Remote triaging can optimize patient throughput in emergency departments.

Remote resources and data analysis can optimize staffing and speed up patient throughput.

A new poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and Morning Consult, a business intelligence firm, shows an overwhelming majority of patients prefer physicians over other clinicians when it comes to leading their care in the emergency department (ED).

At the same time, the country is experiencing a severe shortage of emergency medicine physicians, even causing some EDs to close. This trend is most prevalent in rural areas, further reducing vulnerable populations’ access to health care.

With the current emergency physician shortage, how can organizations keep patients confident about their quality of care? The answer lies in the smart use of technology to speed patient throughput and inject efficiencies into the traditional ED workflow.

Staffing Capacity

The challenge that EDs face every day is staffing appropriately for an unknown patient flow. On any given day, the workflow may not match available staff, which can result in costly overstaffing or stressful understaffing.

Optimal staffing for both high- and low-volume days can be achieved by combining on-site and remote resources digitally, for example, using software from EmOpti. By making appropriate use of remote physician resources, the software gives patients the physician experience they expect, regardless of internal staffing situations.

A 2018 quality study quantified what ED departments already suspected, that prolonged wait times are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as decreased patient satisfaction. This study noted that one intervention, in particular, drove down wait times: speeding up the flow of patients through the consultation stage of the ED visit.

Remote Triage Consults

Multiple physicians at multiple teletriage sites can support ED clinicians as needed by quickly gathering information, assessing the patient via a video screen, and implementing next steps in the care process. This important step facilitates testing, additional consults, admission, or rapid discharge if appropriate.

Leveraging technology and Emergency Medicine Performance Analytics can allow hospitals to see measurable results. The rate of patients seen per hour, per clinician can be almost three times that of in-person consultations alone. Door-to-doctor wait times are reduced to about 10 minutes. Moving patients through the system more efficiently saves precious ED beds for more critical patients, not ones who are simply waiting to be seen.

Health Care Utilization Trends

In the United States — and around the world — the general population is changing to include a larger proportion of older adults, which gradually is putting more and more pressure on the overtaxed health care system.

At the same time, a primary focus remains on reducing health care disparities and increasing access to care, particularly in rural communities and among minority populations and people without health insurance. As those barriers are lowered, health care organizations can expect to see the system taking on even more patients, ones who previously didn’t utilize resources. This can lead to increased patient volume. The AAMC predicts that in the next few years, the U.S. could need as many as 180,400 more physicians than previously estimated.

Managing this intersection of physician shortage and increased patient flow requires innovative workflow solutions, like incorporating smart software with powerful data analytics, which can eliminate information silos and communication breakdowns.

Valuable resources can be deployed in a meaningful way that keeps patients satisfied with care, and ED clinicians supported and engaged where they’re needed the most. Contact d2i to learn more about our suite of analytics solutions that are helping EDs and software companies like EmOpti reach new levels of productivity and patient satisfaction.