Hospital Management Strategies for Improving Emergency Department Workflows: Part 1 – The Real Threat
Katie Lynch | Chief Operating Officer
The emergency department (ED) in your hospital is faced with unique circumstances that other areas of your healthcare organization do not have to take into account. While most healthcare departments operate on an appointment basis, the ED is, by definition, challenged with an unpredictable influx of patients – and your hospital management systems need to be able to keep up.
In addition to adapting to unpredictable patient volume and overcrowding, patients often use EDs as the “catch all” for dealing with health issues they do not know how to handle. In other words, even non-emergency cases will present in the ED and your staff needs to be able to triage patients while directing the flow of care efficiently.
Unfortunately, many EDs abandon their electronic health record (EHR) systems the moment the patient volume becomes overwhelming.
Here is the reality of ineffective EHR implementation in the ED.
Your EHR Versus Your Emergency Department
Ideally, your hospital staff and your EHR tool should be working in unison – one supporting the other in symbiotic harmony. However, if the wrong EHR was selected, an EHR was not implemented correctly, or it has not been maintained properly, the situation will degrade from symbiosis to rivalry.
If your staff is resorting to old, analog, or non-compliant procedures because the EHR is too much to bother with, there is a major problem that needs to be fixed immediately.
Improper EHR use can lead to drastic consequences that, quite frankly, can absolutely result in lives lost.
Common problems we see with EDs that are struggling to work in tandem with their EHR systems include:
- Decreased Timeliness of Care – As ED nurses and service providers wrestle with the EHR tool, patients are left waiting for treatment.
- Diminished Quality of Care – Patients in the ED may not be responsive enough to provide complete medical information. An EHR tool needs to be able to pull pertinent data from other EHR systems to support your providers.
- Readmission & Financial Losses – Ineffectual EHR systems are associated with an increase in readmission rates, longer patient stays, and decreased annual revenue for the hospital, according to a 2015 study.
- Efficiency of Service – Once a patient has been evaluated, diagnosed, and treated, that ED bed needs to be freed up for the next patient in need. However, inadequate EHR tools prolong the discharge process and cause problems with prescriptions, lab results, and space turnover.
- Record Errors – Inaccurate record-keeping can lead to increased mortality rates and financial losses for the hospital, which can devastate both your patients and your organization.
The Truth About Hospital Management & Eds
The emergency department is often a source of excitement, tension, and overwhelm for many members of hospital management. Which is why so many healthcare providers are surprised to learn about other healthcare organizations that we have helped to completely change that stigma.
The ED does not have to be the epicenter of chaos in your hospital.
In fact, with the right EHR tool (one that has been properly implemented, of course), your hospital can minimize overcrowding, optimize timeliness of care, improve quality of treatment, and become a valued community resource rather than a headache.
Stay tuned for our next post where we will discuss the specific strategies your hospital management can employ to optimize the ED within your healthcare organization.
If you have questions specific to optimizing an emergency department, let us know in the comments below or reach out to us for tailored guidance.