ALERT: Poor Patient Flow Plague Spreading – Are You Contagious?

Healthcare in America has contracted a disease. And we have been slow to identify a cure. What are we struggling with? Poor Patient Flow. The malady is taking its toll on our patients, our finances, and our reputations.

Word on the street says PACU boarding is rising, ED wait times increasing, and LOS has well overshot CMS averages. Afflicted hospitals are turning away patients, putting their ED on divert, being forced to cancel elective surgeries, and transferring patients from their own system to competitors.

Marilyn Rudolph, RN, BSN, MBA (VP, Performance Improvement at VHA) describes the symptoms of the Poor Patient Flow malady in JCAHO’s 2010 patient flow manual. If your hospital is experiencing any number of these symptoms, you’ve likely contracted the disease.

Symptoms of Poor Patient Flow – Are You Contagious?

  • Census Peaks and Valleys
  • Poor Resource Utilization
  • Internal Diversion
  • Increases in Medical Errors
  • Delays in Patient Care
  • Boarders and ED Diversion
  • Increased LWBS
  • Decreased Throughput and Lost Revenue
  • Increased Length of Stay

The most cliché thing for me to say would be that “I have the cure!” But, I don’t. I’ll spare you needing to roll your eyes.

There is no panacea for Poor Patient Flow, as is clear from this LinkedIn discussion board. The consensus I took from that discussion was, in order to streamline throughput, you need solid data to identify where the Poor Patient Flow is occurring. Don’t just look at the spots where you see Poor Patient Flow manifest (such as ED crowding); look beyond those points to target what is actually causing the symptoms.

Most hospitals have the right mindsets. What they need is more visibility into the real-time landscape in their systems. The key is to use a bed management system to track and trend data. The healing process begins with measurement.

Also, a bed management system should make your life easier and support your unique workflows. Without guidance, well-meaning staff may ignore the processes you’ve established. Core™ leads staff through the most appropriate steps for the operations at hand, streamlining efficiency and increasing patient safety.

In healthcare, our goal is to heal more patients. To do so, it is time we paid attention to patient flow. Managing patient flow allows us to increase quality care, patient safety, and hospital financial performance.

I’m available for free consulting!