4 Strategies to Streamline Patient Flow

Maintaining efficient patient flow is critical for a number of reasons, including patient satisfaction and timely patient care, but may not be easy to do. Here are four strategies, offered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, on how to streamline patient flow.

•    Identify and eliminate logjams. For instance, an ophthalmology clinic found that patients who needed their pupils dilated were slowing down the flow because their appointment slot did not take this into consideration. The solution was to identify such patients and have them come 30 minutes prior to their consultation with the physician. 

•    Shift tasks previously handled by specialists to other health professionals such as physicians assistants and nurse practitioners. These tasks may include performing histories and physical exams, basic prescribing and ordering x-rays.

•    Develop and use standardized order sheets for common conditions or procedures. By making it easier and faster for clinicians to communicate orders, this intervention enables them to spend more time with the patient. It also makes it more feasible for clinical staff to take on some of the clinician’s responsibilities.

•    Develop standardized patient information and instruction sheets, possibly in conjunction with standardized order sheets and related protocols. These materials help staff streamline the patient education process while still ensuring that they meet the patient’s need for appropriate education and information.

Related Articles on Patient Flow:

CDC Releases Recommendations for Field Triage of Injured Patients

Patient Flow: 'Getting On Board and Out of the Hallway'

Johns Hopkins: Google Tool Could Help Hospitals Prepare for Flu-Related ED Surges

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