By Cheryl Dalton-Norman, MBA, RN, BSN
By Cheryl Dalton-Norman, MBA, RN, BSN
Every minute counts when it comes to patient transfers. A safe and seamless transfer depends on a timely and efficient process from the moment a transfer is initiated until a patient is located at the right place to get the right level of care. Effective communication is the foundation to a successful patient transfer, especially if a patient is being transferred between different hospitals or health systems. Unfortunately, communication breakdowns — especially between different hospitals or health systems — may result in laborious patient transfers that can jeopardize safety and quality.
Even without communications challenges, transfers are stressful enough, but hospitals and health systems can adopt strategies to better support safe, seamless transfers, and most importantly, to support improved patient outcomes.
Busy providers seek hospitals and hospital systems that will respond to transfer requests quickly. Hospitals must identify opportunities to expedite a physician’s acceptance of incoming patients through streamlined communication among physicians, clinicians, along with administrative and other clinical staff. To support streamlined processes and timely transfers, all team members involved in patient transfers should have easy access to the same, up-to-date patient information.
Patients requiring transfers often have complex issues and admission will depend on if a hospital can accommodate their unique needs. The problem that many hospitals face, however, is that they often lack critical information — or have inconsistent information — about a patient or what the patient requires. Whether it be during a shift change at the same hospital or a handoff from one hospital to another, team members must have access to the same patient information at their fingertips so they can coordinate the right care at the right time and in the right setting. Team members who are involved in patient transfers should be educated and trained on where to find the most up-to-date patient information, as well as what and when to update, and how to update information so that it’s readily available for all involved in the transfer process.
Even before COVID-19, staff shortages prevented health systems and hospitals from dedicating the appropriate staff to 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.
Although dedicating resources to the transfer process may require an initial investment, a centralized process will support expedited transfers and improved patient and provider satisfaction, all of which can save time, stress, and resources.
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 streamline communications, 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 direct patient admissions or transfers 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.
Cheryl Dalton-Norman, MBA, RN, BSN, is the president and founder of Conduit Health Partners, an outsource partner that offers customized health care solutions for health systems, health plans, employers and others to improve care and access for their patients and employees. Cheryl has held various nursing and leadership roles in her career and prior to founding Conduit in 2017, she served as System Vice President of Access for Mercy Health.
Listen to this recent Becker’s Healthcare podcast featuring Conduit’s President, Cheryl Dalton-Norman and Jeffrey DiLisi, MD, President and CEO of Roper St. Francis Healthcare, who discuss how Conduit’s unique service offerings will transform care at Roper St. Francis Healthcare.