Financial leaders, pay heed to your emergency department. EDs are rife with process inefficiency and the patient satisfaction and financial prognoses aren't good. Yet it's possible to improve care and cut costs.
First I'll share a personal story of a recent trip to a Boston-area emergency department with my 15-month-old son. It was a bad experience, but a good example of why so many hospitals are losing money in their EDs.
When my husband and I arrived at the ED with our hysterical baby, no one looked up or offered direction in the waiting room. I went to the nearest desk to ask for assistance and was pointed to another desk. That receptionist pointed to a sign-in sheet and asked what was wrong with my son.
After I explained that he had a fever of 102 degrees and hadn't been able to hold anything down for hours, she said, "Okay," then directed me to see the woman next to her about payment.
Over the next two hours, we were seen by two nurses and a doctor, each of whom asked the same questions and checked the same vital signs. The ED on weekday night wasn't very busy, yet two hours passed before a treatment suggestion was made&mdash:an eternity for parents with a sick and screaming child.