Behavioral Health Collaboration Reduces Emergency Department Length of Stay by 64%

Focus on timely transfer for acute behavioral health patients improves patient safety and outcomes

A recent collaboration between Conduit Health Partners and Mercy Health — Springfield Regional Medical Center has significantly streamlined care transfers of behavioral health patients from the emergency department (ED) to appropriate care settings. Early data demonstrates strong efficacy of the collaboration, which resulted in a 64% reduction in ED length of stay, speeding time to treatment and improving overall staff and patient safety.

ED environments have experienced a high increase in patients presenting with behavioral health needs in recent years. This substantially increases health care costs and places a significant strain on EDs that are not staffed or resourced for the number of days of boarding that can be needed for acute behavioral health patients grappling with suicidal ideation.

Like many EDs across the country, we faced significant challenges getting behavioral health patients transferred to the right setting and level of care in a timely manner. This slowed down the care process for acute behavioral health patients in need of more appropriate therapeutic environments,” said Frank Farkash, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, with Bon Secours Mercy Health. “Using its nurse-first transfer services, the Conduit team helped us design workflows to improve and streamline the transfer process as well as empowered us with invaluable data-driven insights. Our team is very pleased with the expansion of the workflows to the other emergency departments in the market.”

Conduit’s nurse-driven model uses data to predict and manage patient volume to avoid delays in the delivery of care. This includes direct admissions, physician-to-physician consultations and emergency medical services (EMS) coordination.

The Conduit team worked collaboratively with Mercy Health — Springfield Regional Medical Center to revamp behavioral health patient transfer workflows from the ED. Starting with a bedside checklist, nurses are guided to generate an electronic bed request in EPIC that initiates Conduit’s involvement when needed. The new process also resulted in a 27% reduction in average phone calls from Conduit to the ED and a 50-second per-call reduction in talk time during the calls.

Based on the operational efficiencies and improvements in care, Bon Secours Mercy Health, the parent organization for Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center has expanded the workflow to Mercy Health – Dayton Springfield Emergency Department and Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital in 2024. 

The success of this initiative speaks for itself at a time when EDs are struggling to effectively manage growing numbers of behavioral health patients seeking services,” said Dominique Wells, COO, Conduit Health Partners. “Conduit’s partnership with Mercy Health — Springfield Regional Medical Center has delivered an improved care process that fosters communication and consistency through centralized information. Ultimately, this enhances overall ED safety and patient outcomes.”

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