Triage assessment used to be for determining which patients had the highest acuity and needed to get back to an ED bed. Under the new system, ED acuity assessment only has the goal of getting to patients in the quickest way, Stone says.
"Triage assessment helps us assess what the needs are of the patient and to expedite the care each hour as opposed to determining who should be seen next from the lounge," Stone says. "Everybody's coming into a room. If they have a lower acuity, it just means that our goal is to get them out faster."
One of the overall goals of the redesign project was to decrease length of stay to fewer than three hours in the ED. Tactically that means the ED staff had to refocus on freeing up beds, which changed the way they viewed triage, Stone says.
"If there is a patient with a low acuity, that gives the team an opportunity to say, 'We can get this patient out in less than two hours.' So then there will be an open bed and the next patient does not have to wait. It became a different philosophy about how you use those triage assignments. They're an important function of the ED and we still use them, it's just not to prioritize who's sitting in the waiting room and who's not."
This story is drawn from an HLM Live event that took place on August 20th.
This article appears in the July/August issue of HealthLeaders magazine.