Case Study: Baptist Health South Florida
Central Logic Delivers Critical Speed and Efficiency To Baptist Health South Florida’s New Patient Transfer Center
Baptist Health South Florida is the largest faith-based, not-for-profit healthcare organization in the region, with a sterling reputation for medical and service excellence.
With roots dating back five decades to the formation of its flagship facility, Baptist Hospital of Miami, the system’s comprehensive network of services, hospitals, and care centers extend throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
As one of South Florida’s most respected non-profit healthcare organizations, Baptist Health has grown significantly in recent years. Along with the construction of new, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, the organization has also added medical services to an already extensive portfolio of offerings.
In addition to business expansion and brick-and-mortar growth, Baptist Health has experienced a dramatic increase in monthly patient flows, with many patients needing to be moved quickly from one facility to another to receive proper care, usually from a specialist. Baptist Health did not have a formal system or set of guidelines in place to efficiently manage patient transfers. As a result, the lack of coordination adversely impacted several different levels of the organization: operations, finance, patient care, and administration.
Wayne Brackin, chief operating officer for Baptist Health, knew of other medical systems around the country that had encountered many of the same issues. Those difficulties were resolved by forming patient transfer centers to manage the administration, documentation, and physical movements of the patient flow process. While a transfer center seemed like a good idea, Brackin recognized that much due diligence would be required before an informed decision could be made. The key question: where to begin?
Brackin contacted Philipp Ludwig, assistant vice president of medical operations, who collaborated with Leslee Gross, R.N., a trusted 30-year veteran of Baptist Health with two decades of experience in emergency departments, to spearhead the patient transfer center task force. Gross would eventually implement and manage the department.
“Even with extensive experience at Baptist Health, I knew I had my work cut out for me with this project because patient transfer centers, in comparison to other medical facility operations, are relatively new phenomena,” recalled Gross. “For this reason, I recognized that research, preparation, and technology tools would be critical, and that I would need to contact and visit successful, well-established transfer centers to obtain insights on the many ways this could benefit us… if at all.”
Upon starting the new project in October 2008, Gross reached out to other respected healthcare institutions that had recently implemented patient transfer centers.
“At the time, not many patient transfer centers existed outside of academia, such as those at Johns Hopkins and Emory University,” Gross said. “With that said, I felt it was important to interview transfer center directors at a broad range of different healthcare organizations: academic, for-profit, non-profit, regional, and so forth. This not only gave us a very helpful, multi-faceted view, but also a firm grasp of best practices we could incorporate into our own transfer center. Overall, the feedback we obtained from other healthcare systems was invaluable, and this input played a large role in how we set up our operation.”
The research process continued, as Ludwig and Gross began evaluating different patient transfer center software packages. Baptist Health has a strong track record in utilizing new technologies throughout its system to improve operating efficiencies, enhance staff productivity, and deliver excellent care. Based on her conversations with peers at other facilities, Gross knew a full-featured, easy-to-use software application would serve as the mortar of Baptist Health’s patient transfer center.
Enter Central Logic Transfer Center™, a powerful, Web-based software solution designed to streamline patient flows between medical facilities, and securely capture and deliver critical transfer information to physicians and hospital administrative personnel.
Scott Jordan, Central Logic’s co-founder and chief innovation officer, provided Gross with extensive background on the product and its proven performance. He then referred her to existing Central Logic customers — some of whom she had already talked to during her research.
“Before singling out Central Logic, Leslee and Philipp knew exactly what they were looking for in a transfer center software package,” said Jordan. “However, they were having tremendous difficulty finding a vendor with an affordable and comprehensive solution. Leslee was essentially looking for a product that could connect all the dots. After she and her colleagues saw a complete demonstration of Transfer Center, and after hearing positive testimonials about its ROI, Baptist Health ultimately chose Central Logic to power its new patient transfer center.”
Once Baptist Health made the decision to go with Central Logic Transfer Center, they needed to move quickly to get the system’s transfer center up and running.
