Patient flow is a major concern for hospitals and healthcare providers. When patient flow is obstructed, long delays can deter patients from obtaining the consultation and treatment they need. That has a negative impact on a healthcare provider’s bottom line, and can put beneficiaries’ health at risk.
Improving patient flow must be a priority for hospitals, healthcare providers, and managed care organizations (MCOs). While gathering better data can point stakeholders toward solutions, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) data can provide valuable insight into discharge practices and where they fall short.
Hospitals and medical facilities that operate efficiently can discharge patients in a timely fashion and turn over available beds. Conversely, organizations that struggle with patient flow can be easily inundated by people waiting to speak with a doctor or receive treatment. These individuals may decide to leave if they have to wait too long, putting their health at risk.
Waiting rooms can fill up quickly when appointment scheduling and facility operations are not tightly coordinated; that can overwhelm administrative staff and caregivers, leading to a lower quality of care and a worse patient experience—a vicious cycle.
Without direct intervention into patient flow obstructions, these vicious cycles can only continue.
Healthcare providers need to address how their discharge practices affect overall patient flow. A key piece is consistent and reliable NEMT solutions. It’s not unusual for someone to be discharged from a medical facility without a ride home. When that happens, they may be forced to stay longer hours, even overnight, taking up a hospital bed that should go to a patient awaiting treatment.
Even Medicare beneficiaries that have NEMT services available may run into problems if they can’t schedule trips on an as-needed basis. It can be difficult to predict how long even a simple physical will take — especially if patient flow is already a significant issue — and NEMT users might schedule their return trip for the wrong time, or wait until their appointment is over to set up a ride home.
If your NEMT manager doesn’t support 24/7 scheduling, beneficiaries could be left in the lurch, taking up a hospital bed or dialysis chair as they wait for their ride. Patients should be able to schedule a trip home whenever they need it and expect a driver to arrive without delay.
Of course, the patient flow cycle begins long before discharge, and NEMT can help prevent a logjam at the front end. Consider what happens if a patient shows up late to a dialysis session: They’re not going to be turned away from receiving this critical treatment, but facility administrators will have to choose either giving that patient a shorter treatment — which impacts their health —or pushing the next patient back to accommodate them.
These instances have a domino effect, causing further delays and requiring technicians and nurses to stay well past their regular shifts. Staff working unexpected longer hours can be a major drain on facility resources, especially those that run on very tight budgets.
NEMT solutions should provide ample transportation data to analyze patient discharge trends and spot issues that affect patient flow. For instance, if a transportation provider continually misses pickups or arrives late, NEMT data can uncover that situation.
Having greater visibility into NEMT can also help healthcare providers better align their operations with NEMT services. Knowing precisely when a patient is slated to arrive at the facility and be picked up after their appointment helps administrators schedule accurately and efficiently.
Plus, real-time NEMT visibility lets healthcare providers see if a patient is en route to the facility, will be late, or is likely a no-show. That takes much of the guesswork out of scheduling and allows staff members to plan accordingly.
NEMT technology is a huge boon for MCOs, healthcare providers, and beneficiaries. The most advanced NEMT solutions provide an incredible amount of visibility for everyone involved, removing confusion, allowing healthcare processes to run efficiently, and greatly improving the patient experience. Modivcare’s revamped NEMT platform offers unparalleled monitoring capabilities, allowing real-time visibility on a macro or micro level. Using GPS, stakeholders can see precisely where a driver is, providing ample time to plan around expected delays.
The Modivcare NEMT platform also produces an incredible amount of data to inform healthcare decision-making, helping to create a better patient experience.
Are you interested in learning more about how Modivcare can help your organization improve patient flow? Request a demo