No one can deny that the COVID-19 pandemic put unprecedented strain on the health care system. In its wake came the current “triple-demic” of COVID, flu and RSV, coupled with a severe nursing shortage. Added to these strains, hospitals face a decrease in licensed beds, shrinking margins and supply chain issues.
Meanwhile, patient transfer processes can disrupt your emergency department’s (ED) efficiency. Your ED doctors and nurses work tirelessly to help patients but are often distracted by managing transfers. A lack of available beds, delayed acceptance from neighboring facilities and limited transportation options often leave patients waiting hours for care.
Efficiency in patient transfer services is crucial
The patient transfer process is complex. Hospitals and health systems ideally have dedicated staff who know the transfer logistics as well as the capabilities of area facilities. They need to ask the right questions to determine the best care location and manage the transfer as quickly and safely as possible. Unfortunately, many entities don’t have that dedicated staff due to the current economic landscape’s impact on staffing resources.
Often, providers and nurses on duty in the emergency department need to facilitate transfer processes. This work takes them away from their patients to perform an often complex and time-consuming task. It is not uncommon for hospital staff to make more than ten phone calls and spend an average of 42 minutes transferring a patient from their facility. This is time that is often unaccounted for and may result in overtime expenses for your organization. In addition, this work often takes the caregiver away from patient care and may result in a delay of care for those awaiting transfer.
And the patient often pays the price.
Perils of traditional transfer center processes
You need to find appropriate care in the right place as quickly as possible to limit a patient’s time in the ED. An inefficient transfer process negatively impacts patient outcomes and satisfaction in a number of ways.
Outbound transfer delays increase mortality
Waiting in the ED for a transfer for six hours or longer negatively impacts outcomes and impacts patient survival. Specifically, delays in transport from the ED to an ICU can increase both length of stay and hospital mortality.1,2
An assessment of more than 50,000 patients treated in 120 ICUs showed a 35% higher mortality rate for patients boarded in the ED for more than six hours. Once they reached the ICU, their length of stay was one day longer, and ICU mortality was 27% higher, as well.3
Faster acceptance of inbound transfers decreases mortality
One large Southern health center found that after implementing an internal patient transfer hub, the improved communication and greater efficiency brought in transfer patients faster. In fact, they discovered a significant decrease in mortality rates for incoming patients whose transfers took less than six hours. The organization estimates that its faster transfer process saves approximately 56 lives annually.4
ED overcrowding impacts mortality
Emergency department overcrowding can also increase inpatient mortality rates and length of stay.5 In a study of more than 995,000 ED patients admitted to 187 hospitals, those admitted as inpatients from an overcrowded ED were 5% more likely to die.
Delays impact patient satisfaction
A hospital or health system can’t thrive without satisfied patients – and their loved ones. Waiting for transfers often leads to panic. People do their best to advocate for family members needing care. Some go so far as reaching out directly to other hospitals to try and speed up the process, but transfers must follow appropriate protocols. Patients and loved ones end up frustrated and can inadvertently delay progress by distracting ED staff from what they’re trying to accomplish.
Benefits of a centralized transfer center
Dedicated transfer center services can relieve the administrative burden on your ED staff and improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
The Conduit Patient Transfer Center uses established processes and valuable insights to identify the right placement for every patient. Conduit serves as the single access point to manage patient flow with a centralized transfer communications system. Our center is staffed 24/7 by registered nurses who will expertly manage your patient flow, direct admissions or consultations.
Reduce care delivery delays
At Conduit, we use data-driven strategies that help predict and manage patient volume, so you avoid care delivery delays. Our streamlined and standardized process supports better outcomes for your patients by accelerating both intra- and inter-system transfers.
We get to know your facilities, essential resources, service lines, accepting physicians, patient diagnosis, and the unit where the patient will be placed. Patients get timely access to the appropriate high-quality care and experience increased patient satisfaction.
We have a keen understanding of the operational and logistical needs of emergency and inpatient departments as well as outpatient facilities. Conduit helps reduce overcrowded departments and keeps transfer processes running smoothly and efficiently.
Monitor activity to enable process improvements
Our system records and compiles data related to every patient transfer. Its reports help you identify bottlenecks or areas needing improvement, such as a lag in response times from specific locations or personnel. That information may not be available without a centralized transfer center or data-driven system.
Partner with Conduit
Conduit can help you improve patient flow, increase patient safety, reduce staff load and improve patient health and satisfaction. Your providers and nurses can focus on patient care while the transfer center performs the legwork more efficiently and effectively using proven technology.
Conduit relies on dependable, data-supported strategies to reduce care delivery delays. We’ll partner with you to create an oversight council that promotes optimized processes, quality care and growth for your organization.
1 Adverse Events during Intrahospital Transfers: Focus on Patient Safety. https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/61135.
2 Chalfin DB et al. Impact of delayed transfer of critically ill patients from the emergency department to the intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine. 2007;35(6):1477-1483. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17440421/.
3 Bukata, W. Richard MD. Holding ICU Admits in the ED Increases Mortality 35%. Emergency Medicine News 30(3):p 9,13, March 2008. | DOI: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000313908.40373.fb. https://journals.lww.com/em-news/Fulltext/2008/03000/Holding_ICU_Admits_in_the_ED_Increases_Mortality.7.aspx
4 Saving Time, Saving Lives with a Centralized Patient Flow Center. https://www.epicshare.org/share-and-learn/ochsner-patient-flow-center.
5 Effect of Emergency Department Crowding on Outcomes of Admitted Patients. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 61(6), 605-611. https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(12)01699-X/fulltext.