As healthcare moves from fee for service to value-based care models, medical practices need to maintain relationships with a broad range of patients. This means getting patients through the door and operating your practice as efficiently as possible.

Patient flow is sometimes called ‘throughput’ – the sum of services provided by a healthcare institution. Throughput includes the number of patients you treat, procedures you perform and laboratory or radiological services your practice performs.

Here are three ways to optimize throughput while prioritizing patient care.

#1 – Enhance scheduling and outreach

The best way to improve throughput is to assess your organization and see where you can boost numbers.

According to athenahealth, roughly 30 percent of medical appointments go unused. Start by analyzing where you have cancellations and overbook those time slots.

You can also get patients through the door by improving outreach. Automated reminders and cancellation and reschedule campaigns can help prevent missed appointments.

#2 – Optimize patient encounters

Your practice can enhance physicians’ time with patients by strategically reducing providers’ work and stress.

A good rule is to delegate work to non-physician personnel whenever possible. Make sure administrative staff handle general outreach, front office staff complete chart prep and physicians’ assistance handle lab work, vaccines, quality documentation and prescription refills.

Athenahealth 2018 Infographic

Strategically building effective support teams can optimize physician time and streamline workflows. It’s also important to collect and analyze data to assess your patient throughput process and set goals accordingly.

#3 – Adopt supplemental technology

Technology should allow doctors to spend more time with patients – not less.

Consider integrating mobile technology like smartphones into your workflow. With the right software and training, mobile devices can help providers complete tasks without getting distracted from patient care.

As health systems systems work to enhance throughput, easing providers’ administrative load can improve patient flow without sacrificing patient care. Adopting smart tools and workflow can lead to both healthier practices and greater overall satisfaction.

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