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How to Manage Patient Flow

Jeremy Miller, MD, Clinical Advisor, Sg2, for HealthLeaders Media, May 16, 2011
  • Standardize care as appropriate. Establish protocols for care delivery, standardized order sets and scheduled care as deemed reasonable. Standardization, protocols and scheduled care can help manage fluctuations through reductions in clinical variation and operations improvement.
  • Develop contingency plans for scheduled services when emergencies threaten to throw off the schedule.
  • Think both long-term and short-term in considering the impact of fluctuations on the clinical nature of each service line. Understand these trends to determine long-term implications, not just day-to-day operational bottlenecks and staffing decisions. In the example of obstetrics, long-term facility planning may need to take into account the monthly and daily fluctuations in postpartum census to truly understand the risks of overcapacity in new facility designs.

Analyze and understand the root cause of fluctuations, controlling what you can control and creating contingencies for what you cannot. By understanding the implications for today’s operational and staffing choices, you can best shape tomorrow’s strategic and facility planning decisions.

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