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The unexpected benefits of Allscripts Patient Flow

One benefit of automation you might not expect? Improving morale.

At our annual user conference, Allscripts Client Experience (ACE), we talked about this benefit with Terri Carlson, executive director of support services, Jeanette Harkness, manager of portering, and Wendy McCrystal, senior business analyst from Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR).  The largest healthcare system in southern Saskatchewan, Canada, RQHR uses SunriseTM by Allscripts and Patient Flow.

Patient Flow helps hospitals automate bed management and patient transport, which leads to better care coordination and efficiency. The system also offers transparency that hospitals don’t have with manual and paper processes.

Better transparency improved trust between departments

When using a paper system for bed management and bed turnover, RQHR did not have transparency. Housekeeping staff would walk the halls looking for beds ready to be cleaned. Clinical staff assumed that housekeeping staff weren’t cleaning beds fast enough, leading to shortages. A lack of information caused mistrust between teams.

“There was a lack of trust in the organization,” Carlson said. “It was believed that the inpatient units were hiding beds and, in turn, that beds and rooms weren’t being cleaned fast enough.”

In October 2013, RQHR went live with Patient Flow’s bed management component for inpatient services. It hasn’t changed the cleaning process, but information is more consistent, efficient and accessible across departments. Teams are better able to quickly place patients from the emergency department and surgical units due to real time bed availability being accessible.

 

Patient Flow improved the paper process in several ways. For example, “Discharge triggers the dirty bed notice right away, that is huge,” McCrystal said. “And the other thing is that there aren’t as many phone calls between units.” Visibility eliminated multiple phone calls for staff to identify dirty beds or available beds for new patients. Now staff can see exactly when the bed was left dirty and made clean.

“It hasn’t changed the housekeeping process, it’s just made everything more out in the open,” Carlson said. “It’s been validating…We’ve elevated the perception of the need for housekeeping.”

Patient Flow has reduced the number of complaints about notification times or unclean beds, which previously resulted in two or three labor-intensive searches through paper records each month. Since the new system has been in place, Carlson has not had to investigate a single complaint.

Staff has come to depend on Patient Flow and appreciate the way it helps coordinate care. RQHR is looking forward to expanding the solution to its transport processes in the near future. As usage expands, RQHR expects Patient Flow to continue to improve communication and build trust among departments.

To learn more about Patient Flow, you can watch a recent video featuring Allscripts solution director, Bob Oakley.

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