Following consultations with Gross, Jordan, and the implementation team, Central Logic staff felt that Baptist Health would be best served by implementing Transfer Center as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment. This configuration, as opposed to a hard install on Baptist Health’s network, puts all of the routine maintenance and upgrade responsibilities in the hands of Central Logic. In the end, this saves Baptist Health significant time and manpower. In addition, Central Logic monitors the performance of Transfer Center, and Baptist Health’s ongoing use of the product, in real time. This allows Central Logic to make necessary adjustments on the fly so the transfer center is always operating with maximum availability and uptime. Consequently, the installation took just four weeks to complete. The Baptist Health team was able to spend the remaining time with Central Logic’s training associates learning all of the features of the new system.
“Although I saw firsthand during the sales process how easy Central Logic Transfer Center was to use, I was amazed at how quickly the rest of the transfer center staff learned the ins and outs of the software,” explained Gross. “They also learned how to leverage many of the software’s more advanced features in no time at all. Even some of our less tech-savvy employees found Transfer Center easy to use, which is rare with healthcare software these days.”
Based on her team’s research, preparation, and support, and with the help of Central Logic and Transfer Center, Ludwig and Gross officially opened Baptist Health’s new, cutting-edge patient transfer center in March 2009— just 24 weeks after receiving the assignment.
“Obviously, we had a tight deadline, but there’s no way we would’ve been able to establish our transfer center as quickly as we did without Central Logic’s guidance,” added Gross. “The company went far beyond the sale and installation of software. Central Logic also added a refreshing layer of consultative advice that enabled us to create a transfer center that not only manages our existing patient flows, but also efficiently handles increasing numbers of patients annually. And even better, we accomplished this without sacrificing any of our high reporting, medical care, customer service, and staff productivity standards.”
Online now for only 18 months, the Baptist Health patient transfer center has already seen dramatic improvements in many areas, which are easily tracked, forecasted, and summarized by Central Logic’s reporting capabilities.
In its first year, the center processed more than 20,000 patient transfers, an average of 1,667 per month, and the numbers continue to climb. As a result, Gross’ staff has grown to 17 full-time employees to handle the increased traffic and all of the related administrative details.
“The transformation has been absolutely remarkable,” Gross explained. “Before, our transfer processes were outdated and chaotic. The administrative headaches were constant and frustrating, and the complaints from nurses and physicians were frequent. Now, with Central Logic’s assistance, all the departments at Baptist Health love us. We are an easy entry point to Baptist Health facilities, and Central Logic Transfer Center helps us eliminate the guesswork and documentation issues that hindered us previously. Most importantly, the software helps me and my staff solve problems right on the spot. Now, we don’t have to bother our physicians, who remain focused on delivering the highest-quality care possible.” Beyond the ability to facilitate increased patient flows, one of the largest and most demonstrable results with Transfer Center has been the ease with which Baptist Health now handles transfer center documentation.
“With documentation, which can be extensive with any transfer, we’re now extremely organized and concise,” said Gross. “The software has also given us an excellent communication piece as well, so we’re able to send and receive confidential patient documents. The documents are easily and quickly generated in a summarized format, and with increased security. While this was a weakness before, it is most certainly now a strength, which is having a positive impact on resources and the bottom line.”
And the feedback from Baptist Health’s team of physicians and senior management has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.
“Philipp, Leslee and the transfer team have done a wonderful job with the new transfer center,” said Brackin. “The project has completely changed the way we handle patient transfers. This is no small effort. The team is in the trenches every day managing these processes, and making it possible for our nurses and physicians to focus on caring for our patients.”
Gross says she has additional plans for the transfer center to further improve other areas of the extensive Baptist Health operation.
“The patient transfer center itself is really just the beginning of improving the patient flow process,” said Gross, “Using our knowledge and expertise from the transfer center’s design, we intend to expand into the emergency department to free up emergency room resources. Also, we’re exploring how to further refine our patient flow processes through tele-consulting and the addition of other protocols.”
“This truly has been an exciting project to be involved with because it has had such a positive impact on so many areas of our organization, and more importantly, on our ability to provide the best possible patient care,” Gross summarized.