. Try to calmly explain why you need to turn down their request and there are other patients you need to attend to.
  • Use Electronic Health Records: EHRs will help you provide better and faster services through quicker access to patient records, more convenient patient interaction, and coordinated billing documents.
  • Prioritize: Organize your tasks and figure out the important things that need to be done first. There are times that patients pile up because there are more urgent matters that are not yet attended to. Aside from listing down the tasks for the day, analyze what would happen if a certain task is not carried out immediately.

Establish Timely Patient Discharge

Efficient patient discharge can relieve congestion and improve bed turnover. When patients leave the hospital the earliest time possible, they can get their prescriptions immediately filled and have more time for rest at home.

It will also prevent a shortage of beds that can affect patient flow. Practice timely patient discharge by constant cooperation and communication with other departments. For instance, nurses should keep in contact with environmental services to immediately initiate routines and prepare the rooms.

Efficient patient flow is essential to the healthcare industry, especially nowadays where hospitals are getting full. Optimization of patient flow will not only fix congestion but also achieve high-quality care to ensure all patients’ safety.

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