5 Ways to Maximize Outpatient Flow & Ambulatory Clinic Capacity in a COVID-19 World​

By Verto | August 07, 2020

Many ambulatory clinics are struggling to maximize outpatient flow in the context of social distancing, patient screening, safe clinic capacity and increased cleaning protocols. With outpatient volumes down significantly from pre-pandemic levels, patients must be convinced that it’s safe to return, and the last thing any clinic needs is to become the epicenter of the next outbreak.

5 Things Your Clinic Can Automate to Maximize Outpatient Flow & Ambulatory Clinic Capacity in a COVID-19 World.

1) Stop Wasting Time Making Appointment Confirmation Calls Manually

In order to maximize appointment bookings and get patients to return to your clinic, you’re going to have to convince them it’s safe to return. Instead of manually calling patients, you can utilize automated appointment reminders and include detailed educational information about new patient safety protocols you’ve implemented. This will significantly reduce administrative burden, ensuring patients are routinely engaged until they confirm their appointment, boost confirmation rates, and reduce cancellations or no-shows.

2) Don’t Wait to Perform COVID-19 Pre-Screening at Your Clinic Entryway 

The last thing your clinic needs is a crowded line-up of patients and caregivers at the clinic entryway waiting to answer COVID-19 screening questions. You can automate the majority of COVID-19 pre-screening questionnaires to engage patients before they arrive in your clinic, or upon their arrival while they’re still waiting outside in their vehicles. This lets patients know that everyone has been screened prior to their appointments, making them feel more safe. Pre-screening before patients arrive can help your clinic avoid bottlenecks at the building entryway, streamline patient flow and reduce last minute cancellations or no-shows.

3) Eliminate Line-ups to Check-in & Register

Even with social distancing, line-ups and queues are not ideal in a COVID-19 world. Instead, have patients notify you via text or email once they’ve arrived at your clinic, and allow them to register online. Then, they can receive an estimated wait time and remain in their vehicle or outside the building until you’re ready to see them. Once you’re ready, you can send them a text or email so they can go directly into the examination room. This will eliminate line-ups that patients perceive as dangerous and help to avoid possible walkouts and patient leakage.

4) Stop Trying to Manage Patient Flow Manually

Before the pandemic, manually managing patient flow was difficult and exceptions (physician being called into surgery, x-ray machine going down, etc.) caused bottlenecks that reduced patient throughput and staff and facility utilization. Automating patient flow creates real-time visibility for each step of the patient journey, enabling social distancing while maximizing patient flow. Optimizing patient flow allows staff to respond to exceptions and avoid bottlenecks, improving overall clinic capacity. 

5) Stop Manually Counting Patient Capacity

To maintain social distancing, you not only have to manage how many patients are in the building, you also have to track patient traffic, safe capacity management, and patient transitions between specific clinical areas. Automation can provide real-time visibility into how many patients are in the building, in each treatment area and how transitions are occurring from one area to another. This can not only result in staff efficiency and effectiveness, it can allow your clinic to easily follow any regulatory regulations including government guidelines, or regulations regarding facility patient capacity.

Managing ambulatory capacity manually was already difficult before the pandemic, and is significantly more challenging now. Manually trying to manage this increase in complexity will require considerably more administrative resources and could result in suboptimal clinic capacity utilization.

Automating safe COVID-19 patient flow, patient engagement & education, and patient capacity management that includes EMR integration can keep patients safe and optimize your clinic’s ambulatory capacity in a matter of weeks.

For some best practice suggestions please click here to Download our How to Maximize Safe Outpatient Flow & Ambulatory Clinic Capacity Guide.

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How to Maximize Safe Outpatient Flow & Ambulatory Clinic Capacity Guide

This guide will teach your clinic how to maximize safe outpatient flow and ambulatory clinic capacity in a COVID-19 world.

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