Self-Rooming as a Model of the Future?

Self-rooming versus traditional escorted rooming has become commonplace after the pandemic in health systems across the nation.

Reprinted with permission from Repertoire Magazine

The traditional rooming system is what most patients experience when visiting a clinician’s office. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinical offices began to implement self-rooming into their practice model.

Self-rooming is when a patient checks in and then proceeds directly to an exam room, bypassing the traditional waiting room experience of being led to an exam room by a staff member.

In October through December of 2020, a survey conducted by the Annals of Family Medicine on self-rooming preferences found that 86% of patients preferred self-rooming to traditional rooming. Over one-half of the staff surveyed also preferred self-rooming, according to the Annals of Family Medicine survey.

“Few patients felt less welcomed (10.6%), less cared about (6.8%), more isolated (15.6%), more lost/confused (7.6%), or more frustrated (3.2%) with self-rooming compared to escorted rooming.” Patients, especially those ages 65 and older and those in family medicine clinics preferred self-rooming, according to the Annals of Family Medicine.

Self Rooming Registration with RTLS

When visiting a physician’s office for an appointment, patients typically arrive, check in at the front desk, and then wait until a clinician or nurse calls them back from the waiting room to be seen by the doctor.

Benefits of self-rooming

Self-rooming decreases wait times for patients, increases patient satisfaction, and increases staff efficiency. Without the need for a staff member to call out a patient’s name and escort them to their room each time they come in for healthcare, more time can be spent by staff on other tasks to increase the overall efficiency of a doctor’s office.

“Our customers who use the self-rooming model typically have high patient satisfaction scores,” says Jeanne Kraimer, a product marketing manager for Midmark RTLS Solutions, Inc. The company’s Patient Flow Optimization solution uses real-time locating system (RTLS) technology to help facilitate clinic workflow. “Especially when paired with a collaborative care model, where various services such as phlebotomy are provided in the exam room, the efficiency gains not only mean shorter visits for the patient, it may also allow the clinic to see more patients or add providers to their schedule.”


Self Rooming

Pandemic shifts waiting room needs

During the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional waiting rooms became unsafe due to the potential for virus transmission. Health systems responded to the threat of COVID-19 spread in waiting rooms by implementing self-rooming inside buildings with traditional clinical layouts. Self-rooming during the height of the pandemic promoted increased social distancing and aimed to avoid virus transmission in waiting rooms.

“While recent events certainly increased interest in this model, we’ve been helping clinics with self-rooming since 2010,” says Kraimer. “Our customers who use this model had a head start in keeping their patients safer during the pandemic.


Future of self-rooming

Ideally, the layout of a health center would be redesigned to accommodate for self-rooming. Features such as hallways with fewer intersections and dual-access rooms could be implemented in the structure of a clinicians’ office to increase system effectiveness.

Many health systems overcame self-rooming technology concerns during the pandemic and rapidly redesigned the rooming process with little need for technology. The result was an increased use of the self-rooming system. Self-rooming has continued to be implemented as a post-pandemic feature across health systems.

“Although it isn’t necessary to implement self-rooming, having visibility into your entire clinic from a computer screen with RTLS technology can make the process easier,” Kraimer explains. “Being able to see which exam rooms are clean and available for patients, where each patient is located, which caregivers have seen them and who hasn’t seen them yet can make the daily management of self-rooming workflows quite seamless.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Repertoire Magazine and has been reprinted with permission.