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As a former hospital administrator, I can still recall the anxiety I would experience every morning at 5am when my phone would ring.
Inevitably, the subject of the call was that we were at capacity, had 40 patients boarding in the emergency department and 30 planned inpatient surgeries for the day. It was clear that we were having issues understanding who would be leaving that day and when they would leave. The result of that combination was a reactionary approach with no clear solution or plan on how we would manage the day—let alone manage it on a long term basis. Does this feel like something your organization is currently experiencing?
Health systems, due to changes in reimbursements, are charged with identifying ways to provide the highest quality of care, in the most expeditious manner. Furthermore, hospitals are working to become high reliability organizations, which means putting systems in place to promote a climate of safety and efficient healthcare delivery. Research has shown that patients who board in the emergency department are more likely to have an adverse event than patients that do not board and experience a delay in accessing the appropriate level of care. Organizations need to begin to understand the extent of these delays, where the true bottlenecks are in patient flow and throughput, and institute best practices to achieve a culture of safety and improved patient outcomes.
Here at TeleTracking our mission is focused on making sure that no patient should ever have to wait for the care that they need. With a combination of technology, best practices and process improvement, we make it possible for organizations to quickly identify the bottlenecks within a healthcare system. Our Capacity Management Suite of solutions has a robust repository of reporting capabilities that allows organizations to measure performance in key departments such as environmental services, patient transport, nursing / case management and patient placement as it relates to flow and throughput. And clear communications between these departments plays a significant role in moving the patient through the continuum of care within a hospital system and reducing the delays.
Applying the Departmental Data to Improve Overall Patient Throughput
TeleTracking’s data provides the objective measurement to help organizations diagnose the breakdown in flow and develop solutions―often without increasing costs. An example of this at work is an organization who realized that they were not achieving the best practice target of 60 minutes for their overall bed turn times― causing a delay in admitting patients to the floors from the emergency department. A standard report was able to show them that there was a pivotal point mid-day where the turn times were taking longer. A simple adjustment to the staffing pattern, as well as creating a discharge clean team, helped this organization achieve their best practice bed turn time and reduce the overall delay in admitting the patients without additional staffing resources.
The power of these reports is, although it may appear that no beds are available, beds may actually be ready and waiting for patients. TeleTracking can measure “lost bed” time on each individual unit due to a delay in discharging a patient from the ADT system. This level of transparency has helped leadership identify human bottlenecks and appropriately coach and retrain as needed―increasing capacity and reducing overall wait times for incoming patients.
The takeaway? It is imperative that hospitals utilize objective data to drive change and create a high-reliability organization of safety and overall improvement in patient outcomes. TeleTracking, through its robust reporting capabilities, can time stamp each departments performance and impact the overall patient flow and patient throughput.
Interested in learning more? Listen to a podcast from TeleTracking’s Dr. Scott Newton on value-based care.
Kelly Robertson brings extensive clinical, executive, and change management experience to her role as a consultant for the TeleTracking advisory team. She is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. With hospital and health system experience in operations and leadership roles as a nurse for more than 25 years, she has been member of executive teams in academic, community, ambulatory and post-acute hospital settings. In addition to serving as a member of senior leadership, her responsibilities have included; implementation of patient care technology at a large health system in Cleveland, Ohio, oversight of patient flow initiatives, and working in various departments such as research, quality and risk.
In her former position, Kelly focused on cost management across the continuum of care with specialization in patient flow/capacity management and care management redesign. Most recent hospital experience includes serving as Nursing Operations Director which included administrative oversight for and strategic implementation of TeleTracking which resulted in a seamless transition.
Additionally, Kelly serves as an adjunct faculty member at Ursuline College, teaching evidence based practice and research to advanced practice nursing students.
Kelly received her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Ursuline College and a dual master’s degree in Nursing and Public Administration from Kent State University.