Every day thousands of very sick Americans are turned away from the care they need – despite the fact that thousands of hospital beds lay empty. It is called “dead bed” syndrome and it occurs when hospitals that do not track bed availability in real time think they are out of room – when the situation is quite the contrary.
There is no way of knowing just how many bed-hours are wasted each day across the country. We do, however, know that this particular issue is the tip of a much bigger iceberg of waste, which contributes mightily to the dizzying upward spiral of healthcare costs.
While hospital capacity is part of the issue, patient access is also a critical priority – so much so that it was the topic at an event last month in Boston, which you can read more about in previous blog post: ‘Operational Command Centers Yield Positive Results‘.
At TeleTracking, we believe the following to be true:
- Regardless of circumstance or geography, every patient in need should have access to high quality care
- End-to-end patient flow is key to operational performance
- An unrelenting focus on improving patient access and patient flow will have a positive impact on productivity, utilization and the timely delivery of care
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may not have relieved emergency department overcrowding as hoped. Recent stories: Contrary to Goals, ER Visits Rise under Obamacare; Emergency Room Visits Up after ACA; Enduring Really Long Waits at the ER; ER Wait Times on the Rise
Operational Inefficiency Can Be Fixed
A recent RAND Corporation study says operational inefficiency can be fixed with information technology and Lean Thinking. Specifically, the study points to Health First of Florida, which ended patient diversions and increased transfers by 300 percent after automating its operations. Health First also “reduced the time it took patients to move from the emergency room to a hospital bed by more than one-third, and created a 27% increase in total system admissions.”
The technology to make these types of advancements has been available for some time. However, the lion’s share of federal attention and support has gone to the implementation of Electronic Health Record systems (EHRs), which have done very little to improve efficiency, increase patient access or reduce costs.
A Much Better Return on Investment
The regulatory and financial support of Congress succeeded in achieving widespread EHR use. Similar support for a technology-based operational platform would produce a much better ROI for our nation’s tax payers because the efficiencies gained when these systems work together are far more meaningful and measurable.
For example, a large academic health system recently reported the following results over the course of a three month period:
- Left Without Being Seen went from 7.39% to 1.82%
- Admit LOS went from 11 hours to 9 hours
- Boarding hours went from 8081 to 3991
- Ambulance diversion hours went from 154 to 9.4
With the challenges U.S. hospitals face, and will continue to confront in the future, it will become essential to operate more efficiently in order to survive. Larger facilities and higher fees will no longer be an option.
Listen to what executives at Baptist Memorial Health Care said about the need to become more efficient.
TeleTracking has always been open to interconnecting with other healthcare IT vendors for the betterment of patient care. In fact, we have successfully interfaced with over 75 vendors, including Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors like Epic, Cerner, Meditech, etc., at many of our 900 clients.
To download our whitepaper, “The Case for Healthcare IT Integration”, click here.