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A Simple Way to Reduce Patient Wait Times

HealthWare Systems Blog

A Simple Way to Reduce Patient Wait Times

Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013

We’ve all heard a friend tell a story about having to wait for hours at a hospital for a 15 minute radiology appointment, with only a three year-old copy of People magazine to keep him company. Or you remember the time that your elderly mother had to register at multiple front desks just to have a lab test.

First impressions like these cause patients to ask questions like, “Why isn’t my time as important as the hospital’s?” or “Can’t people at the same facility talk to each other?”

When patients feel that their time is being wasted, the appointment starts on a negative note. They can become frustrated or even angry, and this could affect how they interact with staff—receptionists, nurses, technicians, even doctors. Worse, they might not interact with the healthcare facility at all—more and more, patients who are fed up with long wait times are leaving, perhaps endangering themselves and potentially severing a relationship.

Patients aren’t the only ones who suffer from an uncoordinated patient registration process. It can also be a drain on staff and it can undermine a healthcare provider’s credibility.

It doesn’t have to be that way. A healthcare facility can alleviate the pain of long wait times in a number of ways. It can look at the patient experience from parking lot to discharge to see where bottlenecks occur, and then streamline the process. It can offer free wi-fi in the waiting area to help patients pass the time, or it can be candid in its communications with patients about how long the wait time is.

But perhaps the most proactive—and simplest—thing a healthcare facility can do to reduce wait times is to implement patient tracking solutions.

Healthcare facilities that have implemented HealthWare Systems’ ActiveTRACK solution have found that they have not only automated the patient registration process, but they have also begun to measure patient registration time, patient wait time, and the time it takes to complete paperwork. This information can be used to improve the entire patient flow process.

ActiveTRACK is a patient tracking system that simplifies patient check-in, provides wayfinding information, populates electronic patient waiting lists, and allows hospitals to streamline the workflow of its greeters, registrars and other associated departments.

Specifically, ActiveTRACK can:

  1. Automate the check-in/registration process via a kiosk or greeter station. It also offers a map to direct patients to their destination and provides the necessary documents for pre-registration.

  2. Manage the patient waiting list to support immediate or deferred processing, assign patients to the registrar with the skills to handle their registration, or establish special purpose queues to handle patients with specific needs.

  3. Capture real-time registration metrics, such as when the patient is called, when they arrive at the registration booth, and the time it takes the registrar to complete the registration.  This data can be analyzed to better manage the process.

  4. Project your facility’s staffing needs, by measuring the historical benchmarks and comparing expected patient volumes.

  5. Expedite specific registrations so other departments can see which patients are ready to move to clinical areas and those who are still waiting to be registered.

Implementing a patient tracking system can help you improve efficiency, reduce wait times, and engage patients in their own medical care. In short, it helps you improve the overall quality of care you’re providing. Isn’t that the goal?

See how ActiveTRACK enables hospitals, medical centers and health systems to increase revenue cycle performance and improve patient, physician and employee satisfaction.

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