How to Assess Patient Flow in the Medical Office

Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Mature male patient in discussion with doctor
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Patient flow is how patients move through your medical office before, during, and after their appointment or treatment. Determining how your patients move throughout your medical office should be one of the first areas to be assessed for improvement.

Only the patient knows whether the entire process flows smoothly from the time they schedule an appointment, arrive at the medical office, check in for their visit, sit in the waiting area, wait in the exam room, are treated by a physician, check out and pay, and finally leave.

 If the patients of your medical office are not happy with the entire process, they may not come back. 

Assessing Patient Flow Through the Medical Office

In order to determine if your medical office has a smooth patient flow, find out the answers to the following questions:

  • Was the patient spoken to with respect when calling in for an appointment
  • Was the patient greeted by the receptionist with courtesy and respect?
  • How long did the patient wait to see the doctor?
  • Did the nurse and doctor explain the details of the services provided to the patient?
  • Did the nurse and doctor answer all the patient's questions?
  • Did the patient receive excellent customer service?
  • Was the exam room clean, comfortable and prepared?
  • Was the waiting area safe, clean and spacious?

Assessing Patient Satisfaction

Providing high-quality care and excellent customer service will prevent loss of revenue for the medical office. Patients will very likely continue to come back as long as they are satisfied with the entire process.

So how do you find out how patients perceive the process of your medical office?

  • Develop and distribute Patient Satisfaction Surveys
  • Sit in the waiting area and observe what goes on from that point of view
  • Put yourself through the entire process
  • Talk to your staff and find out what problems they may be aware of

    Taking Action on Flow and Patient Satisfaction Assessments

    Once you determine where with your medical office are the opportunities for improvement, take immediate action.

    Step 1: Develop a written plan of action

    Step 2: Get the involvement of front office staff, physicians, and nurses

    Step 3: Implement changes within the medical office slowly

    Step 4: Make sure any major changes are posted openly to aware patients

    Step 5: Track your progress

    Step 6: Get feedback from patients and staff

    Step 7: Continue to compare and analyze your results

    Step 8: Once you see consistent improvement, continue to maintain your new standards

    Managing the Medical Office and Improving Patient Satisfaction

    As everyone knows, first impressions are lasting ones. The first impressions your customers receive about your medical practice are often from your office staff making them crucial to the success of your organization.

    Tip #1: 3 Golden Rules of Medical Office Management
    The medical office manager is ultimately responsible for the success of the entire staff. Managers are required to distribute the workload, motivate and supervise staff, and coordinate the smooth operations of the office. Of course, when things go well, the medical office manager gets all the credit but when things don't go well they also get all the blame.

    Tip #2: Get Maximum Performance from Your Employees
    As the leader of your organization, one of your many responsibilities is to find ways to motivate your employees. Many managers practice the system of using negative reinforcement to motivate their employees. This practice is out-dated and useless. Employees are rarely motivated to work more effectively by reprimanding or embarrassment. Managers unknowingly create complacent workers who work just hard enough not to get fired. It is important to understand what factors influence maximum performance for your medical office staff.

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