What does it mean to optimize patient flow?
Patient flow is the process by which a patient moves through a hospital or other health care setting – and eventually continues on their health journey throughout the care continuum.
Why is the optimization of patient flow essential to the success of modern health systems?
“Smoothing the flow of patients in and out of hospitals and other health care settings can reduce overcrowding, prevent poor handoffs, and avoid delays.” (Commonwealth Fund)
Health systems can no longer rely on past band-aid “optimization” methods – such as building additional facilities or hiring more staff. Instead, this often leads to an increase in patient volume at the cost of quality. Considering current capital constraints and workforce shortages, processes like these are not viable.
Implementing sustainable, efficient solutions helps decrease the instance of healthcare waste and allows health systems to create quality outcomes while avoiding bottlenecks.
This modern optimization is achieved by utilizing healthcare technology and prioritizing physician-organization value-based goal alignment - creating value for health systems and patients alike.
Here are 4 ways health systems can make effective and lasting solutions to optimize patient flow:
1. Use tech to transform data to insights.
Utilizing technology and advanced data analytics allows health systems to improve patient care. Trustworthy, timely data is the foundation of effective change. Health systems can leverage this technology to track and report on patient and physician data in order to create holistic action plans.
Thus, predicting potential roadblocks in care and avoiding future readmissions - efficiently moving patients through the care continuum.
2. Work for each other, not against each other.
In fee-for-service reimbursement models, physician and health system goals are not aligned. Where one benefits, the other feels the financial strain. Goals everyone can agree on initiate sustainable change.
Healthcare data helps illuminate inefficiencies, and encourages both parties to develop and meet attainable benchmarks to improve care through value-based decisions.
3. Create a culture of accountability.
Physicians have the map - data is the compass.
It’s impossible to know how your metrics compare when they are not tracked. Data allows physicians to compare themselves to established benchmarks, and helps health systems have meaningful conversations and actions plans. Health systems can be more efficient when they properly disclose physician benchmarks and expectations to their team.
4. Communicate effectively to clarify information and reduce wasted time.
No one wants to be in the hospital longer than necessary. A system with optimized patient flow provides quality care during a patient’s first encounter - avoiding readmissions, overcrowding, and unnecessary procedures. And, it helps physicians get better at their practice.
Recent healthcare technology teaches physicians how to properly code, chart, and notate the needs of their patient. Efficient notation and communication helps patients move more quickly through the care continuum and back home or to a home space.
Healthcare technology helps all parties work together toward a greater good - one that costs less and saves valuable resources. This shift is just one of the ways that HNI is transforming healthcare. See more.
Learn more about the goals of value-based care and what it means to hospitals, providers, and patients.
Hear about healthcare waste from healthcare veterans.
Hear from healthcare veterans Blain Claypool - Chief Operating Officer, and Dr. Reuben Tovar - Chief Medical Officer, of HNI Healthcare, as they walk through their experience navigating value-based care, risk-based arrangements, and alternate payment models, and how they got buy-in from their hospital, providers, and colleagues.
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