Case Study: Creating More Efficient Collaboration Between Physicians, Nurses, And Support Staff
East Coast Hospital* Enhances Patient Transfer Center Productivity Using Central Logic Transfer Center™
An award winning, software application designed to effectively manage the patient flow process
Headquartered on the east coast, this non-profit, healthcare organization is one of the largest in its state, and provides medical care services to more than five million residents. The organization employs over 10,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 2,500 licensed physicians, and treats approximately 700,000 patients each year. The healthcare system is a clinical affiliate of a distinguished primary academic medical school.
This east coast healthcare organization enjoys a strong, positive reputation for successfully treating patients its immediate geographic area, currently numbering over five million. Due to the recent population growth in the region created by residents moving into the area from major metropolitan centers, the patient flow volumes in the healthcare organization continue to steadily rise.
Many inbound and outbound patient transfers were managed individually by each department (e.g., cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics, etc.). In addition to impacting timeliness of patient care productivity, and efficiency, this limited and time-consuming procedure also made it difficult to effectively determine and manage placement across this 1,500-bed, acute-care system.
In addition, patient medical information had to be recorded manually on worksheets by transfer center nurses, who then exported the information into Microsoft® Excel spreadsheets. This was a cumbersome process that hindered the speedy delivery of medical records and offered little protection of confidential patient information. As a result of these inadequacies, in 2007, the healthcare organization set up a patient transfer center to handle all aspects of patient flow through the transfer center. Over time, as the activities of the new patient transfer center were regularly analyzed, the senior management of the healthcare system made some interesting findings. The operations of the patient transfer center were not up to par with the system-wide cutting-edge, efficient record of care. The C-suite executives of the healthcare system prided themselves on high-quality medical service and they wanted to optimize transfer processes to meet the high overall standards of all departments. The executives determined to improve the overall performance by re-addressing the current processes in the patient transfer center.
The responsibility of revitalizing the patient transfer center to meet overall high standards of the healthcare system, fell to the original designer and operations manager of the center.
Before the revitalization of the patient transfer could begin, the manager and an organization-wide work group worked to determine areas where operational and functional improvements were needed. The team employed the Six Sigma approach as a strategic methodology to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control the project. This methodology helped the workgroup to identify the sources of inefficiency. The challenge was to determine how to resolve these issues.
An additional value to using the Six Sigma approach allowed the workgroup to collaboratively make important group decisions that determined the direction of the patient transfer center. The workgroup identified different points of patient entry within the center, and assessments of certain inefficiencies. Patient transfer centers revolve around standardized processes and protocols. The establishment of these procedures enabled the workgroup to generate large gains in productivity both in and out of the patient transfer center.
One of the greatest barriers to achieving success with the patient transfer center was the critical need for automation, especially with respect to data entry, storage, and delivery. The manager of the patient transfer center knew they needed state-of-the-art, user-friendly software to achieve the results they were looking for. She spoke with other transfer center managers, and discovered that many of the applications being used were built from the ground up and required a great deal of time and money to design, build, and implement. After speaking with her IT colleagues, she knew this approach was not the ideal situation for this medical center. Therefore, she needed to find a robust, affordable, third-party software that would be easy to install and user friendly for the patient transfer center employees.
Fortunately, a member of the workgroup discovered Central Logic Transfer Center™, an industry-leading, patient transfer center, workflow software application. Transfer Center is a powerful, Web-based, software solution designed to streamline patient flow between medical facilities and securely capture and deliver critical patient information to physicians and hospital administrative personnel. The patient transfer center manager contacted Central Logic for additional information, evaluated the product, and assessed its potential value and benefits for the patient transfer system.
In late 2009, the decision was made to install Transfer Center software in the patient transfer center. Training of the staff was conducted in January of 2010. A soft launch occurred followed by an organization-wide launch on March 1, 2010. The manager of the patient transfer center, who was initially skeptical that any single software application could meet the needs of the center, was very pleased by the top-to-bottom capabilities of Transfer Center. She describes the assets as “superb” and “second to none.” Transfer Center software immediately addressed issues the healthcare organization was experiencing. In addition, Central Logic staff coordinated with the manager to ensure that the installation and training were seamless and non-disruptive to the current transfer center operations.
Although this east coast healthcare system has only used Central Logic Transfer Center in the patient transfer center for several months, the organization has already seen results in many areas. C-suite executives observed that Transfer Center has increased the efficiency, responsiveness, and productivity in patient flow management. In addition, the problem-solving capabilities of Transfer Center, particularly in clinical analysis, have measurably benefitted the operations of the patient transfer center and produced a seamless workflow that now allows efficient collaboration between physicians, nurses, and support staff in multiple departments. The increased ability of physicians to provide urgent critical care to incoming patients has been realized through the installation of Transfer Center.
The utilization of Central Logic Transfer Center in the patient transfer center of the east coast healthcare system has addressed prior challenges of automation, information management, and manual data entry.
Among the positive benefits that Transfer Center has brought to the system, are the ability of staff to manage multiple patient cases simultaneously and the quick updating tools that are part of the software. The patient transfer center staff exhibits increased efficiency, especially during shift changes. Nurses reporting to a new shift are now able to rapidly scan the queue of current and future transfer cases. The availability of remote access to the system offers the ability for management to view a patient’s record remotely anytime contacted physician requests patient information.
In summary, Central Logic Transfer Center has given the patient transfer center the tools needed to offer a high-quality, medical care environment, and the ability to conduct regular, quality reviews and audits to monitor care. Transfer Center also enables the healthcare system management to comprehensively review work, explore potential improvements in relationships with referring hospitals, and effectively communicate with other medical facilities outside of the system. The comprehensive reporting capability of Transfer Center is one of the strongest resources of the software. Day-to-day monitoring of performance allows management to be abreast of any immediate issues. The healthcare system management is currently assessing additional information that might be needed in the future. When the assessment is complete, custom reports for management will be developed.
The healthcare system management team is in the process of incorporating two other service lines into the patient transfer center. The team is also expanding the scope of relationships the hospital maintains with primary care physicians in the area and building awareness within the medical community about the patient transfer center and its value to their medical practices.
Continuous feedback is provided by the patient transfer center management to Central Logic that will aid in future improvements to the Transfer Center software. The management team is also sharing ways in which the organization is using Transfer Center in unique, innovative, and creative ways. Some of the ways vary from the way the product is used by other Central Logic customers. For example, the east coast healthcare system relies heavily on the clinical component that Transfer Center offers to record medications and dosages, chief patient complaints, and other related medical care issues that physicians must have immediate access to if they are to deliver the best possible medical care available. The patient transfer center team believes that it is pushing the capabilities of Transfer Center to the limit by using every asset to enhance overall transfer center operations and improve patient care.
The Central Logic relationship with the healthcare organization is a partnership strengthened by the company’s ability to ensure constant communication and willingness to deliver useful insight and technical assistance that meet the future growth needs of the east coast healthcare system.
The east coast healthcare system considers Central Logic a collaborative partner for the organization because of their ability to listen and incorporate suggestions by the healthcare management team into current and future versions of Transfer Center.
The improved patient transfer center has enabled the healthcare system to achieve its goal of creating a high-quality experience and medical care environment for all patients.
*East Coast Hospital is not the real name of the hospital for which this Success Story was written. The data, quotes and summary detailed here are true and based on a real set of activities and events, however the name of the hospital has been changed at request of the hospital.