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May 18, 2017

3 Things That Threaten Hospital Physical Therapy Department Efficiency

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hospital physical therapyIt’s often the little and sometimes unexpected things that disrupt the flow in a hospital physical therapy department. A misplaced cart or difficulty accessing a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) can throw off the schedule for the entire day. Although issues that affect PT department efficiency vary, we’ve identified a few common factors that may prevent your day from running smoothly. Here’s what could be slowing you down, and how to fix it.

1. Communication Breakdowns

Poor communication may not be the primary reason that your department has efficiency issues, but it certainly contributes to the problem. A brief morning meeting can help you ensure everyone understands the day’s priorities and challenges. Your daily briefing can help you make sure aides know they’re expected to pitch in to cover for a sick co-worker or let your staff know hospital board members may be stopping by in the afternoon.

Meetings also offer an opportunity for therapists and aides to share concerns and offer suggestions. For example, you may not be aware that a late-arriving patient with parking issues is the reason one therapist falls behind every Tuesday. Once you have this information, correcting the problem may be as simple as making sure the patient understands free valet parking is available.

Good communication is an essential part of building a strong, connected team. When MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory studied team building, they discovered communication patterns were the most reliable way to predict the success of a team. According to the researchers, 35 percent of the variation in a team’s performance was attributed to the number of face-to-face interactions team members had with one another. The most productive groups had higher interactions than low-performing teams.

2. Technology Issues

Technology makes almost everything in life easier, from paying your bills to finding great deals on PT equipment. Unfortunately, problems with technology can impact efficiency, particularly if the software your staff must use is slow or cumbersome. If your IT department can’t tweak the program, joining forces with other department heads to request new software may be more effective than taking on the issue singlehandedly.

Sometimes the problem isn’t the technology, but a staff member’s comfort level. Difficulty navigating the EHR system or even poor typing skills can affect productivity. Mentoring employees who have EHR difficulties, offering additional training throughout the year, and paying for online typing classes can help reduce the time your staff spends on basic tasks.

3. Documentation Problems

Finding time for documentation can be a challenge in a busy hospital physical therapy department. In addition to building enough time into the daily schedule for documentation, you can also make the process easier for your therapists by providing:

  • A list of standardized terms and descriptions that should be used by all employees
  • A checklist of mandatory information
  • A flowchart that explains every step in the documentation process
  • Mentors for employees who struggle with documentation
  • Software shortcuts that predict text based on a few letters or fill in complete words when certain abbreviations are used

Improving productivity starts with a thorough assessment of your systems and processes. Once you’ve identified potential issues, you can devise a plan to improve efficiency and increase patient satisfaction without unduly burdening your staff.

Increasing department efficiency often comes down to having the right tools in place. Learn how the Dynatron Solaris Plus will help your team and your patients.

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