COVID-19 has exacerbated already strained processes for transferring patients in and out of hospitals. Given a higher volume of patients needing specialized care coupled with ongoing staffing issues plaguing health systems nationwide, the lack of standardization for transferring patients has serious consequences.
Transfers are initiated when a hospital does not have the capacity or capability to treat a patient. However, without a standardized transfer process within and outside health systems and hospitals, the risk of moving a patient may outweigh the risk of caring for them at the originating hospital, even in a setting that lacks the ideal space, equipment or personnel.
Patient transfer troubles are not new, yet the pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals like never before. Patient volume poses increasingly significant transfer challenges and hospitals and health systems should prioritize standardization now before the next crisis hits.
As soon as a hospital determines a patient transfer is necessary, the intake process becomes critical in ensuring a smooth transfer process. All too often, however, missing or inaccurate information disrupts the intake process. The intake process is the foundation for a patient transfer, but inconsistencies and gaps in the information collected can waste time, but more importantly, can negatively impact patient care.
Organizations should do a thorough evaluation of their intake process and identify areas where it can be streamlined and improved. Not only can this save precious time and resources, but it can vastly improve patient care, and provider satisfaction.
Understandably, hospitals will attempt to transfer patients within their own health systems, however that’s not always possible. In those instances where a hospital is admitting or transferring a patient from or to a hospital outside its health system, standardization is even more crucial. Given how overburdened and strained today’s hospitals are, there must be more coordination and collaboration among providers of different health systems to increase overall capacity to better serve patients and communities.
Even before COVID-19, staff shortages prevented health systems and hospitals from dedicating the appropriate staff to the care for patients in addition to managing the patient transfer process. COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem, resulting in multiple staff members spending precious time making dozens of calls within and outside of their hospitals and health systems to find the right placement for a patient needing to be transferred.
Hospitals and health systems need dedicated staff who understand the complexities of the patient transfer process, who know the right questions to ask, and who can alleviate administrative burdens from those staff members who should be spending their time on direct patient care.
Closely examining the transfer process from start to finish will help hospitals and health systems streamline and standardize operations. For example, identifying the time it takes from intake to physician acceptance, and then from physician acceptance to bed placement, are critical data points necessary to support an organization’s goal to improve patient outcomes. Then, a continuous evaluation of metrics can help organizations realize ongoing results, which can include financial savings, but more importantly, better patient access and care.
Most organizations don’t have the in-house resources, operational capacity, or expertise to implement improved transfer processes. Partnering with an organization like Conduit Health Partners, which was designed by health care operators for health care operators, can help organizations achieve optimal, patient-centered care through our customized patient transfer center model.
Conduit will work with your hospital or health system to standardize and expedite patient transfers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our experienced health care professionals will serve as an extension of your team and as a single access point for managing patient transfers across networks of care, offering the resources and expertise needed for timesaving patient admissions and improved patient outcomes.
As health care leaders, we understand the ever-changing health care landscape and offer customized, cost-effective, and time-saving solutions to help your organization improve care for patients.