Case study: KY hospital ED cuts patient wait times in half

King's Daughters Medical Center, a 385-bed regional hospital in Ashland, KY, has pulled off a trick many of its peers would envy. The not-for-profit cut its emergency department's length of stay from 220 minutes to 118 minutes, beating its own internal goal of 120 minutes. The department managed this turnaround as part of an ED-wide performance improvement project undertaken in April, when it moved out of its old space into temporary quarters. 

Central to the turnaround was the implementation of an electronic medical record system, which helped ED personnel cut the time they spent with charts and increase the time they spent with patients. The hospital has also streamlined its ED by adding new staffers whose job it is to improve patient flow throughout the ED during peak hours.

To improve ED patient flow, KDMC has hired a "flow coordinator" who manages traffic in and out of the ED during peak hours, as well as helping doctors, nurses and techs communicate. In addition, the hospital has shifted some nurse practitioners and technicians from a 12-hour slot beginning at 9 a.m. to a similar slot beginning at 11 a.m. to fit peak times. The hospital has also instituted a $200 deposit or up-front co-pay for patients with non-emergency conditions.

The KDMC emergency department has also implemented an EMR system produced by T-System Inc. of Texas. The T-System gear includes laptop computers on rolling stations that allow medical data to recorded from anywhere in the ED. It also includes small tablet computers with touch screens, resembling large PDAs, that can transmit information wirelessly. Using T-System, the hospital has been phasing out whiteboards, clipboards and physician-written records and instructions. The T-System data is integrated with the hospital's core Meditech system, and information entered at any point in the network is available throughout.

To learn more about KDMC's ED changes:
- read this piece from The Daily Leader

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