ED-CAHPS is coming: 3 strategies to ensure success

Emergency Department Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems is coming soon. How can hospitals implement practical strategies to ensure the best patient care possible and achieve optimal scores?

What is ED-CAHPS?
CMS initiated CAHPS as a measure to improve the nation's quality of care by evaluating patient perception in various segments of the healthcare realm. The ED is the "front door" of the hospital, and a patient's perception of care in an ED is a significant indicator of his or her overall hospital experience. CMS has recognized this and initiated ED-CAHPS as the next mandated survey in order to push for improvement in patient care in EDs.

According to the Studer Group, less than 50 percent of hospitals reported active preparation for the implementation. While the final timeline for survey implementation has not been announced by CMS, the survey is coming, and the time to start preparing is now. Here are three practical strategies that hospitals can implement to help improve patient satisfaction in the ED.

1. Reimagine the front end of the ED. There is a widely held but inaccurate belief that because emergency care is unscheduled, EDs cannot accurately prepare for or anticipate patient volumes. A recent study by the International Journal of Emergency Medicine helped debunk this myth by showing that publishing ED information can reduce wait times.

Many options are available to help patients make more informed decisions when it comes to unscheduled care. Mobile patient health applications enable patients, family members and caregivers to access real-time data on their mobile phones, tablets and other devices. They have access to treatment location options and live ED wait times, and they can even pre-register before arrival. EDs that implement this kind of technology see a boost in productivity, efficiency and ultimately patient satisfaction.

2. Make better use of existing resources. The first step to better utilizing existing resources is to accurately evaluate key metrics at multiple points in the care process. In order to improve throughput, hospitals will often increase square footage or add more beds, but this is costly and does not solve underlying throughput issues. Comprehensive data from multiple points in the care process for inflow, throughput and outflow will allow hospitals to understand existing resource utilization and identify bottlenecks. Data is empowering, and  many hospitals will be able to significantly decrease wait times and optimize throughput rates by better allocating existing resources. EDs that are run efficiently result in shorter wait times and increased patient satisfaction.

3. A better handoff goes a long way. Properly managed patient care transitions for discharged patients improve clinical outcomes. By connecting a patient with their next care provider prior to leaving the ED, the patient is more likely to receive appropriate follow up care and have a positive clinical outcome.  Technologies such as electronic prescribing and automated handoffs can improve patient outcomes and reduce avoidable readmissions. There are some exciting new technologies available that can automate a care team's workflow by flagging high-risk patients and ensuring proper follow-up care.

Robin Shannon, RN, MN, MBA is director of documentation solutions forT-System, responsible for helping maintain the core clinical content and intuitive workflow design in T-System's documentation solutions and leveraging those core competencies to drive performance-enhancing solutions for emergency departments. She manages cross-functional teams to deliver high-quality and high-value solutions that improve outcomes for clinicians, hospitals and patients. Robin is a member of the Quality, Value and Performance Committee for EDPMA.

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