Corning, NY – The time patients wait in hospital Emergency Departments across the country is getting longer. According to a report issued by Press Ganey Associates, Inc., the health care industry's leading provider of quality improvement solutions, patients in U.S. hospitals are experiencing the longest wait times in Emergency Departments since reports were made available in 2002.
Corning Hospital's Emergency Department team has been hard at work to reverse that trend. The process has been very thorough, explains Mike Kerwan, RN, ED Director. "We used a comprehensive process redesign to objectively assess each step of the process used to manage patient flow and provide treatment. Our goal was to identify areas for improvement and barriers to change." The results of the analysis were used to develop a plan to improve the entire patient experience from the moment patients arrive until they are admitted or treated and released.
The hospital has designed a model for providing emergency care that more quickly identifies and treats patients who have minor emergencies, as opposed to those who will need multiple tests and possible admission. Charles Morrow, MD, ED Medical Director, adds, "One of the challenges we face at Corning Hospital is the high acuity of patients that seek care through the Emergency Department. Most community hospitals admit less than 15 percent of the patients who come to the ED. Because we see patients who are sicker than those who typically use community hospitals, we are admitting closer to 20 percent of patients, who typically require more time to assess and diagnose."
The Corning Hospital Emergency Department team is using several measures to monitor their performance, such as the rate at which patients leave without being seen, wait time to see a physician, and total wait time in the ED.
Improvement is evident on all fronts. The rate at which patients leave without being seen has dropped from 4.1 percent to under 2 percent. The wait time to see a provider has dropped from an average of 55 minutes to an average of 29 minutes. And, the total time spent in the ED, from registration to discharge, has dropped from an average of 183 minutes to an average of 137 minutes. All of these improvements have been made while at the same time the numbers of patients using the ED have gone up, as has patient satisfaction.