Westfriesgasthuis is rated as the most user-friendly hospital in the Netherlands and has received a five-star rating. “The fact that we can keep our stars confirms that we are still doing things right”, says CEO Arno Timmermans. “Of course, our employees and volunteers deserve most of the credit. User-friendliness is not just window-dressing. Every day, they are there to give our patients the attention they deserve.”
How did they do it? By totally focusing on patients. Among other things, this means that people who come in to have a blood sample taken no longer have to queue up at the counter. Instead, they are welcomed by Qmatic.
Agatha Koppes is the hands-on team leader of the clinical chemistry lab, which includes blood sampling. “We handle all blood tests and other tests on bodily fluids – for patients in our own hospital, and sometimes on behalf of other hospitals in the region, and for people who are referred by an outpatient clinic or a medical practice.” The lab looks more like a scene from CSI than a chemistry lab. No Bunsen burners but rather advanced equipment operated by a large staff of professionals. “Including the external sampling for anticoagulation clinics, we have over 110 employees here”, says Koppes. “We need them all because we handle about 350 to 450 people a day just for the blood sample outpatient clinics in the Westfriesgasthuis, five days a week.”
Relatively simple Qmatic systems guide patient streams through the outpatient blood sample clinics, but the Westfriesgasthuis has also implemented a highly automated Qmatic patient journey system. “We were planning to remodel, and that was a good time to review our work processes. In addition, the hospital wanted to reduce the number of counters.” At first glance, that may seem to contradict the user-friendliness concept, but according to Koppes, that is absolutely not the case.
“If you work using service counters, patients have to provide information several times over. First of all, at the counter, and again when it’s their turn. What’s more, there’s almost always a queue at the counter, no matter how often you tell people they can sit down and wait to be called. Another thing is that patients who visited the blood sample clinic had to be checked twice when it was their turn: for registering at the counter and for taking the actual blood sample. To make it really easy for patients, they are welcomed at the Qmatic kiosk by a host or hostess who explains the options and answers any questions. That’s a nice combination of modern technology and old-fashioned service.”
With the advent of the new Qmatic system, the counter has been removed. That eliminates a lot of watching for your number and makes quite a bit of extra space available in the waiting room. Koppes: “When patients come in, they type in the reason for their visit at the Qmatic kiosk. Just a blood sample, or also an X-ray? Or something to be handed in? Then they take a seat in the waiting room, and on the monitors they can see when it’s their turn and which sampling room they should go to. There, they are welcomed by an employee who first enters all the patient data into the computer system and then takes the blood sample. That is much more convenient because people only have to keep track once when it is their turn. It also calms things down because there’s no crowding around the counter. For the staff, it is nice to have personal contact with the patients. It also saves a lot of walking because staff members no longer have to go to the counter to see whether a particular treatment has already been done.”
“I expect the times to drop because we can send patients to specific sampling stations with the Qmatic platform. For instance, we can distinguish between urgent and non-urgent cases. We are working closely with Qmatic to finetune the platform.” And what do the laboratory staff think of the system? “People always complain a bit about any change, but it didn’t take long for everyone to become very enthusiastic. For example, because there’s more variety in their work now. You enter data, and you take blood samples.
They also like personal contact with the patients. Quite frankly, up to now, I have not heard any negative feedback about the Qmatic system. We sometimes see patients looking for the counter, but after a couple of months, that has practically died out. In short, we are very satisfied with the Qmatic solution.”
Westfriesgasthuis is a modern, mid-size hospital located in the Netherlands, and has a long history of high patient satisfaction level and a continuous drive for excellence.
Not an optimal patient flow
Many service counters
Long lines at the counters