By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Improving the patient experience is one of the biggest focal points in healthcare today. Time is a person's most valuable commodity and the dreaded wait time at a physician's office can significantly impact customer service. Happy patients translate into increased loyalty and thereby protect an institution's financial security.

For three decades, Expeditor has been a pioneer in developing the world's most effective patient flow solutions that were founded on three simple goals: increase efficiency, increase revenues and provide a satisfying office environment. "The clinic environment is where we shine," President and Founder Giles Barton says. "If you are a doctor seeing as many as 40 patients a day in an exam room setting, how do you know which one is next? You have to track the nurse or office manager down and ask them. It can be chaotic for practices if they don't have a means of streamlining it."

Barton founded the Alpharetta, Ga.-based company in 1982 after working for a communications company that specialized in phone and paging systems for retailers. The communications company imploded, but Barton saw potential and founded . "Everyone who gets it loves it," he says. "Doctors want to know where in the process the patient is with a signal so they don't have to think about it, and we started developing custom lighting solutions."

Today, Expeditor boasts 37 years of patient flow efficiency experience and more than 7,000 satisfied clients. Using Expeditor's customized system, medical practices have recovered as much as 60 minutes per day per provider and increased their time with patients by 12 percent or more.

LEAN Patient Flow System
The Expeditor LEAN Patient Flow System isn't just a concept. It's a fully customized, door-to-door solution designed to help practices of all sizes increase patient satisfaction and their bottom line through gained efficiency. The company combines a light signaling system, real-time patient flow monitoring and lean clinical consulting through predictive analytics to deliver the most comprehensive solution on the market today.

Easy-to-use light panels are positioned throughout the clinic. At the press of a button, staff and physicians know exactly where they need to be next and can easily communicate where the patient is in their journey. The entire facility is viewable on a large display at the nurse's station.

The visual cues provided by the lights provide clinics a simple way to manage room sequencing and see which patient needs to be seen next, improve communication, decrease wait times and run at peak efficiency. "We surveyed customers about the benefits they got and the time they saved, which is about 30 to 45 minutes," Barton says. "We asked what they did with the time and years ago they would close early and not see any more patients. Today, practices are interested in seeing more patients with the time saved."

Achieving Performance Metrics

The Expeditor LEAN Patient Flow System collects data and presents the information in a scorecard format to each practice so they can see how they measure up against their own benchmarks. "This allows them to drill into any stage of the process and find out what happened Tuesday afternoon, for example," Barton explains. "Why was Dr. Jones slower than the other physicians? If her patients are waiting 30 minutes past their appointment time while the other doctors' patients are waiting five minutes, you can find out why."

Customized Light System
Customized Light System
Expeditor's system also communicates wait time in real-time so doctors and office staff know how far behind they are with their patient load. So, for example, if a doctor is 30 minutes behind and they want to be no more than 15 minutes late, the staff can be alerted that the patient has waited longer than expected and can go in and apologize for the delay and try to help the doctor get caught up. "We can also set that up in the waiting room so as a patient checks in, they can see their doctor is running late and manage their expectations," Barton explains. "That allows the staff to try and manage the patient's attitude toward wait times."

To continue meeting physician demands, Expeditor is developing new capabilities for its lighting system. "Our system will become more robust in terms of real-time data that people can use right now," Barton says. "Right now, the flashing light at room 4 doesn't tell you who is in there, just that there is a patient in there. Our next iteration will tell you, the user, that it's Mr. Jones for Dr. Smith and he has been in there for six minutes or this far past his appointment time. More information will be displayed and it will be more user-friendly."

Barton has noticed a significant shift from just the users understanding the benefits of Expeditor's lighting system to management taking a greater interest. "The doctors and staff that worked with patients recognized our value, but now the management level is seeing how they can get data out of it, understand how patients are being managed and how efficiently or inefficiently they are being handled in the clinics," he says. "The institutions are treating clinics like a business and they care if their patients are happy and want them to be seen more efficiently and we are able to offer that. It improves their bottom line and makes the patient - who no longer has allegiance to their physician - happier."