Healthcare Has an Outpatient Capacity Management Problem: Here Are 5 Ways to Fix It

Clearstep Media
Clearstep Team

With the state of inflation, persistent staffing shortages, rising labor costs, and escalating burnout, the healthcare industry can expect another year of financial challenges to continue.

According to a recent Deloitte 2023 outlook report, 85% of healthcare leaders expect staffing shortages to impact their strategy in the year ahead. Pivot or perish rings as true in healthcare operations as it does in product development.

To meet the need for revenue generation amid an unprecedented talent emergency, healthcare organizations must uncover every opportunity to increase operational efficiencies and throughput with an eye toward the promise of digital health to do so.

Outpatient capacity management is a delicate balancing act that requires a certain finesse – kind of like playing Jenga, but with human lives instead of wooden blocks. And just like Jenga, one wrong move can cause everything to come tumbling down. Triaging consumers to the right care and services using a patient-centric online tool can ensure your healthcare tower remains standing.

Here’s how the right technology can reduce the burden on your front-line staff, contribute revenue to your bottom line, and improve the patient experience.

Optimize Outpatient Capacity Management with Accurate Care Routing

1. Give patients more agency in their care journey to improve their experience. Today’s patient-consumers know their symptoms but don’t necessarily have a way to
communicate them to their healthcare providers short of making an appointment—an appointment they may not even need. Empowering patients to triage themselves using automated online chat will help them make the right appointment type with the right provider and increase satisfaction, all while reducing clinicians' time spent doing the same tasks manually.

2. Enable clinicians to practice at the top of their licenses. In 2021, 334k healthcare providers quit. There are simply not enough providers in the ecosystem to increase
patient throughput while also managing low-level administrative duties. Alleviating the administrative burden on clinicians has the added benefits of reducing one of the top contributors to physician burnout and realizing higher RVUs.

3. Minimize unnecessary ER visits for low-acuity conditions. According to Accenture, unnecessary ER visits cost the US healthcare system upwards of $47B per year, primarily due to low health literacy. However, a recent BMC Emergency Medicine article showed no difference in safety or satisfaction levels for ED patients with low-acuity conditions redirected to a local clinic using an electronic CDS tool. Guiding patients to the right care pathway using online chat is a win-win for all stakeholders.

4. Balance the healthcare quadruple aim—no matter what payment model generates the most revenue. Despite the industry’s concerted effort to transition to value-based care and alternative payment models, the reality is that more than half of healthcare payments are fee-for-service. Effective triaging matches patients to the highest-value care based on hundreds of variables, including optimizing in-network arrangements.

5. Leverage augmented intelligence to triage care with accuracy. With logic informed by Schmitt clinical content, an automated solution can guide patients toward the right care pathway when and where they need it. Additionally, manual triaging done by overworked professionals over the phone takes up valuable time the team could spend seeing patients. Further, manual processes often overlook provider preferences and in-network opportunities for care.

Step Up Your Outpatient Capacity

Whether it’s a telehealth visit or a trip to a specialist, routing your patients to the highest-value care is critical to the financial sustainability of the healthcare ecosystem.
Healthcare organizations need to increase throughput and service-line revenue without sacrificing the quality of care, even as staffing challenges continue and burnout is at an all-time high.

Matching patient-consumers with the most effective in-network care from the convenience of an AI-powered chat—similar to what they are used to in other industries—delivers on the promise of patient-centricity and can potentially increase consumer loyalty.

Find out how your organization can step up outpatient capacity using Clearstep’s Smart Care Routing™, an augmented intelligence-powered virtual triage solution that enhances patient access, increases throughput and revenue, and reduces the administrative burden on critical

Take your next step with Clearstep.

Share this Post

Interested in learning more about Clearstep Health?

Schedule a Demo

Step up your digital patient engagement strategy with Clearstep.