Better ED Throughput Means a Better Patient Experience

Jim Molpus, August 28, 2013

After a move, ED patient satisfaction and throughput measures "tanked" at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. By eliminating duplication, leaders not only improved operational efficiency, but patient experience as well.

This article appears in the July/August issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

When Sharp Memorial Hospital moved into its new patient care tower in 2009, the emergency department team expected better patient flow and, as a result, improved patient satisfaction to come along with the new facility. It didn't happen.

"We had a beautiful space, but we brought ineffective and cumbersome processes into the new building that really were not optimal for our patients," says Susan Stone, senior vice president and CEO of Sharp Coronado Hospital and Healthcare Center, who at the time was chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Sharp Memorial in San Diego. "It was one of those examples where we thought going into a new space would fix the problems and it didn't."

For an organization that prides itself on being patient-centered, and that only two years previously had been awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, having ED patient satisfaction and throughput measures "tank," as one team member described it, got everyone's attention. Rather than try to tweak the process, Stone and the hospital leadership team decided to evaluate the ED from top to bottom.

"The first thing that we did was to observe and do a lot of data collection about the patient experience overall," Stone says. "And then when we met together to prioritize, we decided to come at this project from the patient's lens rather than my perceptions as a CNO or my team's perspective as healthcare providers."


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