Access to timely care – and the right level of care – is a cornerstone of healthcare. Not only is a patients access to care critical – sometimes life or death, but the quality of care received throughout the patients length of stay is just as important. And patient care ties directly to satisfaction scores which is something all hospitals / health systems monitor. Add to those challenges – manual vs. automated processes, a change in payer mix, consolidations & labor shortages – which is why having a strategic plan in place becomes more important than ever.
I started my nursing career in 1986 and have had the opportunity to deliver patient care in various roles over the years—from Director of Specialized Clinical Services responsible transfer centers, patient flow activities, bariatric services and nursing leadership programs, to Chief Flight Nurse and Trauma Program Manager. In my role here at TeleTracking as the Vice President, Clinical Strategy, I now have the opportunity to use my clinical expertise to help our clients achieve positive outcomes. While I’ve held different positions throughout my career, what has remained consistent is my focus on making sure patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time. And that’s where having a robust transfer / referral center comes into play. By centralizing operations across an enterprise, admission requests from other hospitals and local physicians can be coordinated—often times through a single phone call or web request.
Access. The definition is simple – the ability, right or permission to approach, enter, speak with, or use. However, things get much more complicated when the topic turns to a patients access to care – because in order to give one patient access to services, you must move another one out.
To help healthcare executives see the possibilities within their organizations, and how streamlining patient access and throughput via centralized command centers can help, we assembled a team of experts who were successful with implementations at their own facilities. The team included:
A celebration of nurses – National Nurses Week 2016
Before looking ahead to National Nurses Week 2016, let’s take a quick look back at the woman who inspired this celebration—Florence Nightingale. From the time she was a child, Florence knew nursing was her calling—she was committed to helping people and providing warm, compassionate care.
Florence also understood the importance of process and the role it plays in ensuring quality patient care and delivering positive outcomes. Early in her career, she helped fight a cholera epidemic at the hospital she was working at by improving hygiene practices, which significantly lowered the death rate.
Patient Access: the single greatest imperative for healthcare.
Last month, I took part in a summit that attracted some of healthcare’s brightest executive leaders. At one point I had the good fortune of joining in on a roundtable discussion about patient access. While the direction of the conversation changed many times, a theme began to arise in my mind. The insight, both simple and yet profound, was that just about every leader at the table defined patient access from a very different lens and a very different world view. While we all believed patient access is a critical priority, how to define it and ultimately measure it remained a point of inconsistency.
Now more than ever, the National Health Service (“NHS”, the UK’s publicly funded health system) looks to tackle patient flow challenges by focusing on identifying and implementing solutions and best practices that enable timely access to care.
Effective, efficient communication is key to effective, efficient patient flow. If there are communication breakdowns between departments, there’s often confusion and delays in getting patients to the right level of care. These delays often lead to unnecessary and redundant phone calls and pages, and undo / redo of patient bed assignments.
Centralized Command Centers: The Most Effective Way to Improve Patient Access
Patients arrive at hospitals every day through different paths. Some through the Emergency Department, some through physician referrals, and some through scheduled procedures. What makes all of these situations similar is the fact that critically ill patients need access to care at the right place and the right time.
The National Patient Safety Foundation’s Patient Safety Awareness Week kicked off on Sunday. A week where the efforts of healthcare professionals to keep patients safe and provide optimum, quality care is recognized. Critical to patient safety is the operational efficiency of a health system – and the strategies and tactics to maximize it.