4 Strategies Hospitals Are Using to Optimize Patient Flow

Here are four strategies hospitals are using to optimize patient flow.

1. Combining technology with redesigned processes. "New advances in tracking technologies enable hospitals, combined with the practical expertise needed to redesign the patient flow process and overcome cultural obstacles to change, can free up as much as 20 percent more bed space by squeezing wasted time out of the process of moving the patient from admissions to placement, and ultimately, discharge," says Lisa Romano, RN, MSN, vice president and CNO of TeleTracking Technologies.

2. Allowing non-emergent patients to wait for the ED at home. A program called InQuicker can predict when peak visits in the emergency department will occur and can schedule non-emergent patients during non-peak hours. "We can provide more services to more people with the same resources," says Robert Steele, MD, emergency medicine physician at Loma Linda (Calif.) University Medical Center and CMO of InQuicker.

3. Requiring the ED to see or discharge patients within four hours.
A study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that this policy decreased ED overcrowding at tertiary hospitals from 40 percent in 2009 to roughly 10 percent in 2011.

4. Expanding the ED. St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, N.Y., will soon open a new emergency department that is three times the size of the hospital's previous ED. Similarly, Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando doubled the size of its pediatric ED to accommodate greater volumes.

Related Articles on Capacity Management:

Study: Affordable Care Act May Lower ED Utilization, Inpatient Costs
Whittier Street Health Center's New $37M Facility More Than Triples Capacity

Study: ED Overcrowding Does Not Lower Residents' Perception of Educational Value

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