When everything is running as it’s supposed to, a hospital is like a well-oiled machine. Each department plays a role in keeping the hospital working. But when one of the links in the chain isn’t at its best, it can negatively impact the entire organization. The emergency department is critical to the overall flow and financial health of the hospital. And now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more critical that a hospital’s emergency department is running at peak efficiency. This helps both hospital finances by getting patients in the door and patient care, as patients don’t have to wait for long periods of time and can quickly and safely get to where they need to be without the potential for exposure. However, the emergency department faces unique challenges. As Nora Lissy, RN, BSN, MBA, Dimensional Insight’s Director of Healthcare Implementations, says, “A poorly run emergency department can result in poor customer service, low employee morale, and the increased potential for poor clinical outcomes.”

Emergency department challenges

What are some of these challenges faced by emergency departments? And how can analytics help address them? Let’s examine the biggest issues EDs face:

Capacity: According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), emergency departments in the U.S. serve about 76 million patients a year. If there are more patients in the ED than can be treated, everyone suffers. Patients aren’t getting the care they need, and the department can’t reach its maximum potential.

Throughput: The ACEP also estimates that about 70% of patients admitted to a hospital enter through the ED. Moving these patients requires communication both in the department among admitting staff and physicians, as well as communication between the department and the hospital at large. Bottlenecks can have a rippling effect throughout the system, leading to substandard care, unhappy patients, and higher costs.

Finances: When operations are running smoothly, an emergency department should serve as a positive financial resource for a hospital. However, when it’s poorly run, the ED can find itself losing money. The complexities include lost revenue if a patient ends up leaving the hospital before being seen due to a long wait time.

Staffing: Like any business, hospitals can only succeed when they are putting staff members in the best position to treat patients. This includes making sure employees are not overworked, and that shifts are balanced in a way that keeps the emergency department from being over- or under-staffed at different times during the day.

Ancillary services: Ancillary services in the emergency department include everything from lab services to radiology services to diagnostic studies. When turnaround times for these services are delayed, that can affect everything from throughput to the ED census.

While these challenges are certainly daunting, they can be addressed through the improved insight that comes from deploying an analytics solution. Analytics helps hospitals and health systems to get a pulse on the health of their emergency departments and take swift action to make improvements. As Nora Lissy says, “Analytics provides the data to streamline processes, improve patient outcomes, and identify areas of transformation in the emergency department.”

Gaining insight into the health of the ED with Dimensional Insight

At Dimensional Insight, we have developed our Emergency Department Advisor application with the needs of ED users in mind. Our healthcare industry expertise combined with our customer-focused, outcomes-driven methodology has led us to create an application that, quite simply, gets the results you need. Emergency Department Advisor helps hospitals by:

  • Identifying potential bottlenecks and uncovering opportunities for improved ED throughput.
  • Flagging patients who return to the ED and supplying detailed information from all ED visits. This allows for analysis of frequent flyers, gaps in care, and better care management.
  • Providing a comprehensive compilation of ED metrics around efficiency, throughput, effectiveness, and outcomes, all in one single application.

The metrics used for Emergency Department Advisor, while ED-specific, can also be shared across Dimensional Insight’s suite of applications throughout the hospital. This is the benefit of deploying applications from Dimensional Insight’s enterprise analytics platform. While departmental applications from other vendors require you to start from scratch with each new project deployment, with Dimensional Insight, the logic and metrics are available for shared use as all applications are part of a single “family” of products. This results in data integrity, ultimately leading to trust in data across the system, as well as far less time to results and fewer dollars spent in the process. Learn more about Emergency Department Advisor and what makes Dimensional Insight unique in our approach to analytics.

Kathy Sucich
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