The average patient in a United States hospital emergency department (ED) waits more than an hour and a half to get shown to their room. Average waits for discharge are even higher at 2.25 hours. Efficiently moving patients through large health facilities can ultimately minimize ED wait times. Patient transporters are one effective tool for moving patients efficiently and safely from the ED to their assigned rooms. Take a closer look at this approach and others that can dramatically cut wait times in large health systems.
The Benefits of Optimizing Patient Flow
To truly appreciate the importance of optimizing patient flow it's important to understand the benefits of becoming more efficient. Reduced wait times are better for patients and the health systems they rely on. Reducing wait times in the ED helps clinicians see and treat patients needing urgent care sooner. The sooner patients receive treatment, the better their outcomes. Patients also feel more satisfied and valued when they have shorter wait times.
Improving patient flow increases revenue for health systems by reducing the number of patient walkouts. It also increases patient confidence and trust, which can substantially boost a hospital's reputation. Hospitals with the best reputations are often the most profitable as patients trust them to get the best care.
Specialized Patient Transporters
Hospitals can hire specialized patient transporters to move their patients safely through their EDs. With patient transporters moving patients and anticipating their needs, there's less pressure on ED nurses. The nurses can focus on treating patients, which will help to cut those wait times. Health systems are most efficient when they use standardized processes throughout their hospitals. Outsourcing patient transport services with specialized professionals would allow healthcare organizations to easily standardize the patient discharge process.
Predictive Staff Modeling
Predictive staff modeling is a high-tech strategy that forecasts patient demand and the number of employees needed to serve them. Health systems can then build staff schedules to accommodate expected demand. During peak times, the expertise of specialized patient transporters who can reduce the load on nurses is invaluable. Hospitals may hire more patient transporters than usual when they expect the longest wait times.
Improve Hospital and ED Layout
Adjusting the layout of a hospital and its ED can encourage patient flow and reduce wait times. For example, better signage and digital wayfinding solutions can help patients and their loved ones navigate through the hospital. This reduces the need for hospital staff to give directions, a task which routinely slows them down. Keeping essential supplies in patients' rooms or in mobile carts may help to reduce the time clinicians take in retrieving supplies.
Long ED wait times are frustrating for patients and expensive for health systems. But more than that, they can compromise patient health and a health system's reputation. Thankfully there are several strategies that can cut wait times and improve patient flow in the EDs of large health systems that are willing to make changes.