How Enterprise Imaging Can Support Patient Throughput Goals


Emergency MedicineSoon, healthcare organizations in the U.S. will be reimbursed on pay-for-performance model based on 17 core measures as well as consumer survey reports. While reimbursements only measure scores from inpatients, emergency department (ED) operations will have a huge impact.

As the “front door” of most facilities, the ED has a tremendous opportunity to influence both a patient’s perception of care and clinical quality.

Creating a “Patient Flow Standard”

The Joint Commission (TJC) established the “patient flow standard” which addresses how leadership uses data and measurements to identify, mitigate and manage issues affecting patient flow through the hospital. (Source: The National Law Review)

Despite recent efforts to improve efficiencies, TJC noted that problems with ED patient flow “pose a persistent systemic risk to the safety and quality of patient care.” The revised standard requires hospitals to measure, set and review results, and take corrective action for goals regarding safety, efficiency, bed supply and access to support services.

More specifically, they set goals for throughput in areas where patients receive care, such as inpatient units, laboratory, operating rooms, telemetry, radiology and the post-anesthesia care unit.

Enterprise imaging, with its ability to integrate all of the above, provides a clear pathway to improve patient flow management.

What Patient Throughput Could Mean for Emergency Departments

While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursements don’t include the ED currently, according to the Studer Group®, who works with hundreds of healthcare organizations across the country, “what leaders may not be aware of is that there is a very strong correlation between ED performance and overall hospital performance.”

For the past year (2012), CMS has been gathering metrics on median time from when a person enters the emergency room, to being admitted, to actually securing a bed. The data analytics available through an enterprise imaging solution could provide valuable statistics to satisfy any future requirement.

Access to imaging files also offers time savings, when clinical communications are critical in the moment.

These metrics may become a factor in reimbursement down the road. Because, if there’s one thing we’ve seen in healthcare, the only constant is change!

What has your organization found to be best for supporting patient throughput goals?  I encourage you to share your feedback, via a comment below.

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