Hospitalist talks tech innovation for staffing shortages and patient access

Hospitalist talks tech innovation for staffing shortages and patient access

We spoke with him recently to explore how IT can help with staffing shortages, improve healthcare access and patient care coordination and enable quick and efficient transfers. If we are boarding patients in the ER, potentially for days before they can come into the hospital, or boarding them in another hospital before we transfer them, what is the effect on patient outcomes? The way health IT can help ease these shortages is to create visibility across these organizations, even across competitive systems, so they can better work together and load-balance patients to the appropriate places. Q. How does, as you suggest, improving healthcare access and patient care coordination across the entire care continuum empower health systems to shorten average length of stay and deliver safer, more effective care across care settings? Similarly, when there is not a solid care access and orchestration strategy in place, you have ER doctors who are calling sometimes a dozen or more hospitals trying to place a patient from their ER. One of the other important duties within a patient access and orchestration center is to work on getting patients safely transferred out of the hospital to a post-acute care facility. Again, these facilities are seeing some of the same capacity constraint issues that hospitals are, so the hospital's case manager who is placing a patient in a skilled nursing facility is making phone calls one by one, or faxing records one by one to these various locations. A tech-enabled automated process shortens the patient's length of stay, frees up resources and decompresses the bottleneck whether in the ER, the post anesthesia care unit or from another inpatient hospital bed. So, an access and orchestration center can help alleviate the burden being shouldered by ER docs needing to transfer patients out. Q. What are a couple of health IT best practices for quick and efficient transfers that not only save time and hassles for referring physicians but also have the potential to improve outcomes when specialty care is needed emergently? As I mentioned, with a well-designed access and orchestration center using the best industry processes and technology together, you will efficiently find capacity and staff for the patient you want to admit or transfer out. By looking at data, we can ask questions such as, 'Under what circumstances are we saying 'yes' to a transfer 100% of the time?' Because if we are, we can automatically start the team preparing the patient in these scenarios, and then have the physicians consult while preparations are being made. As a hospital-based physician, I once tried to transfer a patient out of my hospital who had an unstable dissecting carotid aneurysm. As the referring physician, I will feel even better about my patient being taken care of by this organization and that it has been a very efficient process for me as well.

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