Patient Flow: Freeing Up Hospitals to Support Care Delivery
Everyone in healthcare understands that keeping patients continually flowing through a hospital means a smoother, more effective and even a more profitable facility. As hospitals continue looking for ways to improve in this area, Crothall’s Patient Transportation (PT) division is an important spoke in this wheel. Effective movement of patients enables the medical staff to focus its time and energy on patients, allowing for improved patient flow and care.
By Greg Osganian, Division President, Patient Transportation
Here’s a good example. Reid Health, a 217-bed acute care hospital serving the Richmond, Indiana, region, significantly improved its throughput using our PT services. Prior to using Crothall, each person working to transport patients was assigned to a specific department. So, if three patients in radiology needed to be moved, and activity was less in other areas of the hospital, it resulted in inconsistent workflows, underutilized labor resources and unnecessary bottlenecks.
By moving to Crothall’s centralized operation, each transporter serves the entire hospital. As a result, the hospital experienced the following improvements in service:
- 99% of transports were started within 10 minutes of a call
- -50% reduction in average transport time
- +62% increase in trips per patient hour
- $50,000 saved in the first year with Crothall’s services
Make no mistake, a poor patient transport operation can also have an impact on patient care. At Memorial Hospital Belleville, a 222-bed acute care hospital serving southwest Illinois, delays in patient transport routinely occurred in surgery, the emergency department and diagnostic testing before Crothall arrived. Surgeons let their chief nursing officer know that patients arriving late for testing or surgery had an impact on care for other patients.
In less than one year, Memorial Hospital Belleville saw:
- +94.5% increase in on-time surgery starts
- Surgeon satisfaction improvements
- Patients’ perception of service improved
- Surgery and revenue volume increased
By updating the hospital’s patient transport processes, highlighting their stronger employees and strengthening accountability across the department, the PT operation was turned around.
Smooth Movement of Patients Can Change a Hospital
Many patients come through triage in an Emergency Department where their health problem is assessed and where a decision is made: the patient will get treated and released or will need further care and will be admitted to an inpatient unit.
The Emergency Room is often the key component in whether the patient flow process works smoothly – or not. If this area of the hospital becomes overcrowded, there is a domino effect throughout the facility. It means the patient flow process slows down and people can’t be admitted for treatment in a timely manner.
When this happens, efficient patient transportation is critical for ensuring this process runs smoothly. Our target is to respond to 90 percent of these requests within 10 minutes or less. This response allows for less strain on emergency room staff to ensure positive patient flow is occurring within the emergency room and in the hospital.
Impact on Revenues and Patient Satisfaction
There is strategic value for any healthcare organization to get throughput and patient flow right. It has an impact on a wide range of operations, including the patient experience, revenue potential, capacity management and overall organizational effectiveness.
For example, at Memorial Hospital Belleville, transporters averaged around 1.75 trips per productive hour (TPPH) before Crothall took over. Since then, they have averaged 3.2 trips per productive hour. By improving throughput and trip volume, patients arrive and depart more efficiently and staff can work without incurring overtime.
And, as we demonstrated with Reid Health in Indiana, there should be a favorable financial impact on any hospital. Many hospitals will experience improved revenues in specific in ancillary departments, the emergency departments and the operating room.
If the patient transport system works well, nurses are free to help patients, which improves the patient experience. And when patients receive better care, it will contribute to greater direct caregiver satisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness.
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