Organizing the flow of patients through your practice can cut back on the feeling of chaos and bring in a peaceful efficiency that will motivate you and your employees. Creating a better flow can also create a sense of authority with your patients that shows your practice knows what they are doing.
At HENO, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about patient flow management. As busy practice owners ourselves, we understand how important it is to provide patients with an easy and stress-free experience, as well as why practice owners need to be as efficient as possible.
With that in mind, here are 5 chaos-reducing physical therapy patient flow management solutions to try.
#1: Reconsider the Layout of Your Office
The first thing to consider is the layout of your office. We’ve seen a lot of physical therapy practices where patients who are arriving for appointments end up fighting for space in the reception area with patients who are leaving. That’s not good for anybody.
The solution is to think about how you want patients to physically move in your office. Here’s an example of an efficient layout:
Patients come in through your front door directly into your reception area
After being greeted, they move into a designated waiting area to complete paperwork and wait for you
You and other PTs bring patients from the waiting area to your exam rooms
When the appointment is over, patients go from the exam room to a separate exit at the rear of your practice
What you can see from this layout is that patients never visit the same area twice. They progress from the entrance of your practice to the exit with no backtracking. It’s a set-up that keeps things moving and minimizes frustration for you, your staff and your patients.
#2: Use Mobile Technology
It’s easy for your reception area and waiting room to get backed up with patients completing intake forms. One way to keep things moving and improve patient flow is to embrace mobile technology in your practice.
Here’s an example. Instead of having patients complete intake paperwork in your office, you can provide them with tablets to use instead. Most of your patients will complete forms more quickly with the help of technology than they would on paper. You can also use this method to encourage your patients to use your patient portal for scheduling and communication.
#3: Stay on Top of Delays
Patients rightfully get frustrated when they show up on time for an appointment only to find themselves sitting in the waiting room because their provider is running late. Not only is this a bad business practice, it’s also a good way to visually see that your patient flow is not working.
The solution is to be proactive about dealing with delays. Instead of keeping patients in the dark, have your staff notify patients when there’s a delay. Patients will appreciate it if they can leave their home or office later and minimize their waiting time in your office. Your staff will also be happy because it will reduce the chaos when you’re running behind.
More and more, consumers — including patients — are comfortable using self-help options provided by businesses. That’s just as true for healthcare providers as it is for retail stores. And, the good news is that the use of patient portals is on the rise.
Choosing a practice management solution that includes a patient flow management solution such as a patient portal makes a lot of sense. Your patients will be empowered to do things like:
View available appointment slots online
Schedule their own appointments
Cancel and reschedule appointments
Complete intake paperwork
Communicate with their physical therapists and ask questions
Pay copays and bills
The patient portal can save your staff hours of time taking patient phone calls and helping patients with paperwork. It can also streamline claim submissions and billing, making it one of the best solutions to improve patient flow.
#5: Train Your Staff in Time Management
On the whole, we don’t think that staff training gets enough attention in the world of practice management. Proper training is the key to efficient time management and patient flow. When your staff understands how to use their time wisely, it’s less likely they’ll fall behind in their work.
We suggest implementing a robust system for training new employees as well as a plan for ongoing training and education. Your patient flow needs are likely to be fluid. The best way to stay on top of them is to train your staff and encourage them to come to you with issues related to patient flow. That way, you can implement new training and processes as needed.
Patient flow management is the key to efficient practice management and profitability. The 5 solutions we’ve listed here will help you do a better job of managing patient flow and maximizing your efficiency.
Ready to learn how HENO can help you optimize your patient flow? Click here to schedule a free demo!
Katie co-founded HENO based on her career as a physical therapist and practice owner of over 10 years. Her understanding of the pain points many practice owners face has equipped her to create practice management solutions that optimize the efficiency and profitability of physical, speech and occupational therapy clinics.