As the healthcare industry evolves, leaders continue to search for new and more effective ways to meet the growing demands and expectations of patients, payors, and regulators. In no place is this more true than in a hospital’s emergency department (ED) where leaders face mounting pressure to improve metrics and achieve better outcomes in a fast-paced, hectic environment, often with fewer resources.
7 Principles to Improve Patient Outcomes in the ED
While there is no simple answer or one-size-fits-all solution for improving ED operations and flow, here are some proven principles to consider to enhance efficiency and reduce overall turnaround times:
ED flow can become complicated, especially in large, busy, and urban departments. In many cases, bigger, more complex departments will require a deeper look into the operation and multiple factors affecting performance. Many hospitals have embraced Lean or Six Sigma methodologies as an option and have found success with such strategies for reducing overall turnaround times.
To Succeed, You Must Execute, Measure, and Communicate the Plan
A critical component of any successful change process includes a detailed and clearly written action plan. Leaders are much more likely to achieve their goals if their action steps are written. Leaders and team members can use the written plan as their roadmap and as one of the tools for tracking their success. Build into the plan specific elements that can be used as success measures to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the plan.
Another important aspect of having a written plan is ensuring that the components of the plan are communicated widely, using several methods of communication. Some studies have suggested that it takes individuals up to seven times to see or hear something before they change behavior. Mentioning something just once at a staff meeting or in an email is not enough. Create a comprehensive communication plan in which a new change or idea is shared in many venues such as during huddles, in an email, in a newsletter, during rounding, etc.
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