Process improvement in healthcare is critical to reducing costs and improving patient outcomes. It is the systematic identification and implementation of best practices to improve the quality of patient care. This ensures that patients receive the best care possible.
These improvements will only be successful if they are part of a larger effort that is supported by management and employees. Some process improvements require the use of new technology or the adoption of methodologies.
This blog post will discuss how to plan and implement process improvement in healthcare to get the best possible results for your patient and workforce.
Table of Contents
- Improve Patient Flow
- Optimize Emergency Care
- Digitize Documents and Processes
- Use HIPAA-compliant Tools
- Set and Measure Healthcare KPI
- Adopt Lean Methodologies
- Implement Process Mapping
1. Improve Patient Flow
When it comes to process improvement in healthcare, one of the most important factors is the flow of individual patients within the hospital or clinic. Healthcare organizations can reduce wait times and staff overtime by optimizing patient flow.
Evaluate your current processes and come up with possible scenarios. For example, a patient has to consult several specialists during a visit. Say the patient is a child with cancer. What are the steps that the patient needs to go through?
It might make more sense to go to the pediatrics department first instead of starting the process in oncology.
2. Optimize Emergency Care
Long wait times and patients leaving without seeing a doctor indicate overcrowding. Wait times are common in hospitals but are more critical in the emergency room. Overcrowding or long wait times in the ER increase inpatient mortality, length of stay, and costs.
But, there are ways to enhance patient care even in this hectic environment. An effective emergency department saves lives and provides patients with lifesaving care in a fast-paced and often high-stress environment.
One way to optimize patient care in the ER is to develop an efficient triage process. This process should be designed to quickly and accurately assess each patient’s condition, ensuring that those needing urgent care are seen first and that all patients receive the necessary follow-up care after leaving the ER.
3. Digitize Documents and Processes
Healthcare forms and processes are often paper-based, leading to errors and inefficiencies. One way to mitigate these problems is to digitize forms and processes. By doing so, healthcare organizations can reduce data entry errors, speed up processes, and improve patient care.
This can be done by implementing an electronic health record (EHR) system. EHRs can help healthcare organizations keep track of patients’ medical histories, medications, and test results.
In addition, digitizing forms and processes can help healthcare organizations to comply with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
4. Use HIPAA-Compliant Tools
Compliance with HIPAA ensures the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA-compliant tools, such as online forms and patient portals, help improve process efficiency and medical care.
There are many types of forms that follow HIPAA standards, including consent forms, authorization forms, and medical release forms.
HIPAA-compliant electronic signature software makes it easy for patients to sign these forms electronically. This saves time and eliminates the need for paper forms.
HIPAA-compliant tools have encryption features that protect patient data from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. When patients are secure in the knowledge that their PHI is safe, they are more likely to trust their healthcare providers and follow treatment plans.
5. Set and Measure Healthcare KPIs
Healthcare key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential tools for monitoring and improving processes in healthcare facilities. By clearly defining desired outcomes and associated metrics, healthcare providers can effectively track progress and identify areas that need improvement.
KPIs can help healthcare facilities benchmark and track their progress. Healthcare providers can ensure that they provide the best care for their patients.
When used effectively, it can help healthcare providers deliver high-quality care that meets the needs of both patients and caregivers.
6. Adopt Lean Methodologies
Lean is a process improvement methodology with the goal to eliminate waste and increase efficiency. Some of the things that lean methodologies seek to eliminate include waiting, defects, overproduction, and underutilized people.
Lean methodologies involve using clinical data to measure routine care delivery and identify best practice protocols to eliminate waste. Then, these protocols are incorporated into the way the hospital flow works.
Teams use continuous cycles to make sure that the protocols are always up-to-date. This approach results in improved care quality and decreased waste throughout the organization.
7. Implement Process Mapping
Process mapping is a visual way of representing a process. It involves creating a flowchart that illustrates the steps in a process, who is responsible for each step, and the inputs and outputs of each step.
Process mapping your hospital flow can help you spot areas for improvement. It is a valuable tool for process improvement in healthcare because it allows you to see the big picture and identify potential bottlenecks.
By mapping out the process, you can also develop process improvement ideas, such as process redesign, process improvement teams, process audits, and process control charts.
Categories of Healthcare Processes
When improving healthcare processes, the goal is to make them more effective, efficient, and patient-centered. Healthcare processes can be divided into four main categories, namely:
- Clinical care – includes all activities directly involving patient care, such as diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.
- Administrative support – includes activities such as billing and coding, scheduling, and record keeping.
- Resource allocation – determines how resources will be used to meet patients’ needs best.
- Quality assurance – refers to the efforts to ensure that healthcare services are delivered safely and effectively.
Each of these four areas is critical to the delivery of quality healthcare. By using the seven strategies listed above in every area of the healthcare process, hospitals can improve their processes and deliver better care to their clients.
Achieve Process Improvement Using Fill
Implementing process improvement in healthcare is easy with Fill. Healthcare organizations can streamline their documentation and achieve process excellence with this app’s sophisticated features.
You can use Fill to collect digital signatures and patient information more efficiently. Additionally, Fill is compliant with HIPAA and other regulations, making it a secure platform for process improvement in healthcare.
See how Fill can help your organization improve its overall process. Get a demo today and take another step to achieve patient satisfaction.