September 15-19 is National Health IT Week. This initiative is a collaborative forum and virtual awareness week that assembles key groups dedicated to working together to advance health through the best use of information technology. The healthcare industry faces many challenges. Fortunately, many talented groups are working to find solutions that leverage technological resources.
Reducing wait time is the first step towards improving patient care
One concern for both patient and provider is the wait time in a doctor’s office. Average wait times in a primary care office are on the rise. According to a survey by Software Advice, 97 percent of patients are frustrated by wait times. Why is the wait so long for doctors, but not for other professionals—such as lawyers, accountants, or dentists?
There are a few reasons:
- Offices over-book multiple appointments to allow for some “no shows.”
- Doctors and nurses do not account for extended patient visits.
- Doctors and nurses deal with unplanned procedures.
- The practice is just lax (e.g., showing up late to work or returning late from lunch break).
- The practice relies on outdated patient notification systems, such as flags.
The simple solution would be to reserve a few slots every day in the schedule in case a patient’s visit takes longer than expected or if there’s an emergency. This would create some “breathing room” in the schedule. However, these gaps cost providers revenue.
How to optimize patient flow
Another solution would be to improve office communications with an all-in-one staff paging, electronic wait list, and patient notification system, such as NetPage Unlimited. NPU can optimize patient flow and reduce waiting room time. It discreetly guides patients without making intrusive PA announcements. It’s ideal for a large operation.
Unlike an office phone system or overhead paging, NPU will collect wait time statistics, so you can evaluate your staff needs during peak times. The office manager can then improve scheduling by better anticipating peak times.
Bayshore Family Practice Center is currently the largest primary care practice in southeast Harris County. Originally, Bayshore used an old, manual flag system to notify staff as they passed by the treatment exam rooms. However, flags were overlooked. Staff could not move forward with another patient until the flag was cleared, causing a flow problem.
When they switched to NPU, the impact was noticeable. The NPU software was installed on every computer in the office, and staff member names were programmed into the system along with an assigned pager number. Each staff member was equipped with an LRS staff alphanumeric pager.
NetPage Unlimited has allowed staff to be notified wherever they are, and has eliminated the use of overhead paging. According to Donna Jones, Chief Operations Officer, “The silent paging provides compliance to HIPAA’s privacy of notifications regulation, as well as, providers are not interrupted unnecessarily.”
The system has helped keep providers organized, improving staff response times with instant communication and detailed messaging. “The staff and providers are better prepared, on time, and even more professional, and the patients love the quiet professional surrounding,” said Jones.
LRS is proud to support National Health IT Week, as we all think of creative IT solutions to improve patient care.
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Mai Lyn is a marketing coordinator at LRS and ambassador for solutions that create a better guest experience.