Forecasting: Using Patient Journey Management to Future-Proof Your Outpatient Clinic

Forecasting: Using Patient Journey Management to Future-Proof Your Outpatient Clinic

Paul Paez |December 14 2022 8 min

The challenges of running an outpatient clinic are numerous, variable, and often relentless. Depending on the size of your facility, the number of services offered, daily patient volume, and the size of your workforce, getting a handle on how to best manage all the moving parts can be exhausting. This is especially true considering your operational objectives to improve productivity while reducing staff stress and enhancing the patient experience and quality of care.

So, what can you do to get it all this under control? There’s an old saying among engineers. “If you measure it, it will improve.”

If you want to improve the operations of your clinic, you need to track and measure every step of the patients’ journeys throughout your operation. This isn’t data typically collected by your Electronic Health Records (EHR) application. Those tools are meant to track the patient’s healthcare data, not their experience. What is required is a tool that can track the patient journey from the moment your patient books an appointment, to every step in their journey on site, to post visit feedback and engagement.

The tool we’re talking about is a patient journey management platform, and more specifically, the patient analytics capabilities of that platform that make it easier to measure and forecast patient flow, resource requirements and operational performance.

Here’s why.

The importance of patient analytics

Without this analysis, knowing how to reduce wait times or how many people you will need to provide an optimal level of service, becomes a game of assumptions. However, with access to patient analytics, you could identify ways to optimize and even automate current workflows to improve quality of care.

Patient analytics facilitates the extraction of insights by consolidating all touchpoints into a single dashboard. In doing so, it helps you separate patient events so you can dig deeper into each experience to identify the bottlenecks in your operations, enabling you to better answer questions such as:

  • How many patients do you service daily?
  • What are your high foot traffic days?
  • How long do patients wait to get care?
  • How long do staff require to perform their service?
  • How much time are staff burdened with administrative tasks vs delivering care?
  • What are the most in-demand care services?
  • What rooms/departments experience the most demand?
  • How do patients feel about their experience?
  • What’s the patient history with your outpatient clinic?
  • How many patients can your care provider see in a day?

Answering these with patient analytics empowers you to make the right decisions to run your clinic more efficiently.

So, how specifically can you use patient analytics to accomplish this goal.

5 Ways Patient Analytics Help You Run your Clinic More Smoothly

As an outpatient clinic, it’s safe to say that no two days in your facility are the same — especially for walk-in services, urgent care or allied services like the blood draw lab, imaging and outpatient pharmacies. This level of ambiguity makes it hard to resource plan and sustain care delivery at optimal levels.

Patient analytics dispels the ambiguity and provides the level of stability you and your staff need to meet patient demand. Here are a few ways patient analytics enables you to run your clinic more smoothly.

Enables you to predict patient load

Knowing how many patients you can expect in a day, week, or month makes staff allocation easier. Patient analytics enables this by using historical data to produce an estimated number of patients to expect for a specified time period. Based on this information, you can optimize the mix of appointment and walk-in visits.

Improves the allocation of staff members

With clear insights into your patient flow, you know also how many people you need on staff each day, and even each hour. Using historical data, patient analytics can provide you with forecasted demand for care services and rooms, allowing you to plan resources and distribute workload evenly between peak and quiet times.

Enhances the use of resources and facilities

Do you have more than one waiting room? Could you benefit from having more consultation rooms? Are there multiple reception workstations that can be consolidated into one? With patient analytics, understanding how your facility is being used becomes clearer. You can then leverage this information to manage your resources in a way that will deliver more value to your patients.

Boosts staff performance and satisfaction

It has been proven that staff engagement directly impacts the patient experience. By using patient analytics to distribute workload evenly, you can directly impact staff satisfaction by reducing the stress of an overloaded workday. Likewise, patient analytics enables you to see what workflows and processes can be automated or simplified, which pays dividends in having happy and engaged employees, who are easier to attract and retain.

Optimizes operations

Analyzing data points such as booked appointment times and the actual time it takes to deliver care can give you insights into whether or not your appointment slots are realistic. You can then update your time slots accordingly to better manage demand.

Getting started with patient analytics

Measuring the patient journey for outpatient clinics can be overwhelming. But the benefits far outweigh the effort it takes to get your hands on these insights. Not only can patient analytics help you drive a better patient experience, it can also enable you to attain cost savings by maximizing the use of your resources and obtaining efficiency gains.

So, if you want to future-proof your outpatient clinic for tomorrow, measure and analyze your patients’ journey today.

If you’re interested in exploring how you can further improve the patient experience, check out our blog, How to improve the patient experience, or download our Patient Journey Management Guide to learn more.

Download the Patient Journey Management Guide

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