Shorter ER boarding can boost hospital profits

Contrary to traditional thinking, slightly cutting back ER boarding time can improve a patient's health and a hospital's bottom line, concludes a study published online yesterday in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Even a one-hour reduction could add millions of dollars more a year in hospital revenue. 

"What we found is that it is possible for smart hospital managers to make more money and provide better ER service through less boarding if they are willing to cancel an occasional scheduled admission," lead study author Jesse M. Pines of George Washington University said in a statement.

In fact, when hospital occupancy reaches a certain point, reducing scheduled admissions by 5 percent--typically only a few patients--would increase profits by $7,418 per day, according to the study.  

In their effort to formulate an admissions policy for the ER during peak periods, the study's authors found that holding patients in the ER after admission for less time not only boosts profits, but also leads to better patient care and outcomes.

"From a medical standpoint, less boarding is better for patients," Pines said. "Patients who need treatment are seen faster and patients who have been admitted to the hospital get out of the hallway faster."

For more:
- read the Annals of Emergency Medicine press release