Tech advances reduces wait times

In 2014 Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) partnered with Oculys Health Informatics to improve patient wait times in the Emergency Department (ED), using specialized informatics tools.

Three informatics tools were implemented that let patients know how long they would have to wait in the ED in real time, provide solutions in an accurate and accessible visual format, and address challenges of healthcare leaders, physicians, clinicians and patients.

PrEDict, a real-time, online broadcast of estimated patient wait-times to see a physician in the ED, went live at MSH in January 2015, and quickly became the hospital’s most visited web page. Over 90 per cent of patients see a physician within prEDict’s estimated time. This information and its accuracy reduces the frustration for patients, now that they know how long they will have to wait.

In addition, prEDict allows patients to make an informed choice about where they receive treatment, including the option to seek care for non-urgent medical issues at a doctor’s office or health clinic. Critically ill patients are not deterred by the wait-time, as they recognize the need for emergency care, but patients with less serious issues like coughs, colds, or minor injuries will find faster, alternative options outside the ED.

“One of our strategic objectives is to be a trusted provider of quality patient care and a leading hospital in outstanding patient experiences. We see the benefit in having up-to-date wait time information accessible to patients from home and in our waiting room. This supplements the one-on-one information provided by our dedicated staff and volunteers on what patients can expect.” Lynn Campkin, Director, Diagnostic, Laboratory and Emergency Services, Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Eight months following the launch of prEDict, MSH implemented Performance, the core of the Oculys solution suite, which offers real-time information to support decisions that enhance patient flow and reduce the time patients wait to be admitted to the hospital. The comprehensive visual display provides an accurate pulse check of all departments, and replaces the cumbersome paper and phone communications with ready to use data for faster decision making.

Elizabeth Price, manager of Access and Flow at MSH, says that previously MSH staff spent a lot of time making phone calls, searching for information in different systems, and frequently resetting priorities as new information became available. “With Performance, we have an accurate, real-time visual that we use to proactively support patient flow planning, and reduce departmental bottlenecks by taking advantage of efficiencies in other areas of the hospital. It has enabled and entrenched a proactive approach to patient planning at MSH,” said Price.

Building on the transparency of wait times, and patient flow benefits with the prEDict and Performance tools, MSH has been testing out and evaluating the merits of KeepNTouch, a real-time mobile tool that brings housekeeping into the fold of proactive patient flow planning.

KeepNTouch communicates patient room cleaning requirements, tracks cleaning status, prioritizes tasks, and provides room readiness notifications to the Performance tool. “We’ve made considerable progress in other areas, and are exploring tools like KeepNTouch to enhance efficiencies and transparency to housekeeping tasks, our goal is to reduce bed turnaround time,” says Clint Atendido, Senior Clinical Operations Director, Medicine, Surgical Programs and Emergency Department. MSH has been trialing this tool since July 2017.

“Hospital-wide transparency allows everything to flow more efficiently. As a proactive, incentive-driven hospital, we’re focused on providing exemplary patient care while achieving the performance targets that enhance our funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The organization-wide visibility of real time patient data provided by Oculys is helping us achieve these goals,” says Barbara Steed, Executive Vice President Patient Services and Chief Practice Officer.

By enabling a comprehensive view of total operations from any device at any time, Oculys provides the hospital’s management teams with game changing decision-support. In 2009, MSH joined the Ontario government’s Pay-for-Performance (P4R) incentives program. This program focuses on reducing the length of stay (LOS) for patients and improving patient satisfaction using measurement and funding allocations based on performance among the 73 participating hospitals.

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