Using Patient-Centered Workflow Designs to Improve the Patient Experience

Julie Heinrichs, Sr. Marketing Manager  

Many healthcare organizations and caregivers are realizing that better care starts with a better clinical environment design. This realization is helping drive a renewed focus on the point of care experience. There is greater understanding on how long wait times or accessibility challenges can negatively impact a patient’s experience as well as the quality of care provided. When patients feel safe, comfortable and empowered, better outcomes are more attainable.


By evolving exam room and workflow design approaches, healthcare organizations can facilitate a better experience for both patients and caregivers. In fact, there are two patient-centered workflow designs gaining traction in ambulatory care that can greatly enhance the point of care experience.


Collaborative Care Model

The collaborative care model keeps patients at the center of the care experience by delivering ancillary services within the exam room. This model is an embodiment of a patient-centric approach to the delivery of care, providing structure for caregivers to more closely collaborate on patient care plans.


Traditionally, patients move through various locations of the facility during visits, often for diagnostic testing or other ancillary services. By allowing patients to remain in one place and consolidating visits as much as possible, care teams are decreasing patients’ overall length of stay while improving access and efficiency. Patients receive services within the same exam room, rather than moving from location to location. By bringing ancillary services to the patient, time in the clinic is optimized and the overall patient experience can be less stressful.


Additionally, limiting movement throughout the facility can also limit patient exposure to potential contagions by minimizing the areas and the staff they come into contact with during the visit. It can also limit the opportunity for increased transmission if they are later determined to have a contagion.


Self-Rooming Model

The self-rooming (or direct rooming) model has patients move directly to the exam room, allowing organizations to eliminate waiting areas to improve the point of care experience and maximize exam space. In light of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, this model has also been touted as an effective way to minimize the transmission of infectious diseases and exposure to contagions.


With this model, patients check in for appointments and proceed directly to an exam room or diagnostic sub-waiting location either on their own or escorted by staff. Patients often receive locator badges at check-in, and staff use software to identify which rooms are clean and ready for a new patient. Upon patient entry into the room, the software automatically notifies the care team of their arrival.


The elimination of the waiting room can be a strong tool in infection prevention efforts. Crowded, common waiting areas are often an ideal environment for exposure to contagions, especially during a pandemic or flu season.


By focusing on the patient, these designs enable caregivers to more easily place the care experience at the center of ambulatory care. When patients and staff feel safe, comfortable and empowered, better outcomes are more attainable.