Data analytics can help rural emergency departments better use their personnel, leading to higher satisfaction and retention.

Here are three strategies health care organizations can use to retain their valuable human assets.

Access to care in rural America is already more difficult than in the rest of the country, and one particular problem is the troubling trend of fewer available emergency physicians. More doctors than ever are graduating from America’s medical schools, but the overwhelming majority are heading for urban areas. With one in five Americans living in rural areas, this presents dire health consequences.

According to a 2020 study by The American College of Emergency Physicians, only 8% of the nation’s emergency physicians are choosing to practice in rural areas. Another alarming statistic is that the average age of these rural ED physicians is higher than their urban counterparts, meaning many of them are nearing retirement.

The problem has many facets, and there are several ways to address this complex problem. Fortunately, the right performance analytics application can help rural hospitals approach each of these strategies with all the necessary data and insight required.

Enhancing Involvement of Mid-Level Practitioners

Mid-level practice in an emergency department does not always look the same because states vary widely in the amount of autonomy granted to mid-level practitioners.

Regardless, there are some important strategies for maximizing the usage of mid-levels for the most impact. Smart triaging practices using available data allow MDs to work at the top of their skill level, with primarily ESI Level 1 and 2 patients. Simultaneously, mid-levels can tackle less acute ESI 3-5 triaged patients. Intelligent daily staffing models based on historical ED census data can also make sure that the optimum mix of skill levels is available at the right times.

Increasing Efficiency via Telemedicine

Using innovative telemedicine solutions in the ED just makes sense. Tele-ER solutions can be used to supplement triage and allocate resources in the most effective way. For example, one West Coast HCO recently launched an option that uses trained staff to answer video and phone calls to the telehealth number, gather information to register and triage the patient, and then transfer to a virtual visit with an ED provider.

If the patient needs in-person care, labs, or diagnostics, then they are advised to come to the ED in person. This solution serves as a way of addressing COVID-19 concerns, but also helps preserve resources by helping patients when they’re uncertain if they need the ED or not.

Reducing Documentation Burden

Physician documentation requirements are ever-increasing and take up a significant portion of work time. A full review of documentation workflows and assessing EHR capabilities can reveal ways to automate duplicative tasks. Building templates, care bundles, order sets, and creating flows can save significant time and reduce errors.

Taking a deep dive into the data around how physician time is spent can be very eye-opening. Another solution that rural hospitals can implement to reduce physician documentation burden is the use of scribes. Medical scribes work closely with physicians to perform documentation and maximize the doctor’s available time at the bedside. A close look at tasks, staffing, and patient census fluctuations can reveal potential benefits of using scribes.

Limited resources lead to innovation. These three strategies, as well as administrative engagement and physician retention efforts, can help rural hospitals meet the challenge. Relevant data analytics can guide decision-making and track results for maximum impact in rural emergency departments.

Contact d2i to learn how we can help you obtain better, more actionable data, or request a demo to learn how we can help your organization maximize its resources, keep costs down, and improve quality of care.