Monday, July 10, 2006

An ER Run Properly?

Friend and former colleague Jeff Ackerman is CEO at the San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown, Texas. He has this to say on the subject of running ER’s properly:

First, my experience is that most of our patients think we are doing well.

Second, we revised our process and no longer put every patient in a bed. Instead, a physician sees every patient in a triage room within 20 minutes of arrival. Some patients are treated immediately and sent home. Those patients who are not acute but need lab work or x-rays are sent to a waiting room where they are picked up for their procedure and returned after. They are then seen by the physician in the triage area and treated and discharged.

The result is a decrease of throughput time by 1 hour (3.5 hours to 2.5 hours) and a reduction of patients leaving without being examined from 3% to .5% - 1.0%.

However, offsetting these improvements is a growth in our ER volume year over year of 9%, which follows a 10% growth 2005 over 2004.

I don’t think the problem is how we run our ERs but rather how we manage healthcare.

P.S. Our ER volume this year is projected at 62,000 visits with 30% uninsured.

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