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Improving patient care and satisfaction with Allscripts Patient Flow™ for better bed management

Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) employs Allscripts Patient Flow™ to automate the process of turning over and assigning beds for better occupancy management and higher staff productivity. More efficient and accurate bed assignments helps reduce length of stay by an estimated 42%, saving the organization $400,000 annually.

RQHR offers a full range of hospital, rehabilitation, community, public health, long-term and home care services to the more than 260,000 residents of southern Saskatchewan, Canada. It faces the same occupancy management challenge as many other healthcare organizations.

Better processes with automation

In October 2013, RQHR went live with Patient Flow’s bed management component for inpatient services. With processes in place, the organization uses Patient Flow to manage the work flow of bed turnover and match patient needs to available capacity.

“Discharge triggers the dirty bed notice right away, that’s huge,” said Wendy McCrystal, senior business analyst from RQHR. Visibility eliminates the need for multiple 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.

RQHR also uses Allscripts Sunrise™ Acute Care to manage and forecast patient discharge dates to calculate bed availability. Sunrise helps RQHR track estimated discharge dates and highlight them on unit display boards. Built-in flags indicate when a patient is three days or less away from discharge.

“We’re able to get a better picture on every unit when patients are scheduled to leave, which helps us with discharge planning,” said John Ash, acting executive director of patient flow, pharmacy and respiratory services for RQHR. The housekeeping team also uses the data to adjust work schedules or adjust rotations to increase staffing for late afternoons or evenings.

Reducing surgery wait times with more efficient bed management

When RQHR relied on a paper process to manage bed turnover, caregivers occasionally had to cancel surgeries, place patients in hallways or inpatient units, and use overflow space to hold patients until beds were available. The emergency room (ER) sometimes had 15 or more admitted patients waiting for a new patient bed, which negatively impacted the flow of the ER. Occupancy of core beds approached 120%.

By automating bed management with Patient Flow, RQHR is now able to assign new patients to beds within 15 to 20 minutes, which is in the 90th percentile for similarly sized hospitals.

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.

Real-time data about bed availability also means patients are placed on appropriate floors for their care needs. According to Ash, “Previously, we sometimes had to put medical patients on surgical floors while we tracked down bed availability in the right area.”

Financial and operational benefits

In addition to the estimated $400,000 in savings, a base-line analysis of phone volume in the organization shows a 50% drop in calls after Patient Flow went live. Staff is more productive because they no longer spend time tracking down open beds. Data entry requirements are minimized because Patient Flow shares data with Sunrise.

RQHR continues to monitor and evaluate ways to improve bed management with Patient Flow. The organization is also in the early stages of implementing other modules in Patient Flow and Sunrise which will enhance work flows, including patient transport, patient registration and physician order entry.

According to Ash, one thing is certain,“Patient Flow is intuitive and very easy to use. Our staff would never let us take it away now that they see what Patient Flow can do.”

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