Providers face a myriad of tasks that are necessary to deliver patient care. From training staff to documenting clinic visits, maintaining clinical operations can be a challenge even for the most well-run organizations. Improving clinical workflow is less about dictating how clinicians provide care to patients and more about allowing providers to be as efficient as possible. By improving clinical workflows, clinicians can complete tasks in less time and typically with less effort. Additionally, workflow improvements can reduce the time providers spend waiting on their care team to complete tasks. Supplementary benefits include improved communication and more efficient collaboration among the care team, as well as the ability to deliver better care to more patients.
One crucial component of efficient outpatient clinic workflows is standardizing exam room setup. While it may seem trivial, exam room set up is a foundational component to improving provider efficiency and enhancing the patient-provider experience.
How an exam room is configured can have a significant impact on a provider’s ability to effectively provide care to patients. From how vital signs are taken to how the EMR is integrated into the exam room to where supplies are stored –all components of an exam room should be thoughtfully designed and consistent between exam rooms. According to a recent study on the effects of clinical exam room design, “Semi-inclusive rooms with a triangular arrangement of consultation table, sharable screens, exam table, and caregiver chair were highly preferred as they supported conversation, gazing, and information sharing.” Support staff should integrate room preparation tasks into their daily workflows. When implemented correctly, workflow redesign can improve the transitions between patient encounters, reduce wait times, and increase provider productivity and efficiency.