MGMA 2019 Recap: Reshaping Outpatient Care and Access through Integrated Technologies and Patient-Centered Design

By Allen Foucht, Senior Engagement Manager of Consulting, Midmark


At MGMA19, I teamed up with Dulcye Field, former Chief Clinical Officer at Columbia Basin Health Association, to give an engaging session about impacting the delivery of care using real-time locating system (RTLS) technology and patient-centered design.

We discussed Columbia Basin’s new facility, built with the goal of uniting operations and offering a full scope of services to patients, all under one roof. They engaged an architecture firm to design the clinical environment, incorporating crucial features such as open design, natural light and ease of access. Crucial to the plan was the use of RTLS technology to provide real-time situational awareness as well as retrospective operational data for process improvement.

Dulcye and I presented how Columbia Basin aimed to achieve greater overall clinical efficiency with RTLS. At each step of the patient encounter, the team defined goals and questions that needed to be answered, many using RTLS.

  1. Improve access to care. How long do appointments take? How many appointments can we comfortably schedule during working hours? How many staff/providers are needed to attain this volume of appointments? Is there room to accommodate walk-ins?
  2. Simplify patient intake. What is the patient check-in process? When did the patient check in? Can patients room themselves? Is it easy for patients to understand their appointment structure and where they need to go? How long does intake and/or vital signs acquisition take?
  3. Optimize provider exam time. On average, how much time does a patient spend alone, waiting to be seen? How long does the provider typically spend with a patient? How is the provider moving when he/she is in the exam room with a patient? Is there excess motion that could be eliminated? How do staff know when certain parts of the visit have been completed?
  4. Streamline discharge. How long do appointments take? How are we capturing that data? How is patient visit data being used to improve future patient visits?

With clear, accurate data from RTLS to answer these questions, Columbia Basin Health Association was able to develop initiatives to increase staff productivity and patient throughput. During the MGMA19 session, we shared that Columbia Basin had Patient Experience Scores at or above 90% and Employee Satisfaction above an 80% “Excellent” rating after using RTLS.

The illustration at the beginning of this post was drawn during the MGMA19 Spark Session. It provides a great visual summary of how Columbia Basin Health Association leveraged RTLS to provide better patient care.