The Science of Reducing Patient Wait Times

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement argues that the continuous problem of having long waiting periods at a medical practice comes down to a general distaste for the laws of economics in the world of medicine. Out of necessity, medical professionals privilege patients with urgent conditions. No one is arguing that this practice isn’t a required part of practicing good medicine. However, this practice exists to the exclusion of all others, allowing the flow of work to be disrupted and causing delays. How can you go about reducing patient wait times?

The IHI suggests that implementing other practices in addition to frontloading severe cases would help in managing the overall workflow. These practices all come down to understanding the balance of supply and demand. By understanding that there is no way to control external flow (i.e. how many patients fall ill or become injured on a daily basis), we can begin to re-focus on internal flow.

Managing Supply and Demand

One of the best ways to manage internal flow at the start of a new practice is to religiously record all incoming and outgoing patient times. Charting this information will provide you with the necessary data after just a few short weeks. This will help you to plan future staffing schedules. If you notice demand is particularly high during certain hours or days of the week, make sure you have extra staff on hand to keep up with reducing patient wait times.

In addition, do what you can to control internal flow. Only schedule office visits for time periods where demand is generally lower. This will help to prevent regularly scheduled office visits from resulting in long wait times due to a large number of walk-ins/emergency cases, keeping both your scheduled patients and unscheduled patients happier.

Streamlining Administrative Processes

Although taking supply and demand into account is key to reducing patient wait times, there are a lot of other ways you can streamline the process, including:

  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Online check-in
  • Patient data collection
  • Secure messaging to confirm appointments

If your practice successfully implements these tools, then your administrative staff will see a sizeable decrease in the volume of work expected of them in relation to patient flow. You could divide administrative duties based on direct and indirect patient customer service. However, if you effectively promote your online services on your website and in your practice, it will most likely be unnecessary.

Identifying Additional Delays

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests doing what they call a “waste walk.” Essentially, the staff is asked to do a mock run-through of the patient experience to identify steps or points of waste that can be altered to allow the system to run more smoothly. For example, you may find that the 30-second walk to the very back of your practice to get initial measurements is actually creating a painful increase in your wait times throughout the day.

From these practices, it is clear that the organization of the practice is a major factor and definitely something you should discuss when looking at medical and dental office space with Boulevard Medical Properties. Consider how your equipment will fit into the office and how it will manipulate patient flow prior to deciding on a space.

Maintaining Results

Although you may do a “waste walk” and rigorously document supply and demand in the early days of your practice, remember that a medical office is an ever-changing entity. The needs of your patients and the required steps in their care will continue to evolve as medicine adapts to new problems and new research.

To continue adapting to your patients’ needs, you will need to continually collect data on the daily supply and demand of your practice, as it will surely change with time, requiring alterations to staffing and scheduling. In addition, if anything ever changes in your practice, either personnel or equipment, perform another “waste walk” to audit the process once again.

For more on reducing patient wait times and finding the right medical office lease for your needs, visit Boulevard Medical Properties today.

Should You Renovate or Relocate?

Depending on your commercial office lease, business needs, and your current location, you may need to decide whether it’s better to renovate or relocate your business. If you are at the point where you need to choose one or the other, the checklist below will help you work out a pros and cons list to find out which option is best for you.

For most businesses, it is not a clear-cut answer and working through the costs, impact on your business, and time it will take are major factors that could affect your business and profits.

Importance of Location

When deciding to renovate or relocate, location can be a major factor that impacts a business. Having a convenient location, ample parking, and common stores that people frequent near you is important.

If you are looking to renovate or relocate, consider the importance of your location. Have you been at the same location for decades? If you relocate, how far would you be from your original location? Would this be inconvenient for your clients? Is your business visible and do you get a lot of clients based on walk-ins frequenting the area?

If the answer to these is yes, it is likely that the location you are currently at is important to your overall business objectives. While this is just one consideration, it is likely an important one.

Costs

Clearly costs are also going to be a major factor. The costs of renovation versus relocation are important.

You’ll need to calculate your moving costs, including a deposit, new rental amount, transportation and moving costs, etc. This includes the possible cost to your business if the new location is inconvenient to your clients who may choose to go with another business.

On the other hand, you’ll also need to count your renovation costs. One major thing to consider outside of the actual costs of supplies and labor is whether you can remain open during the renovation. Will the renovation impact your business in any way? If so, for how long?

Client Feedback

One way to find out how clients would feel about the business relocating is to ask them. If you find that the costs would be similar, or the pros and cons just seem to be equal, talk with your clients. Would a new location push them to another provider? Clients may not feel comfortable providing you with this information so providing an anonymous survey via e-mail may help with the validity of your feedback.

Consider the Future of Your Business

If you renovate now, will this renovation accommodate your business based on your projections for the future? Is there a possibility that you could outgrow your renovations and need to relocate anyways?

Check out your local zoning laws to see how much you can expand now (and possibly in the future). Consider the future of your business when deciding to renovate or relocate your practice.

Intuition and Time

A large part of running a business is outlining and determining plans, going over cost-benefit analyses for numerous business decisions, and ultimately following your gut. After a balanced analysis including a pros and cons list, also consider your intuition. While this should not be something you fully rely on, sometimes following your intuition can help ease your mind when you make your final decision.

If possible, you should also take some time to think about your decision. Put down your pros and cons list and come back to it 48 hours later. Sometimes time can provide major clarity in terms of business decisions.

If you are unsure or are interested in relocation, contact Boulevard Medical Properties. Boulevard Medical Properties has been helping businesses transition into new offices for years. We have a dedicated team of expert real estate professionals that can walk you through the process step-by-step without any pressure. No matter what you decide, give Boulevard Medical Properties a call to see what your options are.