Patient Flow Software Blog

Managing | Patient Flow | from the Emergency Department

Posted by Ron Gregg on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 @ 01:55 PM

patient placement

A recent study of hospital CEOs¹ showed that financial challenges remain their biggest concern. Much of the concern relates to continuing systemic changes resulting from healthcare reform.
The financial benefits derived by the significant increase in insurance coverage of previously uninsured patients is potentially offset by reduced government payment levels under Medicare and Medicaid, pressures to move toward a value-based care model, and collection issues resulting from high deductible insurance plans.
These changing currents emphasize the essential need for hospitals to continually improve the efficiency of their operations. One increasingly important area of operations is the emergency department because of its growing role as the primary entry portal for inpatient treatment, the main source of revenue for most hospitals.
A RAND Corporation study² found that the combined effects of steady growth of ED visits and fewer inpatient beds have caused: 

  • Extended ED lengths of stay 
  • Dramatically increased number of patients in hospital EDs at any hour of the day 
  • Compromised patient safety and, potentially, worse patient outcomes

As provider reimbursement shifts from fee-for-service to value-based care, hospitals will be incentivized to avoid preventable inpatient admissions rather than encourage them. At that point, hospital administrators will shift from encouraging their ED staff to admit “borderline” patients to urging their ED staff to keep them out. In the meantime, it is essential for a hospital's revenue stream that ED patients are moved to appropriate acute care beds as efficiently as possible.
Information both about the incoming patient and current bed statuses in the hospital is the key. This information must be available simultaneously, in real-time, on a computerized user interface to be effect. Patient information, such as gender, age, level of care requirements, medical service, diagnosis, and isolation requirements can then be matched to beds meeting that criteria and placement personnel can see if the beds are clean and ready for occupancy, or when they will become available.
Even for smaller hospitals, this capability can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.
Not only does the technology we provide at Patient Focus Systems offer the key information described above for pre-admit patients, but it also applies to patients already admitted to the ED, PACU or ICU that need to be transferred to an acute care bed. It also integrates with our patient transportation system and our discharge bed cleaning system to address all aspects of patient flow:

  • Notices for bed cleaning needs
  • Identifying appropriate beds for incoming patients
  • Placing patients into beds more quickly & efficiently
  • Moving patients between their rooms and diagnostic/clinical areas

 With this kind of technology, a 150-bed hospital could expect to increase their annual capacity to service patients by almost 3 FTEs (clinical and transportation) and by 190 available bed/days per year. 

The potential benefit for CEOs from the application of this technology to the various phases of the flow of patients through the hospital equates to more efficient use of staff resources and more availability of beds for revenue generation. In a time when managing Emergency Departments is more crucial than ever before, improving patient flow should be at the top of the list for hospital CEOs.

For more information contact:
Mary Cooper 

¹BHM Healthcare Solutions

²The Evolving Role of Emergency Departments in the United States, 2013

Topics: patient transportation software, patient flow software, patient satisfaction, bed management, patient placement