Hospital's 'No-Wait' Culture Slashes Costs

Philip Betbeze, January 17, 2014

Medical equipment tagging is saving a New York hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Its savings on patient tagging will be known soon. Next? The COO is considering employee tagging, to monitor hand washing and reduce infection rates.

Paul Milton sees his chief responsibility as chief operating officer of Ellis Medicine as trying to make the hospital and health system more efficient. It was not always that way, says Milton of his five-year tenure at the 438-bed community and teaching hospital system in New York's Capital region near Albany.

It's not hard to pinpoint when he shifted his attentions to efficiency.

It was 2008, when the health system merged two community hospitals driving heavy volume to the remaining facility's emergency department and general patient population.

"So we really had to get on our game because of the volume increase," he says.

Good thing, because that crisis provided the motivation to tackle bigger things later. Moreover, he says, Ellis caregivers had to get on their game because efficiency—in patient care, in wait times, in patient satisfaction—is an increasingly critical ingredient in the recipe for success, no matter where organizations are on the journey of replacing a volume strategy with a value one.

"We needed to do as good a job as possible to make sure the patient flow and length of stay and discharge worked really well," he says. Because Ellis Hospital had to take over ED services from the merged hospital that closed to inpatient care, volume increased dramatically—17 beds were added over the course of 90 days to the Ellis Hospital ED. Patient flow was the chief challenge in integrating the two into one.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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