Mastering the patient flow of an Emergency Department starts with the inpatient units. For many hospitals the biggest opportunity for improvement is to eliminate “cold beds.” These are empty, dirty beds, just waiting to be cleaned. People often blame poor, inefficient housekeeping processes, but that is almost never the issue.
The real culprit is frequently poor communication. Housekeeping needs to find out about a vacated bed when the patient really leaves – not hours later. That’s where software, such as Allscripts Patient FlowTM, can help.
Automated communications can help optimize patient flow, balance workloads and gather data. In addition, it can improve patient and staff safety by providing real-time visual cues and alerts that relay isolation precautions, patient needs and bed condition.
Using technology to improve bed turnover time
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX) treats more than 100,000 patients each year. Maximizing capacity is critical to its mission, to eliminate cancer as a major health threat.
It established a committee to help improve patient flow, specifically to address bed turnover. The committee identified key selection criteria for technology, including:
- Intuitive interface for a wide variety of end users
- Ability to easily extract data and reports while preserving patient confidentiality
- Intelligent work engine to automate communications and alerts
MD Anderson streamlined its processes and implemented Allscripts Patient Flow. Now, as soon as a bed is open, the system transmits an electronic cleaning request, assigning staff based on availability and location. It has optimized communications to reduce bed turnover time, increase efficiency, and decrease patient waiting time, while contributing to a better patient care environment. Specific outcomes include:
- Reduced bed turnover time by more than 45%
- Increased transport volumes from 162,457 to 225,903 within five years
- Lowered discharged patients’ wait times
- Raised patient satisfaction by improving bed availability
- Enhanced patient safety by reducing unnecessary telephone calls in nursing workflow
- Improved resource utilization, accountability and staff morale