NJ hospitals' efficiency changes reduce wait times, stays

Fourteen New Jersey hospitals expect to accomodate more patients, decrease emergency room wait times and reduce length of hospital stays thanks to workflow reforms in collaboration with the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Optimization, the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) reports.

The 15-month project, part of the NJHA's Partnership for Patients contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a "hospital engagement network" funded through the Affordable Care Act, will result in reduced costs and increased revenues for hospitals. 

Hospitals anticipate:

  • 11,800 to 17,300 additional patients who could be treated without adding inpatient beds or operating rooms            
  • Roughly 20,000 additional patients who could be accommodated in hospital emergency departments
  • 21 percent to 85 percent decrease in wait times for emergency department patients to be admitted to a hospital bed
  • Reductions in the length of hospital stays ranging from 3 percent to 47 percent for certain groups of patients.

"The results are consistent with the goals of the Affordable Care Act--to reduce healthcare costs through improved efficiency," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan in the announcement. "But each of those efficiency standards also yield important results in improved quality and safety for patients."

Eugene Litvak, Ph.D., IHO's president, CEO, who led the project, helped identify the healthcare bottlenecks at the hospitals, designing solutions to streamline the process and providing procedures to reduce long waits for patients, cut costs from staff overtimes and spot missed opportunities for added revenues, according to the NJHA statement.

The work was broken down into three specific areas, with each hospital choosing one as a focus:

  • reengineering the operating room
  • redesigning surgical inpatient flow
  • right-sizing medical inpatient units

Hospitals analyzed the inefficiencies in their operations, which included uneven usage of operating rooms, while others identified bottlenecks in admitting patients to inpatient beds.

Solutions included reallocating operating room space and staffing, creating designated blocks for emergency and urgent surgeries, and developing new standardized discharge processes to increase bed availability.

While the groundwork for the initiative was laid in 2012 and the first half of 2013, the project officially launched in July and many of the hospitals have seen significant improvements in just three months, NJSpotlight reported.

Based on current data, individual hospitals adopting these strategies project impressive long-term results:

  • One hospital expects to schedule 1,000 additional surgical cases, resulting in a potential $1.27 million to $5 million increase in annual revenue.
  • Another projects annual cost savings of $1.7 million for redesigning its OR scheduling and operations.
  • One hospital expects to reduce its wait time for emergency surgery to just 18 minutes, based on its OR redesign.
  • Another reported an increase in patient satisfaction scores from 56 percent to 73 percent.

Litvak said the success of the New Jersey hospitals in reengineering processes and producing measurable results can provide a model for hospitals across the country in improving healthcare delivery systems. 

For more:
- here's the NJHA announcement   
- check out NJSpotlight's coverage