Sharp HealthCare in the News

Managing ED Overcrowding: Q&A With Sharp HealthCare’s Janet Hanley

This article was first published in Healthcare Business Insights | Read Full Article


In the United States, ED overcrowding is a major concern in most hospitals. Recent media reports highlight the perils and challenges of busy EDs, including “A Doctor’s Diary: The Overnight Shift in the E.R.” in last month’s New York Times. That article noted, “Americans visit the E.R. more than 140 million times a year – 43 visits for every 100 Americans—which is more than they visit every other type of doctor’s office in the hospital combined.”

While leaders look for long-term solutions, one thing organizations can do is optimize bed placement procedures to reduce the amount of time required to move admitted ED patients to clean inpatient beds. HBI recently spoke with leaders from several U.S. healthcare organizations about their experiences with patient flow solutions. To address follow-up questions from members surrounding typical bed placement performance metrics, HBI spoke with Janet Hanley, vice president of patient technology, innovation, and efficiencies at Sharp HealthCare. Although feasible performance levels can vary significantly from one organization to another—due to factors such as technology used, physical characteristics of the facility, and more—these experiences offer leaders a starting point for gauging how their organizations compare.

HBI: How long does it take for bed placement staff to assign a bed for ED admissions?

Hanley: When there’s an order for admission, the order feeds our patient flow solution and a bed request is created. The ED staff will enter particular attributes that will help the placement of the patient. When the bed request comes across, there’s a second piece that we ask for: We do not assign the bed until ED staff confirm that the patient is ready to move. That means the patient can be packed up and moved to the next bed immediately. On average, we could have a bed request for a couple of hours before the patient is ready to move. However, if we have the capacity, the bed assignment can be instantaneous after that.

In hospitals that function at close to full capacity, especially at specific times during the day, the time from “ready to move” to moving the patient will be affected. My advice for hospitals would be to focus on getting the inpatient beds empty through timely discharge more than on moving the patients upstairs to the unit.

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