It’s not often that HIMSS education sessions start with such a dramatic story: When oil and gas exploration led to a population boom in Lovington, New Mexico, the number of patients coming through the doors of Nor-Lea Medical Clinic nearly doubled.
As the price of oil increased and more and more people came to work in this rural area of western New Mexico, the world was turned upside down for the town’s only healthcare provider. Month-long waits for appointments and hours-long waits in the lobby took its toll on patient, staff and provider satisfaction.
Nor-Lea Hospital District was planning a new clinic to increase its footprint and capacity, but that would take two years to build. They needed to increase capacity now in the existing 25-exam room space.
“We knew we needed to fix patient flow in our clinic, yet nothing we tried made a dent in the problem,” Hamilton told HIMSS attendees. “We just had too much volume, and I was still receiving constant patient complaints. Without data, we just didn’t know what needed to be fixed.”
“When we visited a clinic in Seattle using the same technology to improve patient flow,” Hamilton explained, “I saw how it would work. The key was data.”
Using real-time and historical data on patient wait times, provider and nurse productivity, room turnover, room utilization and more, Hamilton engaged his staff in several process improvement initiatives.
“Engaging the staff was a very important step for us. We asked them to set the goals and determine how to use the system,” Hamilton said. “I would have been happy with 30-minute wait times, but the staff decided to shoot for 10 minutes.”
And they did it — while increasing capacity nearly 50 percent. Just one year after installing Versus, the results achieved by Hamilton and staff are impressive:
- Days to receive appointment reduced 88%
- Patient wait times reduced 94%
- Physician productivity increased 88%
- Patient satisfaction increased 233%
- Physician satisfaction increased 232%
- 1st profitable year in clinic history
To see the data Nor-Lea used and the process improvements they made to increase capacity, reduce patient wait times, and improve staff, provider and patient satisfaction, download the HIMSS education session slides.