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Urgent care workflow bottlenecks are like germs, viruses, and bacteria. These hidden threats wait around every turn to pounce on unsuspecting patients, who end up weak, tired, unproductive, and in your waiting room. You wipe out the germs and get your patients feeling great and back on track.

In the same way, urgent care clinics are susceptible to germs and viruses of their own that can result in underperformance, wasted time, and increased cost of doing business. But while it’s easy to diagnose and treat patients, determining the bottlenecks in your urgent care and finding the right prescription to fix them is not nearly as simple.

A bottleneck occurs when one process in a chain of processes is performing at limited capacity, reducing the capacity of the whole chain. In urgent care, a bottleneck not only lowers efficiency, it can slow (or stall) your revenue cycle, lower patient satisfaction, decrease morale, and increase pressure from patients who expect a quick and painless urgent care experience.

Most urgent care bottlenecks can be found buried in your processes. The only way to find them is to dive deep into the actions you take at each part of your process—starting at your front desk, in triage, and during the patient exam.

Don’t go it alone. Use our three-part Bottleneck Assessment to find those pesky process problems so you can cure them once and for all.

3-Part Urgent Care Workflow Bottleneck Assessment

For each section of this bottleneck assessment, determine your performance in each area based on current data or observation, not your best guess. If you don’t have quick access to data and reports, you may have found your first bottleneck.

Part 1: Front Desk Workflow Bottlenecks

So many tasks must be completed properly and efficiently at the front desk to ensure a smooth workflow through every encounter. This part of the process provides plenty of opportunities for bottlenecks to show up.

Use the following list of questions to identify bottlenecks at your front desk.

  • Can staff complete a new patient registration in four minutes or less?
  • Can staff complete a follow-up reservation in under two minutes?
  • Does staff collect 90 percent or more of patient copays?
  • Does staff check and collect unpaid account balances?
  • Does your PM allow you to pre-authorized credit cards and automatically charge them after the payer processed the claim?

Part 2: Triage Workflow Bottlenecks

Effective triage positively affects patient experience and providers satisfaction, shortens the length of each encounter, and reduces overall door-to-door time. It streamlines urgent care workflow bottlenecks. At its core, triage is rapid evaluation by an experienced clinician to determine complexity and priority—and determine what happens next. Triage bottlenecks can be an indication of staff inefficiency but are more commonly caused by process, system, and software issues.

Use the following questions to identify bottlenecks in triage.

  • Are staff members documenting on paper, then keying information into the actual EMR?
  • Are PM and EMR fully integrated to prevent duplicate entry?
  • Can multiple people access the chart at the same time?
  • Is free texting utilized?
  • Are common procedure templates available?

Part 3: Exam Time Workflow Bottlenecks

Doctors often view interacting with an EMR as a less-than-valuable use of their time that interferes with patient care. In short, they would rather be treating patients. It can be a difficult trade off—dividing their attention between their patient and the technology, or deferring data entry until after the patient leaves, increasing the hours in their actual workday. Cumbersome interfaces intensify their discomfort. For these and other reasons, it’s not surprising to find urgent care workflow bottlenecks at this stage of the process.

Use the following questions to identify bottlenecks during the exam.

  • Do providers complete all documentation at the time of a patient’s visit?
  • Can providers document patient encounters, order and receive lab results, ePrescribe medication, and refer to another provider within the EMR?
  • Does your EMR offer data entry shortcuts like favorites lists for one-click documentation and discharge lists?
  • Does EMR offer customizable quick pick lists?
  • Does EMR offer provider guided charts for common complaints?

Bottleneck Resolution

Efficiency is everything in urgent care. To be successful, remove the urgent care workflow bottlenecks in your processes. After you’ve assessed every step in your workflow and processes, you may determine that your urgent care is running smoothly and efficiently.

But if bottlenecks are obvious, it’s time to make some changes including the following:

  • Reallocate or replace staff to ensure you have the right people in the right jobs.
  • Reassign tasks and duties to ensure everyone on your team is using their strengths to improve productivity and workflow.
  • Retrain staff to use software and other tools available in a way that maximizes effectiveness.
  • Change policies or implement new ones to hold staff accountable and improve consistency in performance.
  • Change processes to streamline workflow.
  • Work with your EMR provider to ensure you’re maximizing current software for the best results.
  • Upgrade to a new software and services solution.

When all the changes to your current staff and processes aren’t enough, it’s time to switch to a software and services provider—like Experity—to help you find urgent care workflow bottlenecks and get on track for success.

How efficient is your EMR?

Take this Urgent Care Bottleneck Assessment to go and see if your EMR is the right solution or a bottleneck in your processes.

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