Improve patient flow with clever healthcare design
Smooth patient flow through medical and healthcare centres makes a real difference to safety, efficiency and the patient experience. Patient outcomes are also improved when people are kept safer, seen sooner and treated more efficiently. Healthcare design company Evoke Projects examines steps you can take to improve patient flow in your practice.
In an ideal world, patient flow should be considered at the healthcare design phase and prior to undertaking a new medical fit-out. However, some aspects of patient flow can be improved through a smaller healthcare practice refurbishment.
Concierge coming to a healthcare practice near you
The concierge was once associated with large hotels. Welcoming and ready to offer guidance, the concierge could be the difference between a great holiday and a mediocre one. We now see government agencies, such as Service NSW, greet us with a concierge. It makes us feel welcome, recognised as individuals and reassured that we have been allocated a ticket for the most suitable staff member.
Large healthcare practices are starting to embrace the concierge function. The concierge welcomes patients, guides them to the correct waiting area and assists with check-in or other technology. Bottlenecks can be reduced, and reception conversations are more private as fewer patients congregate at the reception desk.
Healthcare design layout to improve patient flow
Naturally, the healthcare interior design will impact the efficiency of patient flow.
Decentralised waiting areas close to doctors or clinical staff will reduce crowded areas and speed up appointment times. It is also helpful to consider staff flow because movement between waiting areas, treatment rooms and administrative areas also impacts on patient experience. Decentralised staff admin areas close to patient treatment rooms keeps staff physically closer to monitor patients and reduces inefficient movement around the practice.
Thinking more holistically, practices that can treat the whole person in one healthcare fit-out (diagnosis, treatment, ancillary services, mental health and health education) improve patient flow as people do not have to visit multiple venues for different appointments on different days.
For Covid-safe movement, consider dedicated entry and exit doors plus one-way or wider corridors to minimise patient interaction when you next undertake a new healthcare fit-out. If a fit-out is not on the cards for a while, a healthcare practice refurbishment could include a concierge desk along with new entry protocols such as a screening system to filter high risk patients away from other patients.
Technology to help with patient flow
Technology offers many healthcare workplace solutions to improve patient flow. Examples include:
- Patient engagement technology to reduce waiting times and provide mobile check-ins. In larger facilities and hospitals, this technology can even provide real-time information about each patient’s location within the medical centre and their current treatment status.
- Online or remote triage software including AI (artificial intelligence) symptom checking, prioritising appointments by medical need.
- Telehealth consultations.
- Digitisation of records and My Health Record for efficient sharing of medical information.
Wayfinding in the healthcare design
Wayfinding signs, directional arrows and floor stickers are a great way to assist with patient flow and ensure mindfulness about physical distancing and hygiene. Larger medical centres could consider colour coding to guide people towards different specialist areas (e.g. paediatrics, radiology, pathology). Where seats in waiting areas should not be used, signage does not have to be stark and unwelcoming – buy some funky Do Not Sit Here seat cushions!
The healthcare sector is about care, but it is also a competitive industry sector. Patients increasingly have choice about which practice they attend. Establishing a reputation as an efficient, well-run practice will benefit your bottom line. Call the healthcare design experts at Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about fit-outs and healthcare refurbishment to improve patient flow.