Australia’s private healthcare sector is benefiting from technology that uses web-based systems to ensure quality of care is at the core of the patient experience.

The patient scheduling technology, Q-Flow, extends beyond queue management to enable surgeons and other hospital staff to accurately monitor the time they spend with each patient to improve patient scheduling and reduce waiting times. Surgeons and other staff can check appointment schedules and patient flow remotely from a smart phone, bringing a new level of accessibility to the healthcare industry.

This technology has already been embraced in the United States at the privately-run Centre for Orthopaedics in Louisiana. Dr John Noble from the Centre said the implementation of Q-Flow two years ago has improved efficiency at all levels to dramatically enhance patient care. With a catchment area of 300,000 people, the Centre has grown from 10,000 visits to 47,000 in the past two years and from four specialist providers to 12.

“Q-Flow has helped us focus on providing patient-centred, not doctor-centred care,” Dr Noble said. “It’s not a replacement for face to face interaction, but rather a way for us to drastically improve our patient flow and appointment scheduling, enabling us to spend more time with patients to recapture the personal aspect of the service, which has been lost in some areas of health care.”

In Australia, Q-Flow assists staff at Victoria’s Cabrini Medical Imaging Department to manage 100,000 patient procedures annually.  Marion Sitter, Manager – Medical Imaging, said the system has been operational for the past 18 months.

“With five reception areas and between 300 and 350 patient presentations per day, the system was installed to overcome long queues and reduce stress on front-line staff,” Marion said. “Given that the majority of patients are aged 60 plus, this technology has dramatically enhanced patient care by removing the need for them to stand in long queues.

“We can also track average wait times, so there is the potential analyse this data and improve patient scheduling sometime down the track.” The patient response to Q-Flow been excellent, Marion added.

“It is the same system used in Medicare offices around Australia so our patients are very familiar with it. Mostly, they appreciate not having to stand in long queues.”

Dr Noble in the US said that the system’s capabilities will be further explored in the next 12 months at the Centre.

“We will analyse the Q-Flow data against approximately 20 patient categories such as age, morbidity, medical history and current medical issue to determine the average time per patient from the moment they enter our facility until the moment they leave. This can allow us to virtually eliminate waiting times, outside of unforseen issues,” he said.

Danny Guillory, a senior systems engineer from the Centre, is currently looking at further developments to enhance the patient experience, including installing the Q-Flow system on two iPads for new patient check in and introducing a pre-triage screen, which will encourage patients to rank their pain threshold on a scale of one to 10. This data will assist clinicians in managing patient care.

Dr Noble said that the installation of technology has been instrumental in the Centre’s growth.

“Our advanced technology was one of the key reasons we secured a new tender recently to provide sports medicine to athletes from the McNeese State University. The contract was formerly held by one of the local public hospitals,” Dr Noble said.

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