Home to the only comprehensive academic medical center in its region and the sole Level I trauma center for adult, pediatric and burn patients in Richmond, Virginia, VCU Health was regularly at or over capacity for patient admissions. As a result, the health system was routinely on diversion and faced challenges in discharging patients timely and efficiently.
Committed to improvement, the health system worked with a throughput and capacity team on several initiatives aimed at improving communication among providers, patients, and families. The end-goal was to streamline patient discharges while increasing patient satisfaction through the highest quality of care.
VCU Health realized that in order to efficiently discharge patients and avoid unnecessary diversion hours, it was necessary to keep an accurate, up-to-date electronic record of bed capacity that the patient care team could access at all times and use to provide regular updates to patients and their families.
To make this possible, the team at VCU Health implemented tracking tools in the operational platform that care teams updated consistently throughout each patient’s stay. In turn, teams could plan for discharges up to 20 hours prior to the actual patient discharge. The tool was set to update a patient’s status automatically to pending discharge at midnight on the projected discharge date. To avoid communicating inaccurate pending discharge dates, the care team was required to make regular updates based on a list of tasks within the platform that needed to be checked off before the health system could discharge the patient.