Managing High Patient Volume in the Month of December
Posted on Wednesday, December 07, 2016
“It’s the most wonderful – make that, busiest – time of the year!”
Much like the holiday season, the 4th Quarter (and especially the month of December) can be a stressful time for hospitals. By this point, many patients have met their deductibles and may have money saved in their FSAs that must be used by the end of the year. The desire to maximize their healthcare finances, combined with the extra days off from work and school, makes this the opportune time for patients to schedule elective procedures and check off other items on their medical to-do lists. Plus, the flu season and changing weather typically lead to an influx of sick patients as well.
Although hospitals are aware of these realities, many still feel underprepared when December strikes. And while an increase in patients might imply an increase in revenue, hospitals still must handle the logistics of managing high patient volume while respecting their capacity limits. When a hospital is underprepared, an overflow of patients and the disorder that comes with it can be detrimental to the patient experience, lowering patient satisfaction and even posing a risk to patient safety.
Fortunately, you can prepare your facility for the hustle and bustle of 4th Quarter. Here are some suggestions to help you better manage the excess number of patients your facility is sure to be experiencing right now:
Implement a Patient Tracking System
You can significantly improve patient throughput with a patient tracking system. Implementing a solution like this can make a huge impact in lowering your patient wait times, improving hospital efficiency and allowing your staff to serve more patients.
Managing high patient volume is more feasible when you have a patient tracking system in place that monitors each patient’s status in real-time and enables management to oversee throughput across multiple areas from a central location.
HealthWare’s patient tracking system can also project the level of staffing a facility may need. Knowing these metrics can help you prevent the burnout that many doctors feel when overbooked, meaning greater employee satisfaction and less stress-induced turnover.
Managing high patient volume is possible with the right healthcare technology solutions.
Prevent Errors with Deficiency Management Tools
Sure, more patients might mean more revenue. But if your registrars are rushing to register patients, failing to collect all required information or recording errors that ultimately lead to reimbursement denials, how much extra revenue are you really taking in?
You can automate this process with patient registration software that monitors each registration for accuracy and enforces specific data and documentation requirements according to government and payer-specific rules. You can further control deficiencies with a deficiency management solution that flags and routes mistakes to staff for correction before they can snowball into greater issues, rework, or payment delays and denials down the road.
In addition to those mentioned above, there are many other healthcare solutions that can help you automate the registration process and assist you in improving hospital efficiency. For instance, an electronic forms solution can automate the selection and generation of forms for every situation, wherever a patient presents. Forms automation can pre-populate patient demographic data on every form, so that staff members don’t have to write this information by hand. And a physician order management system can streamline the collection of documentation electronically, allowing you to immediately review orders for accuracy and easily route documents to their appropriate departments without worrying that lost or incomplete orders will hold up patient throughput.
Many hospitals’ attempts at managing high patient volume involve scheduling extra staff to help meet the demands of this busy time of year. Yes, you may need to adjust your scheduling during December, but you can cut down on these costs by lessening internal workloads when you automate former manual processes; for example, you can read here how one hospital used the above healthcare solutions to avoid the need to increase FTEs even while growing its surgery department by 20 percent.
The December patient upsurge is an issue your facility can expect to face this time every year. If you haven’t yet implemented healthcare solutions for managing high patient volume, now is the time to make those changes. Don’t wait to react until your busy season hits again next year. Be proactive and get these systems in place as soon as possible so that they can benefit you the whole year through, and you will confidently enter the 4th Quarter in 2017 and every year thereafter.