Patient Tracking--A Solution for for Wait Reduction

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Operational Performance Improvement

Barbara Gerhardt
Project Director, Reinventing
Sentara Healthcare

Mike Toth
Project Coordinator
Sentara Healthcare

This presentation describes the transformation of OP Registration from chaos to a streamlined process through the development of a patient tracking system that was developed in house quickly, at no cost. A demonstration of Patient Tracker is included, as is a summary of improvements in outpatient wait times and process efficiency.

A computer-based solution for tracking and managing outpatient visits was developed for the opening of a new hospital that had no sub-waiting in ancillary departments. The Registration area needed immediate assistance to relieve major congestion in the front lobby, excessive wait times and patient complaints. Patient Tracker literally came to the rescue, incorporating the following enhancements: - Automatic time stamping of each registration and procedure step - Alerting ancillary department of arrived patients, identifying outliers (through color-coded alerts) and notifying managers of problems - Notifying electronically other staff involved in the process, thereby coordinating handoffs. - Enabling managers to balance workload and modify staffing to match demand - Compiling performance data instantaneously, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. with drill down capability to the staff level. - Involving patients in their care experience by providing a customized visit itinerary at check-in so the patient knows where to go for multiple tests. The results were remarkable: The average registration cycle time was reduced from 20 minutes in January of 2003 to 9 minutes in 2005. The hours/registration went from.91 in 2002 to .40 in 2005. Cash collections at check in improved from $50,000/year to over $300,000/year in 3 years.