With the issue of junior doctors’ contracts dominating the headlines over the past few months, staff across the medical sector are being stretched to great lengths with a number of impacts affecting waiting times and other aspects of patient care.
As such, there has never been a more important time for hospitals and medical practices to ensure efficient working measures are in place to reduce administration time for staff, and free up time to focus on providing the best patient care possible.
Here, Lee Copestake, technical director at healthcare scheduling specialist BookWise Solutions, discusses the increasing importance of technology within the NHS and private sector in order to streamline administrative processes, allowing for more staff time to focus on patient care.
Efficiency within the medical sector is a topic that is frequently questioned by patients, family members and the media. With waiting times, staff shortages and a lack of beds a regular headline in the news, it’s little wonder this issue is regularly at the forefront of people’s minds. While general practices can vary drastically in terms of size, location and operationally, they all aim to achieve a common goal – to deliver high quality, responsive and receptive services to the local community they serve.
The challenge of tackling these issues obviously varies across different practices, depending on the demands of patients and the work undertaken by medical staff. However, regardless of the type of facility, there are always elements that can be streamlined by the use of technology.
At a standard General Practice, there may be hundreds of appointments to schedule each week, with a ratio in some areas of more than 2,000 potential patients per full time GP. During peak periods, such as flu season or a heat wave, this can create a tremendous headache for staff, particularly within those facilities using non-transparent procedures such as pen and paper booking systems. Poor room scheduling procedures should not be responsible for appointment delays or inadequate patient consultation time.
Technologies such as room scheduling software are able to maximise space capacity and resource utilisation, meaning patients can be seen faster with less time being spent on administrative tasks by medical staff. The use of software to manage more menial tasks allows time for doctors to focus on providing the best care possible and also reduces the chances of mistakes being made such as double bookings.
Some simple steps that can be taken to improve practice efficiency using technology is as follows:
Track your resources
Technology is available that allows all members of staff to track when a room is in use or when space is available. This can be particularly useful when scheduling a last minute appointment, with some packages allowing staff to check availability from a personal computer or even a smartphone.
Ensuring that information is available to all staff within the facility means that less time is wasted when it comes to handling a specific enquiry. Packages can even be automated to inform patients when a booking slot is no longer available – saving the time potentially spent by a member of staff writing a letter or making a phone call.
Keep your information secure
Saving patient records digitally can reduce the risk of any vital information being lost or human error being made. Being paperless, it is also more environmentally friendly than traditional forms of record keeping. Access rights can also be incorporated when required allowing different users the ability to view restricted areas of information.
Surpass your business targets
Technology should also be used to track your resources and cash flow moving in and out of a practice. Packages are also able to create reports to help manage finances and identify pinch points within the business where money is being lost.
While the installation of technology can result in an initial cash outlay and need for training, the long-term benefits of saving time and money will allow trusts and practices to focus on providing significantly better standards of care, resulting in happier and healthier patients.
For more information about BookWise Solutions, visit www.bookwisesolutions.com