Streamlining patient flow – to reduce administrative burden on staff

At a meeting Orbita recently held with its Advisory Board, discussion turned to the “big problem” specialty practices struggle with most.

The resounding response was: How to make life easier for the doctor and staff by reducing administrative burden so they can spend more quality time with patients.

The strategy most likely to accomplish this is to automate patient-flow touchpoints wherever possible – especially with complex procedures like bariatric surgery. Components of this automation strategy can include:

  • Helping patients find information with a responsive digital front door or chatbot (e.g., learning about appropriate weight loss management programs and how to access them)
  • Enabling patients to self-schedule without having to phone the provider (e.g., alleviating the burden on call centers or front desk staff to achieve appropriate call deflection)
  • Digitizing intake and step-by-step preparation activities 
  • Creating dashboards so staff can monitor patients’ pre-procedure readiness (intervening only with patients needing 1-on-1 assistance)
  • Leveraging conversational AI for routine post-procedure follow-up to help with identification of potential complications and reduce readmissions

Using proven automation tools, practices can significantly reduce administrative burden and consequently improve the clinician and staff experience. This likewise allows for more time to focus on meaningful interactions with patients.

Common bottlenecks

Specialty practices often handle workflow processes manually, which takes time and effort and may introduce human error. Automating workflow reduces the workload on staff. Time currently spent on inputting data, calling health plans (e.g., prior authorization for weight loss surgery) and maintaining worklists by hand can be reallocated toward care-related activities.

Automation can also provide guidance and reassurance to patients. A bariatric practice, for example, can send reminders to patients through text, email or voice to ensure they complete essential tasks (bypass surgery education, assessment forms, etc.) promptly. Instructions, content, timelines and next steps are all handled digitally. Staff can see individual patient progress via reporting dashboards, identify those who are off-track and intervene when someone needs staff assistance (rather than engaging every patient in the pipeline).

A medical group that optimizes patient flow strategies can expect to see:

Greater productivity. Practices that effectively guide patients through paperwork, appointments, consultations and key preparatory steps improve performance, reduce unexpected scheduling gaps and operate at peak capacity. For specialty groups seeking to grow, this leads to higher patient volume and more revenue. 

Lower costs to the facility. Automation reduces costs across the board with virtual assistants fielding routine questions and helping patients find appropriate care. Digital tools virtually eliminate resource-consuming tasks like completing paperwork, verifying insurance and guiding patients through procedure prerequisites.

Speed to value – for clinical teams and patients. A streamlined process connects consumers with providers and care more quickly, and helps them navigate care pathways more easily. Administrative tools give staff members a snapshot into patient status and alerts them when an individual “gets stuck” along the way. This means procedures can be scheduled in a timely manner with lower chance of cancellations because the patient missed steps along the way.


Learn more about how Orbita’s Access Navigation and Care Navigation solutions reduce the administrative burden and improve productivity for medical specialties.