The emerging role of Patient Flow Coordinator can make a vital contribution that encompasses far more than ensuring bed capacity requirements are met (although they do that too).
Adept at strategy, resource management and communication, Patient Flow Coordinators (or Managers) also:
- efficiently manage resources
- ensure effective admissions and discharge policies are in place
- use software to monitor and evaluate processes and outcomes
- lead the development, implementation and continual improvement of patient flow
- engage and steer teams
- optimise patient safety and experience
- define and communicate local patient flow objectives
- liaise with managers, divisional nurses, matrons and directors to develop service, capacity and winter plans – and report frequently on progress
The position often calls for a Registered General Nurse Level 1 or other Registered Clinician with previous bed management/site management experience. Ideally, they have experience managing Delayed Transfer of Care (DToC) cases and a track record of having met challenging healthcare/business targets.
Supports the clinical teams
The ultimate objective of the role is to improve communication and coordination within and between wards, departments, clinical teams and even with services outside the hospital. Even if the focus is ED, it’s key to take a holistic view in order to best assist the ED Co-ordinator, clinicians and nursing staff with the management of all patient attendances, admissions and discharges.
When The Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust completed an evaluation of the role, after nine months, it found a “better organised and calmer department” with nurses able to concentrate on clinical duties and more nurse-led assessments:
“The Patient-Flow Coordinator acts as a lubricant, central to the healthy functioning and smooth running of the EAA (Emergency Assessment Area). Even the most sceptical staff appear to have been convinced of its merit.”
Leverages patient flow technology and data
The job requires finger-on-the-pulse reaction, as well as longer-term strategic analysis and development. Both are made more achievable with the use of digital solutions, so an effective Patient Flow Coordinator leverages patient flow software to enhance their role in a number of ways:
- Viewing hospital bed status at a glance – with the ability to drill down to ward level, thus ensuring patients are admitted to the correct department from the outset, improving patient care with faster and safer outcomes.
- Quickly and easily identifying outliers at both hospital and ward level. Outliers can also be identified by speciality.
- Ascertaining the numbers of predicted demand, including pre-booked in-patients and unscheduled care from A&E, allowing them to plan ahead. What’s more, software provides predicted bed availability, including planned and confirmed discharges, making it easier to identify and predict pressures points beforehand so the Patient Flow Coordinator can take the required corrective action.
- Fast identification of delayed discharges gives Patient Flow Coordinators the opportunity to address the causes of delays before demand exceeds availability.
- Red to Green functionality highlights patients who could have flowed faster and more safely through the service (which would have increased capacity). Patient Flow Coordinators can use this information to focus on targeted strategic improvements in operational processes.
- Making faster referrals to community and social services and minimising inappropriate referrals.
- Using Trust-configurable forms to support Integrated Discharge Team working.