Thursday, January 26, 2012
Contact: Roxiann Ramsey
Time seems to move slowest perhaps when sitting in the chair of a hospital emergency room. But at Citizens Baptist Medical Center, changes have made access to emergency care faster, more accessible and more convenient for residents of Talladega and the surrounding area.
And the latest patient satisfaction scores for the hospital's emergency department (ED) show the difference these changes are making. "Our latest scores were very positive," said Meg Gray, ED nurse manager, describing scores that ranked the emergency department at 91%.
Finding ways to improve
The ED staff and an interdisciplinary team at Citizens undertook an effort to shorten patient visits and speed the process of admitting patients who require hospitalization. "As a result, we made changes that helped us become more productive and efficient," said Gray.
"These changes mean patients are seen more quickly," added Dr. Jason Begue, medical director of the Citizens emergency department. "The faster we see patients, the quicker we can assess them and begin treatment. No one gets better while waiting."
The Citizens ED has approximately 19,000 visits annually with roughly 11 percent of the visits requiring admission to the hospital. The team set a goal of one hour or less for admitting --- the time it takes to get a patient through the emergency department and into a hospital bed. Previously, this process routinely took two-plus hours for more than 30 percent of the admitted ED patients.
But through better organization and improved communication between the staff in the emergency department and the admitting floor, the team decreased to less than five percent the number of patients requiring two hours for admission and achieved its one hour goal for admission with more than 70 percent of admissions.
Teamwork pays off
This time-efficiency effort also helped improve the time non-admitted patients spend in the emergency room, which is an overall patient satisfier.
One of the most important improvements made was implementing bedside triage. Now, on average, ED patients at Citizens are triaged within five minutes of their arrival and seen by a physician within 15 minutes. Plus, the hospital's average length of stay in the ED for non-admitted patients is right at two hours - half the national average of about four hours.
"Our physicians are critical to our success," said Gray. "They provide appropriate, quality care, yet not in a rushed or hurried manner."
"Patients receive the same high level of care, but it's no longer performed in a series of steps," Dr. Begue said. "We get the patient to a bed where triage, registration, treatment and other care can begin - not in a series, but what I describe as in parallel. And, the changes we made have greatly enhanced our ability to see patients more quickly."
We're here for you, even when you go home
Another change the emergency department implemented is next-day follow-up calls to patients at home. "We check to make sure the patient had their medications filled, and just to remind them that 'we're still here for you' even if you're back home," said Gray.
The entire Citizens Baptist staff is supportive of the hospital's ongoing improvement process. "It's part of our Mission values - to be resourceful in providing excellence to our patients," said Gray. "And as employees, it has allowed us to become more aware of the impact one person's role can have on someone else. We've always done a good job, but our new process encourages teamwork and makes us a more cohesive team."
"Being able to squeeze the inefficiencies from the processes in place reduces time away from patients and speeds up patient care without diminishing quality," Dr. Begue said. "It puts the focus is on the patient, and that's the way it should be."
To help BHS hospitals continue to find ways to improve patient care, consider a gift to the Baptist Health Foundation. Call 877-474-4243 or visit us online at BaptistHealthFoundation.com.