Patient flow technology: How it adds value and aids resource reallocation

March 1, 2021

How Klinik’s patient flow technology and AI triage helps practices to increase appointment capacity and optimise resource allocation.

We believe that patient flow is central to the successful delivery of healthcare.

The term ‘patient flow’ refers to the ability of healthcare systems to manage patients effectively and with minimal delays as they move through stages of care, according to NHS Improvement.

It is a concept that often is associated with emergency departments, but to us it starts with primary care.

GP surgeries are perfectly placed to point patients to the right type of care. Family doctors understand the needs of the people they serve.

Patient flow means optimising resource allocation, by getting the right patient to the right professional in the best way possible. In general practice, this means using clinical and non-clinical roles in the most effective way possible to deal with the plethora of queries they get every day.

Aided by AI triage technology analysing patient requests, GPs can get real-time support in assessing clinical need and urgency. Patient flow technology can then aid the redirection of patients to other members of the care team.

Why is patient flow important?

Patient flow is the key ingredient for successful healthcare. Dr. Eugene Litvak, a noted expert in the field, suggests that greater attention to the issue of patient flow would “accelerate progress toward reliable, safe, efficient care.”

In its study of flow at two NHS hospital trusts, the Health Foundation noted a correlation between poor flow and mortality and higher costs. When the hospitals improved flow, they saw a reduction in mortality.

NHS Improvement noted that ‘health and social care systems that have adopted best practice to improve flow find themselves much better able to cope with external pressures than those that have not’. Getting flow right brings job satisfaction, reduces stress and improves patient outcomes.

How do we get this right? Good practice studies show that patient flow needs to involve matching demand to supply using a whole team approach that is driven by having the right patient information from the start.

How patient flow technology can help

Klinik’s AI triage and patient flow management technology is built to provide the best in patient flow - for the practice, the patient, and the wider healthcare system. It frees up capacity so GPs can see those who most need their care, and other members of the team can work with the most relevant patients. The most expensive clinical resources do not have to do jobs that can best be done by others.

The system captures consistent patient information online or through practice call handlers. It then uses clinically-supervised AI triage algorithms to indicate the urgency and priority of each case. Clinicians and their colleagues can then review care recommendations, and use the patient flow technology to redirect patients to specific ‘units’ of healthcare provision.

It is the approach that Roxbourne Medical Centre is undertaking, using Klinik to allocate patients to practice nurses, pharmacists or physios. Admin teams can deal with many routine requests, freeing up clinical time to focus on those most in need.

Patient queries can be dealt with more quickly and effectively. “Klinik has allowed us to triage clinical presentations efficiently. We have been able to resolve many clinical problems at the point of contact in a much quicker time. This has given additional clinical time to offer 20 minute appointments and focus on more complex patients,” says Spencer Quick, GP at Praze and Connor Downs Surgery.

The impact of patient flow technology

Patient flow technology, combined with AI triage, releases appointment capacity for practices, and gives them the ability to give complex cases the time they need. It means practices can ‘manage patients effectively and with minimal delays as they move through stages of care’ - the very definition of good patient flow.

It is not just patients that benefit; staff also feel the positive impact.

As Joseph Banns, GP, Park Lane Surgery, notes: “Appointment demand before was at around 96% of total capacity. With Klinik, it is at around 74%. The practice can allocate cases to a different resource where necessary and GPs are now seeing patients that need to be seen. Although those cases can be trickier, a lot more job satisfaction is gained.”

Patient flow technology does not need to stop as soon as the patient enters the practice’s (virtual) front door. As we have discussed before, patient flow technology can share demand across health and care ecosystems at local or regional levels. It is the model in use in our native Finland, and can be applied at primary care network or integrated care system level.

We believe that if we get patient flow right in primary care, we can get patient flow right across whole system. It becomes the clinically-driven gateway to integrated care that delivers the outcomes that patients, practices and politicians expect.

What next

Contact us for a demo to see how patient flow technology can help your practice.

Klinik Access is an online consultation & patient flow management software that directs patients to the optimal resource in primary care. The system’s unique algorithm interprets the person’s symptoms to make a provisional assessment, and estimates the urgency of the care needed. Based on this, the person is automatically referred to the right place for care to begin.

"Even our most ardent doubters have seen that demand can be successfully managed with online triage."
Martin Eades, Managing Partner
Priory Medical Group
"We understand our patients like never before. We now have data on the true demand we face in general practice. We have the tools to share that workload across the whole primary care network."
Martin Eades, Managing Partner
Priory Medical Group
"We are seeing 8,000 more patients compared to the same time last year thanks to Klinik, and doing so with the same level of resources."
Martin Eades, Managing Partner
Priory Medical Group
“The system enables our clinicians to review the information provided by patients, and provides a suggested priority level. This allows us to ensure we have the patient see the right person at the right time.”
Dr. Azhar Ali, Managing Partner
Forth Medical Group
"Together with Klinik, we have invested the energy to make it the way we want it to be, and now we are seeing the results.”
Dr Sarmad Zaidi
Roxbourne Medical Centre
“Now Klinik is in place, we don’t ever want to go back. Our reception staff feel less pressured to act according to patient expectations, and the whole team feels that they are better placed to deal with all incoming queries. We can breathe now.”
Trupti Chauhan, Operations Manager
Roxbourne Medical Centre
"Now we know what the demand is, we can see what changes need to be made, and we can manage expectation and optimise the journey for every patient. We can assign the right level of resources to deal with the enquiry, and use the most expensive resource where it’s most effective."
Trupti Chauhan, Operations Manager
Roxbourne Medical Centre
“Feedback from other practices using the system was very positive, especially how responsive the company was to people’s needs.”
Dr Michael Curran, GP partner
Church Street Medical Centre
“For any other practice I would say this would make a valuable addition to the practice. In the current environment, it is becoming essential to have an efficient triage service that can assess risk and identify urgency, so that care can be given according to need, rather than demand. I would strongly recommend this to any GP practice.”
Dr Michael Curran, GP partner
Church Street Medical Centre
"With the Klinik online consultation service, we can now get the correct patient to the correct point of care in the most efficient way."
Dr Thomas Patel-Campbell
Haxby Group