More hospitals are operating or attempting to get involved in running urgent care centers. Some 51% operate urgent care centers or have a formal or informal relationship with one. An overwhelming 78%, however, said a freestanding ED is not in their plans.
Outpatient programs will be continually crucial as health systems try to relieve the pressure on the ED, and innovation is needed, says Newbold. "The ED is so complex, and you have different levels of care needed," he says. "We have big gaps that we have to close as an industry." Newbold says his system and others need to be innovative and "start setting up EDs in areas that will take the load off the current EDs, with 24-hour urgent care centers and convenience express care centers.
And while most healthcare leaders said they have programs or initiatives specifically aimed at addressing patient experience in the ED, nearly one in five does not.
"It is time to think fundamentally about better experiences for the patients," Newbold says. "Over time, people will be shopping for lower waiting times and compare satisfaction scores, like a retail experience."
This article appears in the May 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.