Imagine going to the doctor: Arriving, very possibly with an illness or injury that is causing unease or even pain, only to sit in a waiting room, counting the minutes.
Now, imagine that, instead of having to sit in that room with other people, risking exposure to those who may themselves be ill, you are given your own room to wait in — assured all the while that a health care provider is being alerted if you’ve waited too long.
This has become the case for patients at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Verde Valley Medical Clinic Camp Verde, which has successfully rolled out a “self-rooming” technology known as the Versus Advantages Clinic patient flow solution.
From the moment someone registers for an appointment, his or her care is tracked by way of a high-tech locator badge. In addition, all health care providers working at the facility are provided badges, allowing administrators to direct employees where they are needed.
“Instead of sending patients to a traditional waiting room, front desk staff at Camp Verde review a real-time clinic floor plan to determine which exam rooms are open,” Meghann Naveau, a content manager for the developer of the technology, Midmark, said.
“A patient receives a locator badge and room number reservation. Once the patient occupies the reserved exam room, the Advantages Clinic software automatically updates .... enabling staff to easily see that the patient is ready to be seen.”
According to Camp Verde Practice Manager Carrie Ellis, the system is fully operational. A few minor technology issues regarding the locator badges have arisen, but the system operates on a real-time basis, allowing troubleshooting to occur near instantaneously.
“It was a pretty smooth integration,” Ellis said. “There are two things people really love about it: They don’t have to sit in a waiting room [and] every 15 minutes a red button will flash alerting staff that someone has been waiting .... It’s been awesome.”
Ellis added that staff goes to efforts to guarantee that patients are checked on often, which keeps patients happy and providers cognizant of their needs. To Ellis, this guarantees that, instead of removing the human element, self-rooming technology will mean increased interaction.
“When building this new clinic, NAH searched for a patient flow solution that would allow them to maximize resource utilization and clinic space to efficiently serve more than 425 patients per week,” Naveau stated.
According to Naveau, the innovation has allowed patients better access to specialty providers.
“When the orthopedic physician visits on Fridays, the Advantages application streamlines patients throughput, enabling him to care for 30 orthopedic patients within a two-hour window,” Naveau stated.
Ellis added that, in concert with proprietary analytics software, the technology allows NAH to see how efficient it is being with its material and human resources. By tracking how long patients are waiting and how long each provider meets with them, staff can adjust the variables to better serve the community.
“The doctor now sees the time ticking,” Ellis said. “It just makes life so much easier.”
Ellis assured patients that confusion with the system will be kept to a minimum. People who prefer to be walked to their exam room will be escorted.