Working at the Top of Their License
Crothall Healthcare’s Patient Transport Division has helped redefine “patient flow” in hospital settings, with processes that expedite patient transport while building value into every interaction between patients, staff, and clinicians. Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, part of the Aurora Healthcare system, is a nationally-ranked 622-bed tertiary hospital in Milwaukee, WI. Their successful partnership with Crothall Healthcare’s Patient Transport Division has added to its reputation as one of Wisconsin’s top destinations for patient care.
Saving Time, Supporting Procedures
Thousands of hours were returned to care providers year after year, allowing more time at the patient’s bedside. “What started off 12 years ago to help move patients throughout the hospital has expanded to services in all areas of inpatient and outpatient care, as well as our physician office building transporting patients to and from the hospital,” said Joan Maro, VP of Operations at Aurora St. Luke’s. “The patient transportation trip volume increased 65% to 350,000 trips in 2016 from the start of a partnership with St. Luke’s and Crothall patient transportation in 2004.”
The Crothall Patient Transport management team worked with Aurora St. Luke’s clinical and support service leaders to improve patient throughput efficiencies. Clinical and procedural staff transported a high volume of patients before Crothall Patient Transport started in 2004. Jim Terrell, Emergency Department (ED) Director at Aurora St. Luke’s, conducted an ED time and cost study documenting the baseline of the “current state” of workflow in the ED. “Before Crothall Healthcare developed our centralized Patient Transportation department, my ED clinical staff typically would spend on average 20 minutes of each hour transporting patients and not working at the top of their license,” said Terrell. “The time study shows the importance of Crothall centralized ‘Patient Transporters’ transporting patients instead of our clinical staff, allowing clinical staff to stay at bedside working at the top of their license or certification.”
By the Numbers
15-20 Minutes per hour of ED staff time saved by patient transporters
30% ED Patients discharged before noon, up from 17%
50% Increase in hourly scans by the CT department
Zero Diversion from Aurora St. Luke’s, down from 4 hours average per day
Making a Connection
The connection between the ED and CT services in the imaging department increased hourly scans up to 50%. A consistent Transporter in the Emergency Department focused on the high volume of CT scans allowed for increased productivity. CT technicians could now remain at the test site instead of transporting patients, allowing them to prepare for their next patient and increasing the number of scans per hour on average from four to six scans. This increased the number of CT tests performed in a day and expedited the ability to admit patients from the ED to inpatient. “Patient Transport is a contributing factor to the improved times,” said Sonnie Wilbert, Director of Imaging Services at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.
“Crothall brings the knowledge and experience to improve efficiency in bed capacity,” said Joan Maro, Vice President of Operations at Aurora St. Luke’s.“The value I have seen has been Crothall’s leadership. It has been superb in terms of looking at transport volumes during the busiest times of day and adjusting staffing to meet those volumes which change day to day and month to month. Providing that expertise has really made a positive impact on patient flow.”
Clinical services work hand in hand with Crothall’s transport department to improve patient flow. “It is not just a patient transportation department,” said Terrie Vos, Chief Nursing Officer at Aurora St. Luke’s. “Crothall’s Patient Transport department is our partner in patient throughput and improving efficiencies throughout the hospital.”
Better, Faster Transport
Patient transport personnel played a key role in the discharge-before-noon initiative to address the needs of ED and inpatient admissions. Crothall’s leadership evaluated patient discharge data and changed staffing priorities to cover admission peak times before noon to allow bed availability to inpatients. Patients discharged before noon increased from 17% to the hospital goal of 30%.
Changes in the patient throughput process dropped the hospital diversion from an average of four hours per day to zero. With an impending ED “zero-diversion” county mandate, Aurora St. Luke’s created an initiative to improve the overall patient flow throughout the hospital. The role of Patient Transport was to create a staffing model to address the workload by time of day. The ED Team Lead calls a “Rapid Response,” requesting Patient Transport dispatchers to re-direct transport priorities to free up ED rooms and avoid a near capacity event in the ED.
“Hospital dynamics change, and Crothall leaders do a great job at changing with us,” according to Maro. “We are always working very hard at improving our hospital throughput and service to our patients. Crothall Patient Transportation is our partner in working together to accomplish our goals.”