What It Takes To Be a Successful Hospital Emergency Department

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Are you curious about what it takes to outperform your emergency department peers and sustain that level of performance year after year? One of the most common questions we get as we work with our Patient Insights customers is “what are your top performers doing to be so successful?” Each year, as we compile our national emergency department database we are struck by the consistency of the facilities that rank at the top.

We contacted the directors of some of the most successful emergency departments among our customer base to learn what they do differently and to see what they believe will be their biggest challenges in the months to come. This article looks at their feedback and attempts to unlock the secrets to their success.

Where Will Top ED Performers Focus Their Efforts in 2014?

Most of us are able to quickly list a number of challenges that occur on a daily basis in the emergency department. From volume and throughput issues to caring for the uninsured and staffing shortages, challenges are not in short supply. So, we asked our Top ED Performers to rank where they anticipate focusing their efforts over the next 12 months.

A Focus on Patient Experience and Patient Satisfaction

The vast majority said they anticipate placing the most attention on the patient experience and patient satisfaction. It comes as no surprise that those with the highest patient experience scores plan to continue their efforts. Sustaining high scores is a long-term endeavor that is never finished, and it is no accident that these facilities achieve the highest patient satisfaction scores. It is also right in line the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) plan to soon require that hospital emergency departments collect patient experience ratings through a new CAHPS survey.

The New ED-CAHPS Survey Ranks High

We anticipate that those currently performing at the top of our ED database will continue to be successful on the new ED-CAHPS survey. Following close behind patient satisfaction are patient safety and quality, strategic planning, and inter-departmental collaboration. Our findings are very similar to those reported in The Beryl Institute’s 2013 State of Patient Experience survey findings. In the Beryl study, respondents rated the top priorities as:

  • Patient Experience/Satisfaction (70%) 
  • Quality/Patient Safety (63%)

ED Patient Volumes Expected to Rise

Not ranked in the list, but mentioned as another challenge that our top performers expect to face in the coming months is an increase in patient volumes. An unexpected early consequence of the Affordable Care Act has been increased utilization of the emergency department among the newly insured. Industry experts and healthcare workers alike are predicting that the newly-insured will have trouble navigating the system and will increasingly turn to the emergency department for care instead. As a result of higher volumes, many expect challenges with patient throughput and maintaining shorter wait times.

This article also includes:

  • Collaboration and Accountability in the ED
  • Specific Examples of How Top Performers Improve the Patient Experience in Their Emergency Departments
  • Reviewing ED Patient Experience Results
  • Increased Transparency—A New CAHPS Survey for the Emergency Department
  • How Wait Times in the Emergency Department Affect PX Scores