Once medication was given to stop the vomiting, we stayed in the room with our son for another hour and half before a nurse said we could go home. In total, we spent over three and a half hours in the ED, and our son spent more than 90 minutes in a bed. In hindsight I wondered why the first nurse couldn't have made the same diagnosis as the physician. Had I gone to a pediatrician's office, the same diagnosis plus a trip to the pharmacy to get the medication would've taken an hour.
As a CFO, do you see any flaws with this scenario? Is it reminiscent of patient visits to your hospital's or health system's ED?
As a consumer, I'm angry about having to wait so long to get my child some relief. My experience at this ED has soured me on the rest of the hospital. If this is how inefficiently the organization runs an essential area like the ED, what's the rest of the place like? The organization hasn't lost one patient, but three—me, my husband, and my son.
My experience didn't have to be this way. There are tools available to help healthcare institutions improve their patient flow while reducing costs.
In 2005, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality awarded more than $9 million for 17 new grants under its Partnerships in Implementing Patient Safety program. One grant winner was "Improving Patient Flow in the Emergency Department," led in part by Twila Burdick, vice president of organizational performance at Banner Health in Phoenix. The project analyzed a patient flow process called Door to Doc, which reduces the time that ED patients wait to be seen by a physician by moving them through two different intake processes.