Who’s Afraid of a Patient Itinerary? If Your Hospital Is, Then Read This

Disney gets it: The more we know, the less frustrating it is to wait. In a Disney theme park line, you always know much wait time remains–and they usually get you on the ride sooner than the posted time.

For hospitals and their patients, this psychology of waiting affects a lot more than anticipating the thrills of Space Mountain. Patients are much more satisfied when they know what to expect during their stay and when. And those happier patients boost HCAHPS scores.

Our Order Logistics solution addresses this key to patient satisfaction by providing a clear patient itinerary for each day. The patient (and family and caregivers) sees when all care activities and procedures are scheduled. Here’s an example:


We’ve recently heard two interesting questions about the patient itinerary:

(1) Will it frustrate patients more if they see things get shifted or delayed on their itineraries? No. Research shows that people understand and forgive reasonable delays as long as they stay informed.  It’s much better to have a patient mildly frustrated but aware when a procedure is pushed back on the agenda than to spend his or her entire hospital stay in the dark.

(2) Does a hospital really want the accountability of providing a specific schedule to patients for care and services? Our answer: The hospital had better embrace that accountability or it has much bigger problems to address. We heard this question asked another way: “Aren’t some hospitals going to worry about setting specific expectations for the patient if they keep falling short of meeting them?”

First of all, for the sake of quality care and happy patients, any hospital should welcome a system that identifies and clearly outlines the patient care itinerary. (We note here that the system aim of many of our partner hospitals starts with “patients first”–and the patient itinerary strongly reflects that commitment. Here’s another interesting perspective about the evolution of patient-first care, with analogies to retail experience a reference to the model set by Cleveland Clinic.)

And what if the items on those itineraries keep changing or being rescheduled? That would indicate unreliable delivery of expected care, a problem hospital executives should want to know and address head on. It’s just another way that a system based on order and logistics can highlight sometimes hidden problems hospitals must address. It’s exactly the type of issue that executives can identify and fix quickly when rounding with the hospital teams. The processes and tools of a logistical control system for patient throughput give frontline caregivers and executives the live information they need, when they can act on it, to continuously improve care delivery and quality. Over time, those patient itineraries will become predictable and reliable–and that’s the primary operational goal for every hospital.

POSTED BY Doug Walker

3 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of a Patient Itinerary? If Your Hospital Is, Then Read This

  1. Pingback: Teaching for the Test: Do Some Patient Satisfaction Efforts Hurt More Than They Help? | Care Milestones

  2. Pingback: Sharing Really is Caring: New Tools Keep Patients and Families Informed, Healthy and Happy | Care Milestones

  3. Pingback: Implementing Efficient Order Coordination for Hospitals | Care Milestones

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